Dunmorean of the Month: Jeannie Kreis McDonald

By Steve Svetovich

Jeannie Kreis McDonald is a lifelong Dunmorean who enjoys giving back to the community.

Married for 16 years to Kevin McDonald, the former director of building and grounds for Dunmore School District, both she and her husband are community activists.

Her husband, now retired, continues with his volunteer work for “Citizens Regarding the Environment.”

Daughter of the late Robert and Marie Kreis, Jeannie has been employed at Lockheed Martin, Archbald, for the past 35 years. She is a senior program planner and hopes to retire August 1.

She is a 1978 Dunmore High School graduate and went on to receive a bachelor of science degree in public relations with a minor in business from Mansfield University in 1982. 

Her husband, a 1968 Dunmore graduate, received his bachelor of science degree 10 years after Jeannie did.

“Same schools, but 10 years apart,” she said. “I had a crush on him, so I hired him as a handyman. It worked. We have been in love ever since. We dated for 12 years and now have been married 16 years. So it’s a success story.”

Jeannie has been a volunteer for over two decades at Saint Joseph’s Center, where she has been a member of Saint Joseph’s Auxiliary for over 20 years.

“Right now I am organizing the massive sidewalk sale to be held at the DeNaples Center Saturday, May 20, from 9 a.m. to noon,” she said.

The DeNaples Center, 320 South Blakely St., Dunmore, is located at the spot of the former Riccardo’s Market.

“We raise over $10,000 every year from this event for programs at Saint Joseph’s Center. We collect merchandise at the DeNaples Center all year for this fund-raising event. We have a whole team of volunteers who collect books, household items, small pieces of furniture, jewelry, tools, and sporting goods, among other items.”

Jeannie and her group of volunteers are accepting donations at the DeNaples Center every Saturday from April 1 to May 6, from 9 a.m. to noon, and every Wednesday, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Jeannie, who has a bubbly and positive demeanor, is also heavily involved in Saint Joseph’s biggest fund-raiser, the annual picnic held the final weekend of July at Marywood University.

“We have a team of volunteers for that event too,” she said.

The lifelong Dunmorean said she hopes to do more volunteer work after she retires late this summer.

She is also involved with the annual “Giving Tree” held during the Christmas season at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Dunmore.

“We do a ‘Giving Tree’ in which our church members donate gifts for parishioners who are homebound or in nursing homes. The church members wrap the gifts and transport them while also visiting with the homebound and nursing home parishioners. It’s really nice.”

Jeannie and her husband have no children, but are immensely proud of and devoted to their 40 nieces and nephews. “We are very proud of all of their many accomplishments,” she said.

Jeannie also ran her first half marathon at 53 and is currently training for her 16th half marathon to be held in Scranton.

Besides the running and volunteer work, Jeannie, humble in nature, comes from a family of educators.

Her late grandparents, Albert and Helen Kreis, owned Kreis Jewelry and Appliances, Dunmore, for over 75 years. The couple lived into their mid to late 90’s and were married close to 75 years. Jeannie’s late dad worked in the family business.

Her grandmother was a school teacher at Dunmore and a graduate of West Chester Teacher’s College, a rare feat for a woman a century ago.

Jeannie was raised with three brothers, Tim, Joe and Mike, and a sister Kathy. Mike died at age 31 due to juvenile diabetes in 1999. Her sister Kathy is a retired special education teacher.

Her brother-in-law, Joe McDonald, is former principal at Dunmore High School.

Jeannie’s late maternal grandmother was Catherine Egan Buckley, Dunmore. Her grandmother’s brother and sister were both teachers at Dunmore.

“My main focus right now is on the upcoming sidewalk sale at the DeNaples Center,” she said. “Our team of Saint Joseph’s Center volunteers are working hard to make it a big success. After I retire, I am looking forward to putting even more time into these efforts.

“It is very gratifying to help give back to the community. I have been very fortunate in my life.”

Dunmorean of the Month: Dave Hawk

David Hawk with his wife Ann

By Steve Svetovich

Tis’ the season to buy chocolates, and this has been a way of life for Dunmore’s Dave Hawk and his family for many decades.

That is making and selling those chocolates.

Dave Hawk’s grandmother started the Gertrude Hawk business as a paid hobby in 1936.

“It all started in my grandmother’s home at her dining room table,” said Dave Hawk, 71.

“She made the candy and chocolates and molasses coconut–a big item in those days–at her dining room table. Her house was open for business during holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

“Gertrude Hawk became a full-fledged business in 1946 after my dad, Elmer Hawk, returned home to Dunmore from World War II where he was a POW for 17 months in Austria. He was owed half of his back pay from those 17 months and he put it into the business.”

Hawk, the third of a fourth generation owner and operator of the business, is now semi-retired.

“My dad asked me to become his partner in 1971,” said Hawk, a polite, soft-spoken gentleman. “It was a terrific partnership that lasted for 21 years until he sold me the business in 1992. My dad died in 2013. Now I have my four children run the business.” His children took over the business a year ago, he says.

Members of the Hawk family are shown, from left: Patrick Hawk, Paul Hawk, Ann Hawk, David, Carolyn Hawk Horter, and Jennifer Hawk.

His son Paul Hawk is current owner. Daughter Jennifer Hawk is vice president of IT and purchasing. Son Patrick Hawk is vice president of special business. Daughter Carolyn Harter is chairman of the board.

Hawk remains very active as chairman of the board for the Hawk Family Foundation. He is also founder and chairman of the board for the Nativity Miguel School at Marywood University. “The school is based on the Nativity model of education,” said Hawk. “There are about 63 students enrolled from fifth to eighth grade. It is tuition-free, but you have to get accepted. Many of the students go on to receive scholarships from Holy Cross or Scranton Prep High Schools.”

Hawk is married to the former Ann Walsh. The couple met at the local Penn State campus where Dave was studying for an associate’s degree in business. “It was love at first sight.”

The couple has 12 grandchildren. Each of the Hawk couple’s children have three kids.

Hawk is a North Pocono graduate, but has lived in Dunmore with his wife for the past 50 years.

The original Gertrude Hawk business location was at 1325 Drinker St., Dunmore.

Hawk said his family runs 45 Gertrude Hawk stores at present. There are 14 located in Northeast PA, including the one at Keystone Industrial Park.  All of the stores are located within a 156 mile radius from Dunmore. Some of the stores are in New Jersey and parts of New York State such as Binghamton and Syracuse.

“We’ve had a dynamic year with the business,” said Hawk. “Business is growing like crazy. We never knew it would be like this. We developed a unique product.

“However, the most important thing is not about the money exchanged. It’s about how you treat people. It’s about treating people well. It’s about treating the customers and also the people who work for you well. You need to instill a feeling of trust, especially in this community.”

Hawk said fund-raising has become a huge part of the business. He said a piece of the Gertrude Hawk business was sold five years ago.

“We try to come up with the right blend of cocoa for our chocolates,” said Hawk. “We work hard at it. Molasses coconut was big in my grandmother’s day. Times change and people’s tastes change. You have to be able to adjust to those changes. Cocoa over the years changes, so we have to search for places for that flavor.

“We are always trying to keep up with food trends and what people like. Chocolate products have to be responsive to changes in taste. Coconut was the number one seller during my grandmother’s time.”

Dunmorean of the Month: Jim Barrett

By Steve Svetovich

Jim Barrett, 71, has been involved in the trucking business as long as he can remember.

The Dunmore native graduated from Scranton Prep in 1969 and the University of Scranton in 1973.

A couple years later he began working for Fowler and Williams, Scranton, before deciding to venture into his own business.

He and his wife, the former Debra Fowler, formed Road Scholar Transport in 1988. The business is located at 130 Monahan Ave., Dunmore.

Road Scholar Transport has grown into a large asset based carrier serving the Truckload LTL and specialty service needs of businesses in the northeast and mid Atlantic United States.

Over the past 34 years, the business has grown from one owner operator to a fleet of over 105 tractors, 300 trailers and 65 refrigerated units. The technology and methods evolved over the years, but the mission is the same.

“We approach every customer and every customer’s customer with the same dignity, respect and professionalism we would afford our own family. We employ only experienced drivers who are always uniformed, clean-cut and courteous.”

Road Scholar Transport combines its experience and culture with its Northeast and Mid-Atlantic footprints and is always considered to be a local trucking company.

Barrett said he thought of the company’s eventual name while traveling through Philadelphia. “I wanted to put a positive spin on it,” he said. “I came up with the name and called my wife. She agreed to it.”

Barrett and his wife started with very little and gradually built up the business.

“I learned how to drive a truck and I liked it,” Barrett said. “So I decided to start my own business.”

Barrett said the purpose of the company is to provide first class transportation products and creative solutions while delighting the traditional and digital customer.

Road Scholar Transport is a carrier with vast pharmaceutical transportation experience and a complete understanding of the regulations, security protocols and equipment requirements.

Charity work as part of an “Awareness Campaign” is also a part of Road Scholar Transport. “We don’t only deliver freight, but we deliver awareness,” said Barrett.

It all started with the pink tractor trailer.

Barrett was unable to attend a walk with his family to support breast cancer, so he promised them he would do something “big” to make up for it.

A week later, a pink trailer rolled into his business lot. It was the birth of a program to partner with organizations and customers to raise awareness with “rolling billboards” on trucks for dozens of affiliations, groups and causes.

Barrett has a particular fondness for children’s causes. Road Scholar Transport created a truck to promote the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation. The goal each year is to support as many children and families as possible.

A single awareness trailer on the road receives between 30,000 to 80,000 impressions in a single day, said Barrett.

Road Scholar Transport’s temperature controlled trucks also provide high security shipping, food grade transport, beer and liquor transport, hazmat and chemical transport, storage trailer rental, expedited and emergency shipping, dimensional freight, cross docking, warehousing, and Road Scholar relay.

“We have 170 temperature controlled trailers, 350 van trailers, and run 125 tractors,” said Barrett. “We operate in 12 states.”

There are 55 “decorated” tractors used for the Awareness Campaign.

“We do it to spread awareness to the less fortunate and for different causes, especially for children,” said Barrett.

Barrett and his wife have four children: Mary Beth, 47; Kathie, 44; Bridget, 43; and Matthew, 40. All of the children work in the business.

The couple has eight grandchildren.

“I love what I do,” said Barrett. “It’s a tidal business. There is an incoming tide and an outgoing tide.

“I don’t look at it as work. When things are going well, it’s addictive.”