'Everyone's Friend' receives birthday surprise

DeWaine Starkweather holds the hat sent to him by his favorite tractor company, John Deere. Employees at the Tioga County Courthouse surprised him with the hat for his 65th birthday.

WELLSBORO — Every day, DeWaine Starkweather helps around the Tioga County Courthouse.

Until the COVID-19 shutdown, you could find him daily traveling from office to office, picking up outgoing mail and delivering new mail. Sometimes he helps move boxes.

Tall and lean, his loose-limbed walk takes him from place to place with surprising speed. Visitors will see photos of him decorating many of the offices, such as the time he won the laptop computer or wearing ribbons won at the Special Olympics.

Occasionally you’ll find a pen that reads “DeWaine Starkweather — Everyone’s Friend.” They were purchased a few years ago by attorneys Tom Walrath, Steve Banik and District Court Judge Rob Repard and distributed throughout the courthouse offices.

“DeWaine is a big help,” said one courthouse employee. “He’s always here to help us. He never complains. We missed him when he couldn’t be here.”

For his 65th birthday on June 24, his friends at the courthouse decided to do something special. They are well aware of Starkweather’s appreciation of John Deere tractors. He often talks about watching videos of John Deere tractors at work on his iPad and frequently wears one of his many John Deere ball caps when volunteering at the courthouse.

The courthouse staff wrote a letter to the John Deere corporate office through contacts with Lindsey Equipment, a local John Deere franchise. On Aug. 4, a package arrived at Repard’s office, delivered, naturally, by DeWaine. Inside was a John Deere ball cap, black with the signature green color, and a letter from Wendy B, a global service center specialist.

She apologized for the lateness, but noted “we wanted to let you know that we appreciate your loyalty to John Deere and are happy to help you celebrate your 65th birthday. … We would also like to thank you for all the work you do volunteering in your local community. Your work is inspiring and much appreciated.”

“I was surprised,” said Starkweather. “It was a nice thing they did for me.”

In addition to volunteering at the courthouse, Starkweather also volunteers at the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, cleans houses, and helps his nephew, Tim Kaltenbach, at haying season when those John Deere tractors are running nearly non-stop.

“He deserves recognition for all he does for the courthouse. He’s very conscientious,” said a courthouse employee.