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Oldest policeman

  • Charles Correll
    Charles Correll
Published October 28. 2013 05:00PM

The oldest living policeman in Pennsylvania is a native of Tamaqua, and, at age 100, credits oatmeal as a key to his success.

Charles Correll, who hit the century mark on Oct. 6, was recognized this month by the Retired State Police Association Inc. as the state's oldest officer.

Correll, now living in Ephrata, served from 1937 to 1972, at one time making $3 a day riding with a state police rodeo team.

But he and the others had such a good time on horseback that they "felt like they were millionaires," says daughter Jane Correll.

Retired Officer Correll was born in Tamaqua, the third-oldest of eight children and has strong roots in coal mining.

"His father was Roy. His mother was Anna," says Jane. "His grandfather was a supervisor of a colliery on Dutch Hill and his dad's uncle was a coal company policeman."

Jane says other members of the family worked at Atlas Powder Company.

The family lived on Spruce Street and "We went there for every holiday," she says. "He absolutely loved his childhood days in Tamaqua."

Jane says her dad speaks fondly of "sliding down the hills on sleds."

Correll also remembers digging coal after school with his younger brother during the Depression to make money.

The brothers sold the coal packaged in peanut bags. Weighed by the ton, the coal was used to heat schools in Philadelphia.

Correll attended St. Jerome's Catholic High School, Tamaqua, where he was a standout football player.

"He says they had 17 wins in a row," says Jane. In fact, Correll attracted interest from Duquesne University.

However, he had to pass up the opportunity in order to work to feed the family.

He enlisted in the Marines in 1932. In fact six of the eight Correll children served in the military, four in the Marines.

After time in the USMC, he was hired by the state police in 1937. Correll remembers that one of his first assignments was performing traffic control at the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, 1938.

During his career, Correll also helped to interview candidates for Lancaster's Troop J.

Correll enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard when World War II broke out, entering the service as he turned 30.

There, he supervised and instructed the handling of dangerous cargo for war zones in the U.S. and Italy. After the war, he served in the Coast Guard Reserve and was called to duty for the Korean War, 1950 to 1953. He retired from the Coast Guard as commander after 35 years.

Continuing his police work, he coordinated criminal investigations before retiring as lieutenant in July 1972. He lived in Forty Fort at the time one of the most stressful periods in his life. That same year he lost his wife of 30 years, Betty, and then lost his house in the Agnes flood.

He and son Richard, now deceased, rebuilt the home.

Correll lived for a time in Clearwater, Fla., and eventually remarried. He lost his second wife, Alta, after 35 years of marriage.

Correll returned to Pennsylvania in 1995. Jane, one of Correll's two daughters, describes him as a "quiet and unassuming man who tries to handle most issues with humor."

Correll doesn't smoke and tries to exercise daily. He maintained a walking regimen until his vision started to limit him.

"His memory isn't as good and his vision is failing," says Jane.

Still, he's in good overall health and attributes it to good family genes and a daily breakfast of oatmeal, applesauce and honey.

He jokingly says he feeds himself like he fed his rodeo horses.

For his 100th birthday, Correll received a card with 278 signatures, seven full pages, from Erie state police.

He also received a signed photo of the front of his first barracks, Wyoming, Luzerne County.

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