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Fire sparks 4 decades of service in Palmerton volunteer

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    Ed Moyer sits on a bench on Broadway in Jim Thorpe. See a video about Moyer at DANIELLE DERRICKSON/TIMES NEWS

Published May 25. 2019 06:44AM


Ed Moyer knows what it’s like to be in need.

That’s why he’s spent the last some 40 years donating his time to others.

Moyer was born and raised in Jim Thorpe, then Mauch Chunk.

“Nothing was going on in Jim Thorpe back then,” he said.

According to him, it was so quiet, kids played football and rode bikes on Route 903.

After high school, Moyer enrolled at Penn State. He graduated with an associate degree in electronics. At the same time, the country was at war with Vietnam. Moyer said that made finding a job nearly impossible if you hadn’t served.

“When you went for an interview, the first thing they asked you was ‘did you fulfill your military obligation?’ So if you didn’t, your chances of getting hired were very slim,” he said.

That led Moyer to enlist in the Air Force.

“I figured I can improve my education, plus fulfill my military obligation,” he said.

Moyer — like many of his fellow service members who enlisted at the time — met resistance when he came home.

“When I’d come home on leave, we were ridiculed and we were harassed,” Moyer said.

“You just bowed your head and walked away,” he said. “Let it roll off your shoulder.”

After four years of service, Moyer married a Lehighton woman named Barbara (they divorced in the early 2000s.) The two moved to Palmerton and had four children — three sons and a daughter.

Moyer got a job at Western Electric in Allentown, which became AT&T, which was sold to Lucent Technologies, which diversified to Agere Systems.

“I worked for four companies and never moved my desk,” Moyer said.

When Moyer first came to Palmerton, he joined the Palmerton American Legion, the Palmerton Hungarian Club and the Palmerton United Veterans Organization. To this day, he still volunteers with each organization; he’s the commander of the Legion and the secretary for the Hungarian club.

In fact, nowadays, Moyer spends most of his time volunteering. When asked why, he said that one fateful night from his childhood might be the reason.

The year was 1959.

To Moyer’s recollection, it was a Thursday night, around 11 p.m., when he and his family were forced to evacuate their Jim Thorpe home, which was engulfed in flames. Moyer, his four siblings and his parents survived. All they had left were the clothes on their backs.

“We lost everything,” Moyer, who was 12 years old at the time of the fire, said.

“I think of that an awful lot, what it was like not having a single thing, everything you had was gone,” he said. “It was a nightmare at the time.”

But loss isn’t the only thing Moyer remembers. In the aftermath of the fire, neighbors took the family in. They donated food and helped pay bills. And when Moyer’s father decided to rebuild the house, people were there to lend a hand with that, too.

“I think that affected myself and my four brothers and sisters,” he said. “People were so great that we felt there was a need just to pay back. Maybe that’s what I do.”



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