WESTFIELD, NJ – After a 33-year stint at the Westfield Train Station, Murray Perch celebrated his “last stand” as the Sunnyside News provider Saturday morning surrounded by family and lifelong friends.
The Miami native got his first glimpse of the historic hut (built in 1900) when he picked up newspapers for his delivery service three decades ago. A few years later, when the original owner wanted out, Perch swooped in and Sunnyside News was born.
Setting up shop at 3:30 a.m. every day had become routine for the 65-year-old, and leaving it all behind was admittedly bittersweet.
“The people here are the greatest,” Perch said. “You couldn’t ask for a better clientele than the people who come through here. We talk about family, work, everything. It’s like a little barbershop. I know everybody’s family – the good things and the bad things.”
As a token of gratitude, the Downtown Westfield Corporation joined “Murray’s last stand” on Saturday, presenting him with an honorary award.
“I know in the morning it’s kind of tough to get started, but a cheery face like this fellow’s and a good story, he’s a great way to start a day,” said Jeff Christakos, head of the economic development committee of the Downtown Westfield Corporation.
A local legend of sorts, Perch said he has no say in what will become of the news stand at Westfield Train Station, but hopes for the best.
“It’s an institution. This is the place to come to get information,” a loyal supporter said. “Everyone’s going to be falling asleep on the trains now. It’s going to cause chaos and mayhem on NJ Transit.”
As he awaits his first grandchild, Perch has only one plan for retirement: babysitting.