Former Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin
Former Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin (Submitted)
2:30 p.m. update: Former state Rep. Steve Nickol, whose 193rd District overlapped Punt's, summed up Punt's style as a lawmaker in two words: "low key."

"He wasn't someone who often took the floor in the Senate," Nickol said. "He was someone who tended to operate behind the scenes."

Nickol said that low-key approach went back to the beginning of Punt's career, which started almost accidentally. In 1978, he went up against William Shuman - a Democrat who won repeated terms in a predominantly Republican district by virtue of his personal popularity.

Punt was an unknown, Nickol said. The general consensus was that he'd get demolished, but Punt decided to give it a go anyway.

Shuman died during the campaign, and local Democrats couldn't find another candidate, Nickol said.

So Punt won by default. But again, the consensus was that he'd last only one term before someone more experienced and well-known could step in.

"He proved them all wrong," Nickol said.

Bev Mackereth, York County director of human services and former state representative, also had a district that overlapped Punt's. She said Punt was sick for much of the time they served together. But that never stopped him from helping out when she asked for it.

For example, one time he assisted her in her efforts to get a traffic light installed in Dover Township.

"Anytime we needed anything, I could call him and he would help us," she said.


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Terry L. Punt of Waynesboro died Monday, 13 months after retiring from public service.

He was 60.

The longest-serving senator representing Pennsylvania's 33rd Senatorial District, Punt served 10 years in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, then 20 in the Senate representing Franklin, Adams and parts of York counties.

Funeral arrangements by Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home Inc., Waynesboro, are incomplete, but the public viewing and funeral is tentatively set for Monday.

Punt's health problems began a decade ago when he had two heart attacks. He had three more before quadruple-bypass surgery four years ago, then suffered from congestive heart failure.

He announced his retirement in early 2008 when he faced another surgical procedure and opposition from a fellow Republican for his seat. Punt had said he wanted to enjoy being a first-time grandfather.

Punt walked with a cane in recent years as a result of the nerve disorder neuropathy, a side effect of diabetes.

During his time in the Senate, Punt returned more than $11 billion to his district for economic development, highways, education, agriculture and other areas.

Punt was influential on the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee and Transportation Committee.

He rallied support to keep Scotland School for Veterans Children open during the Gov. Robert Casey administration.

He founded a quad-state conference for legislators from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia to discuss common concerns in the Interstate 81 corridor.

Shenandoah University's Institute for Government and Public Service awarded Punt its public service award earlier this month. Waynesboro businessmen discussed earlier this year a statue in his honor.

Punt had portrayed William McSherry, a 42-year-old state senator representing Adams and Franklin counties in 1863, during Civil War re-enactments.

Punt came up with his character while recovering from a heart attack several years ago and researching the longest serving state senators.

Punt was vice chairman of the Rules for Special Session 1, Rules and Executive Nominations and State Government.

G. Warren Elliott, former Franklin County Commissioner and longtime chairman of Punt's campaigns, said Monday, "I had been affiliated with Terry for over 30 years -- long predating me coming in as county commissioner. I first got to know him when he was running for state house in 1979. At that time, what impressed me early on was his sincerity and enthusiasm and energy. I worked for him as a political supporter and was chairman through most of his campaigns.

"Terry was a very warm and selfless human being -- he was like a brother to me. He truly loved the people of his district. He strived very hard to do what he thought was in their best interest and he tried to make Harrisburg work on his district's behalf. He worked 24/7, he lived breathed and worked his job as senator. I believe he was born to be in public office.

"I believe he deeply missed being in public office when he retired. This last year, he enjoyed being around he grandson, for sure, but he really missed working for, seeing and living with the people of his district.

"I think that the national recession in our area has impacted our area less as a result of his many efforts to bring money and jobs back to his district, and to Franklin County. He viewed that as his role. I believe he did a great job at all of it.

"I miss him. I love him. I can't imagine I'm never going to talk to him again," Elliott said.

Sen. Rich Alloway, now serving in the same capacity Punt did for so long, worked for Punt as a young man.

"Terry was a good friend and mentor of mine for many years -- back since I was working the polls when I first got involved in the party when I was 19-20 years old," Alloway said Monday night.

"I've known him a long time. It's a tough day for us. We'll stay focused on the good things he's done for the community. That's all he did was work as a senator for this community to the point of being a workaholic. He loved this community. Franklin County was lucky to have him."

"There are very few people in Franklin County who haven't been touched by his work in Harrisburg," former state Rep. Pat Fleagle said last night as he remembered the many projects he and Punt had worked on together during their time in the state Legislature.

Fleagle said Punt's work ethic set him apart from other legislators, but his imagination and determination to serve his 33rd District constituents.

"He was always thinking of new projects and new ways to help his district," Fleagle said.

Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas called Punt "probably the most influential legislator in Harrisburg" and a dedicated public servant.

Thomas got to know Punt early in both men's political careers, but they became close when Punt supported both Thomas and former Commissioner Warren Elliott in their campaigns for their county seats.

Another close friend was Washington Township Manager Michael Christopher, who said that as a legislator Punt "made things happen" and brought many important projects to his district.

"He did enormous positive things for Franklin County and Waynesboro," he said, ticking off major infrastructure projects, as well as projects like Punt's strong support of Letterkenny Army Depot."When you think of all the money that came into Franklin County (during Punt's legislative career), you think of Terry Punt," he said.

Fleagle, who had known Punt since childhood, said politics had always been a part of Punt's life.

"I knew him in high school, and he was focused on politics even then, unlike many of us who sort of fell into it," he said.

He said Punt overcame adversity in life to achieve great things for his district.

"He found his niche in life and worked it well," he said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi issued a joint statement Monday: "Sen. Punt was a true statesman, a trusted colleague, and a good friend. During his five terms in the state Senate, and his service in the state House before that, Terry represented the people of the 33rd Senatorial District with passion and commitment."

About Terry Punt

  • Age: 60

  • Early days: 1967 graduate of Waynesboro Area Senior High School, where his nickname was "the Gov." Served with the Army in southeast Asia from 1967 to 1970. Worked at Grove Manufacturing in Shady Grove from 1973 to 1978, when he took a leave of absence to run for the House.

  • Political career: Pennsylvania Senate, 1989 to 2008; House of Representatives 1979 to 1988

  • Health: Two heart attacks in 1998. Diabetes since 2000 with a worsening nerve disorder called neuropathy. Quadruple-bypass surgery four years ago.

  • Family: Two grown children, one grandson

  • When he announced his retirement: "To make a difference. That's all I ever wanted to do. Other people will decide whether I've made a difference over the past 30 years."