Gladys Mary Smith, 92, dedicated Daily News deliverer

Posted: October 31, 2013

GLADYS MARY SMITH was one of the best friends the Daily News and Inquirer ever had.

For more than 20 years, Miss Polly, as she was affectionately known, delivered the newspapers in the West Philadelphia area with an unrivaled passion and dedication.

Folks who lived near her home on Catharine Street would hear her car rev up at 3 or 4 a.m. on Sundays to handle the Sunday Inquirer. Those who knew her - and just about everybody did - would roll over and say, "There goes Miss Polly to deliver the papers."

Through snow, rain, heat or gloom - to paraphrase the letter carrier's creed - Miss Polly's customers could count on getting their newspapers.

And even if the truck drivers shorted her for some reason, her customers were never shorted, because she would go to stores and buy papers with her own money to take to them.

Gladys Mary Smith, who began delivering newspapers because she couldn't sit still after retiring as a dental technician, died Oct. 15 of heart failure at age 92.

She was still working until the day before her death, her family said.

As a newspaper deliverer, she had stands at 57th and Catharine streets and on Woodland Avenue. She also sold papers at what is now the St. Cyprian Parochial School at 63rd Street and Cobbs Creek Parkway, and had a home-delivery route as well.

Gladys served in the Army during World War II, stationed in Utah. After the military, she became a dental-lab technician, making dentures for the Dental Co. of Bryn Mawr.

Gladys was a voracious reader. She haunted the Blanch A. Nixon/Cobbs Creek Library, at 5800 Cobbs Creek Parkway. Adventure and mystery stories were her favorites. She received gift cards from the library for being such an avid reader.

"I am able to travel all over the world through these books," she used to say.

Gladys was born in Philadelphia to Willis Page Smith. She took care of her mother for over 30 years until her death at 95. She was also the caregiver for her only sibling, Frederick Douglas Smith, when he became ill, until his death at 75.

"Miss Polly felt very proud that she was able to be there for her family," her family said. "We will miss this newspaper-delivery icon, but we will especially miss this wonderful woman who would help anyone."

You knew you were in her favor, if, in leaving you, she signed off with a "Bye, sugar."

She had no immediate survivors.

Services: Memorial service 11 a.m. Saturday at the Flemuel Brown Jr. Funeral Home, 60th and Catharine streets.

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