Morristown mourns postman who delivered smiles in all weather

Gary Nobles, as Morristown will remember him--always smiling. Photo by Maureen Denman
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In an abrasive world, a friendly hello can go a long way. It did for postman Gary Nobles, whose death early Saturday has stunned and saddened Morristown merchants and residents.

Nobles, 60, died at his Dover home, friends said. The cause has not been disclosed.

Every day for years, he faithfully delivered good cheer along with the mail, according to people along Nobles’ downtown mail route.

The late Gary Nobles, left, and his friend David Denman. Photo courtesy of Maureen Denman.

“It won’t be the same without him,” said Ann Schrevens, manager of the Lauren B boutique. “He was such a positive, upbeat person.”

“I can’t believe he’s gone,” said Dave Walters, owner of SmartWorld Coffee. “He was the nicest guy in the world.”

A wake is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019, from 6 pm to 9 pm in Morristown at the Calvary Baptist Church, where Nobles was an usher. Another viewing is set for 10 am to 11 am on Wednesday, Sept. 4, with a funeral service immediately afterward. The address is 10 Martin Luther King Ave.

Nobles’ faith was important to him, said longtime friend Maureen Denman.

“He brought so much joy to so many people. He viewed himself as one of God’s disciples,” she said.

Nobles never owned a mobile phone, preferring real conversations, Denman said. The letter carrier’s mile-wide smile made an impression on everyone who experienced it.

He smiled “like he knew something we all didn’t know,” said Mayor Tim Dougherty.

“Definitely, the landscape has changed in our downtown by not having that smiling face every day,” he said.

For the time that I had the pleasure to work with Gary Nobles, he was always smiling and always had something positive to say about everyone. He never had a negative comment about anyone. He will be sadly missed,” said former Morristown Postmaster Janice Peters, now an operations manager for the Northern New Jersey District.

“Gary always had that big smile waiting for me,” Denman recounted. “Every time he saw me, he made me feel like the most special person in the world.”

Nobles worked for years with her husband, now retired from the Postal Service. If she had a spat with her spouse, she said, Nobles would remind her: “You know you love him.”

“And he’d have me smiling when I walked away. Not many people have that gift. He could do that.”

‘WHERE ARE YOUR SHORTS?’

Born and raised in Kinston, N.C., Gary Louis Nobles graduated from the University of North Carolina and was a lifelong Tar Heels fan, Denman said.

Nobles’ cheerful demeanor changed when he put down his mailbag and picked up a basketball.

“He was a very fierce competitor. I’d rather have him on my side than play against him,” said Christopher “Chipper” Brown, Morristown High ’79, who played pick-up ball with Nobles in men’s leagues in Morristown and Parsippany in the 1980s and ’90s. “We recruited him, that’s how good he was,” Brown said of the power forward.

Nobles enjoyed fishing trips with Postal Service colleagues, and watching golf. A postal employee for nearly 33 years, he was starting to speak of retirement, Denman said.

Dedicated, dependable and hard-working, Nobles took pride in his job, mentored new hires and got high marks from customers, said Peters, his former postmaster.

Nobles liked to joke about his postal uniform shorts.

“He always would wait until the very last minute to change into shorts, because once he went to shorts, he’d say, ‘there was no going back until winter,'” said Schrevens, the boutique manager. “I will miss him. It’s so sad. He knew everyone in town.”

Traffic Officer Rodney Davenport of the Morristown Parking Authority said he will miss bantering with Nobles, too.

“He would be telling me, ‘Hey, where are your shorts?'” said Davenport. “We always joked around.”

Now, he said, “everyone’s in shock.”

Mike Killen, a regular at the coffee shop, and Gretchen Braunschweiger of Braunschweiger Jewelers both used the word “upbeat” to characterize the letter carrier.

“He was just such a nice guy who made an effort to really know all the people on his route,” Braunschweiger said.

Nobles “brought a community sense to this part of town,” said Pastor David Smazik of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown.

“He was a very engaging gentleman, the kind that seemed to seek out contact with you, walking on the same side of the street or the opposite side of the street,” the minister said.

Nobles is survived by his wife Celeste; sisters Mary Nobles Jackson of Virginia and Ann Nobles of Florida; and brothers Al of Morristown, Will of North Carolina and James (“Poogie”) of Pennsylvania.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. I learned on this past Thursday of Gary’s passing. We attended S.C. State together and were roommates in Mitchell Hall. Unfortunately I had not seen him since our days at S.C. State but kept up with him through another Bulldog, Herm Johnson. My sincerest condolences to his family and extended families of NC and NJ. Rest in Peace Nobles.

  2. I attended S.C.STATE with Gary and we called each other the Back Stabbers, He was a outstanding young man.

  3. God has called Gary home. I will miss him & his smiling face. Everyday for the last 13 years he has delivered our mail at 11 South Street. Those “shorts” will always be with me. My deepest sympathies to his wife & family. May the peace of Christ sustain you in your grief. Gary, I pray your soul be will be at peace, now & forever. Your friend Cindy, whom you cheered up daily.

  4. Rest in peace my dear smiling classmate. You will be remembered by all of us. We love you Gary!!

  5. Gary was a great guy. He was a man who stood for right. His talent went far beyond . NEWJersey has lost a great man. Kinston has lost a Son.

  6. I’ve since moved away, but the 7 years I used to work in Morristown were always brightened by Gary’s warm smiles and deep laughs. He genuinely enjoyed people, and his positive nature radiated and touched everyone lucky enough to be around him. I haven’t seen him in over 7 years, but I’m truly heartbroken. He has touched so many hearts, and I will be remember him as one of the truly good ones.

  7. God’s light beamed right through him everyday on his route without fail. I looked forward to seeing him daily on my walk. Stunning that he is gone. May his example of faith, kindness and boundless optimism live on with those he touched.

  8. I was told that I knew Gary. After reading all the comments about him, I can say if I didn’t know him I do now. You’ve taken your rest. You will be forever remembered and held dearly in those who knew you.

  9. So very sad. Gary was a beacon of positivity bringing a smile to everyone’s face. Loved seeing his big broad smile every single day. He’ll truly be missed. Amazing the impact he made on everyone who came to know him in Morristown. He was truly one in a million!! Heartfelt condolences to his family.

  10. We, the Kinston High School Class of 1977 extend our deepest condolences to the family of Gary, our beloved classmate. We pray for comfort and peace as you go through the days ahead. Rest easy dear friend.

  11. Aikou will miss you ,a good guy Gary ! always smile and nice talking , always around the morristown busy on the street ! thanks Gary !

  12. real sad to hear about this, my condolences to the Nobles family. I’m a Dover carrier and always enjoyed chatting it up with Gary whenever I was on his route. He was a great guy and will be missed by the Dover letter carriers.

  13. A great friend. A man i had the privilege of playing basketball with.He we be missed. He touch the lives of many.He could make you laugh. Thank you Mr.Gary Nobles

  14. Wow I’m in shock. I retired in October 2018 and Gary and I would often talk about retiring. Gary and his wife were a couple of the nicest people on my route. May God be with the Noble family in their time of grief.

  15. Sad time as we mourn the passing of an Angel. He was kind . He was the best of men.
    Will miss him.
    I hope we can follow this angel’s lead , and be as kind and good as he was.
    His smile lives on!
    Ted

  16. I didn’t know Gary Nobles well. We would exchange quick hellos and smiles when he delivered the mail to Smart World Coffee and acknowledged me in my habitual corner seat. When I was walking the side streets of Morristown, trying to fill my daily quota of steps, I would sometimes cross his mail delivery path. I would joke that he got paid to get his steps. He would laugh. He was a busy man, but we would sometimes exchange a little small talk, most often about basketball. This morning, I went online to get my morning dose of MorristownGreen news, and I was shocked to learn of his death. He always appeared so healthy and vibrant. As casual as our relationship was, his death will leave a void with me. I am sure there are many who feel the same. Gary was an antidote to the uncivil world we often experience. I will miss him.

  17. Quite possibly one of the most genuine nicest guys I have ever met! I have worked the streets of Morristown and have been friends with Gary over 25 yrs and I can honesty say I don’t ever recall a day he was in a bad mood! Gary touched the lives of all he encountered and left us all with a warm smile, a kind word and the challenge of being good to one another as human beings! His legacy will live forever but the streets of Morristown truly will never be the same! Rest easy my friend…love and miss ya brother!! We are all better for having made your acquaintance!

  18. Perhaps one of the nicest most genuine guys I have ever met…a warm smile and a kind word for all he encountered! I’ve been Gary’s friend for 25 yrs and to say I am saddened would be an understatement! Truly one of a kind and we are all better for having made his acquaintance, the streets of Morristown will never be the same! Miss ya brother!

  19. This is going to be hard especially when you would see him just about every day. I’ve known Gary for over 20 years and just chatted with him last Friday. Going to really miss his smile and great personality… what a magical man.

  20. Tears, the ones you cry when you loose a loved one; they fill your eyes, your nose, your throat, and your heart hurts. We’ve lost a shining light but we all know the magic of a smile thanks to Gary.

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