Unsung Hero #135

For 40 years, Ruth Kuhn and her husband made sure that before tossing garbage bags into the transfer station pit, their keys were safely stashed in their pockets.

For 40 years, the precaution worked.

Last week though, Ruth was distracted. The instant it happened, she watched helplessly as her key chain — holding 4 car keys, house keys, garage key and mini-garage door opener — sailed all the way down, with her trash, into the dump far below.

She heard it all land. And then there was silence.

She feared all her keys were gone, forever.

The dump.

Other people came by. Unaware of her plight, they tossed their garbage onto hers.

Then a wonderful thing happened. Workers Mark Meyer and Buddy Valiante, and John Davis of Malone’s Refuse, noticed her distress.

Without hesitation, they offered to help. While easing her anxiety with good-natured reassurance and support, they used long-hooked poles — from “seemingly out of nowhere” — to locate her keys. They extracted them, then returned them to Ruth.

“For Bud’s steady assistance, and to Mark and John who made it happen, I extend my very deepest appreciations,” Ruth says.

“And not only for what each of you did, but as well for who you are. It would have been so easy to walk away. I owe you each a very considerable debt of gratitude.”

Bud, Mark and John would probably say “it’s all part of a day’s work.”

It wasn’t. It’s part of what makes our town a community.

Thanks, guys. You are Ruth’s — and our — Unsung Heroes of the week.

Buddy Valiante in 2018, helping at the transfer station. (Photo/Cindy Mindell)

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

11 responses to “Unsung Hero #135

  1. Having lost my keys more than a few times I can imagine what Ruth Kuhn must have felt like: You feel as if you’ve been “locked” out of your entire life; without the “keys,” you’re nobody. So, thanks the the guys at Malone’s Refuse. But what caught my eye was the item the man was holding — that someone had discarded; and in the background, in the shed, more of our disposable, throw-away style of living.

  2. Chip Stephens SHS 73

    Here’s to Bud, Mark and John going above and beyond.
    Bud Valiante has long been a friendly and helpful member of the “Transfer Station Crew” for years, just ask and he is there to help. Don’t ask and he is still there to help. Bud comes from a long time Westport family all who have lived here for decades and served the needs of this town in their individual roles.
    Westport’s character shines in the long timers that have maintained and served with a smile and willingness to help.

  3. was/am so touched….and miss you from Colorado.

  4. Ellen Naftalin

    I know the feeling. I always go through an ordeal at the transfer station with my keys but I know that one of these days…. The “Transfer Station Crew” are always so nice and helpful and they make my day a little brighter whenever I go there.

  5. Michael Calise

    They are a great crew. They take their work seriously and are always in a good and receptive mood. “Hands On” takes on a new meaning when you arrive at the transfer station and you are greeted by Buddy and the crew!

  6. Dick Lowenstein

    Bud Valiante! A two-time unsung hero:


    I wrote something then, and I’ll say it again: “When we hear criticisms of government, remember that it’s people like Bud who do the work that makes the wheels go ’round.”

  7. Malone’s was my trash company for 30 years. They are awesome. Never had a moment of trouble and when I moved and couldn’t convince them to somehow keep me as their customer they made sure my transition to Cousins was seamless. So far so good but I do miss my Malone days.

  8. Cool story. I suppose this is a small thing in a world filled with so much tragedy, but it’s one of my core beliefs that the accumulation of small things – both good and bad – tends to outweigh the big stuff we hear about on the evening news. I don’t know the Malone’s crew, but it sounds to me like they’re doing their part to keep the needle pointing in the right direction. I’m glad Ms. Kuhn got her keys back..

  9. I am so honored to consistently be greeted by Bud every time I go to the station! I always receive such outstanding service from him as at times I count on him to help me when I need help unloading heavy stuff! I truly admire his dedication to his position and to everyone who goes there! He is a wonderful example of a professional and kind town employee! So thankful for him! Bless you Bud!

  10. K.F . Spearen

    I just noticed this … Buddy was and still is Very Helpful with helping me unload my vehicles .. I couldn’t walk for two years due to health issues .. When ever I backed into the dump area , he always went out of his way to Help me … He’s one of those rare Good Guys , who’s always willing to help others ..