‘Cheers’ Mail Carrier Delivers Fan Letter to Hands-On Learning

“What’s your favorite David Niven movie?” John Ratzenberger asked an audience of Penn College students Thursday, quickly proving that celebrity – even for an Oscar-winning box-office king of the 1940 and ’50s – lasts about a generation at best. “It’s not the actors, it’s not the sports stars,” he said. “They’re just a little piece of the icing on the cake. If you want to be truly famous, invent something that furthers mankind. Wake up each morning and put your hand to something useful.” Known for portraying postal worker Cliff Claven on “Cheers” and as a beloved voice actor for every Pixar film ever made, Ratzenberger has found his favorite role as an advocate for skilled American labor. He visited Thursday and Friday as a special centennial guest, touring campus and talking with students, employees and friends of the college during presentations in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium and the Community Arts Center. “I wanted to be with my heroes,” he told students. “People who actually know how to make things. The only thing that makes the country strong is manufacturing; it’s what brought us to the dance.”

– Photos by Cindy D. Meixel, writer/photo editor; Marc T. Kaylor, student photographer;
Jennifer A. Cline, writer/editor-One College Avenue; and Tom Wilson, writer/editor-PCToday

John Ratzenberger tells Penn College students that their skills are to America's success "what spinach it to Popeye." "Imagine if all the truck drivers pulled off the road for a day or a week ... all the welders, electricians, carpenters, plumbers," he said in the Klump Academic Center. "Civilization would grind to a halt."

John Ratzenberger tells Penn College students that their skills are to America’s success “what spinach it to Popeye.” “Imagine if all the truck drivers pulled off the road for a day or a week … all the welders, electricians, carpenters, plumbers,” he said in the Klump Academic Center. “Civilization would grind to a halt.”

President Davie Jane and Fred Gilmour enjoy a light moment with the speaker in the Capitol Lounge ...

President Davie Jane and Fred Gilmour enjoy a light moment with the speaker in the Capitol Lounge …

... before turning toward the camera's lens.

… before turning toward the camera’s lens.

"You are the future of this country," Ratzenberger tells students in the ACC. "It's not the theorists. It's not us in show business. It's the people who can make stuff. The tinkerers – taking things apart, putting things together. That's how empires are created."

“You are the future of this country,” Ratzenberger tells students in the ACC. “It’s not the theorists. It’s not us in show business. It’s the people who can make stuff. The tinkerers – taking things apart, putting things together. That’s how empires are created.”

Touring the archery range with coach Chad L. Karstetter and national bowhunter champion Kendel F. Baier

Touring the archery range with coach Chad L. Karstetter and national bowhunter champion Kendel F. Baier

Ratzenberger's videos and books, available for signing at the CAC

Ratzenberger’s videos and books, available for signing at the CAC

Flanked by college and centennial banners, President Gilmour welcomes the campus community to the evening's presentation.

Flanked by college and centennial banners, President Gilmour welcomes the campus community to the evening’s presentation.

On a red-letter day for blue-collar heroes, the son of a factory worker and truck driver celebrates a skilled workforce.

On a red-letter day for blue-collar heroes, the son of a factory worker and truck driver celebrates a skilled workforce.

With a resume that includes "sportsman," Ratzenberger wastes little time hitting his stride at the indoor archery range.

With a resume that includes “sportsman,” Ratzenberger wastes little time hitting his stride at the indoor archery range.

Joined by Mike and Marsha Cunningham, the guest of honor grabs a Tweet-worthy photo of his book.

Joined by Mike and Marsha Cunningham, the guest of honor grabs a Tweet-worthy photo of his book.

The actor/advocate takes the stage, finding humor in life and optimism in students with "degrees that work."

The actor/advocate takes the stage, finding humor in life and optimism in students with “degrees that work.”

President Gilmour helps the speaker field closing questions during an ACC give-and-take in which he solicited applause for someone else who accomplishes great things with her hands: sign-language interpreter Sarah S. Moore.

President Gilmour helps the speaker field closing questions during an ACC give-and-take in which he solicited applause for someone else who accomplishes great things with her hands: sign-language interpreter Sarah S. Moore.

Ratzenberger obliges Bill Muzic with his autograph.

Ratzenberger obliges Bill Muzic with his autograph.

The Gilmours relax with their guest, along with Lenore G. Penfield, director of facilities utilization and college events.

The Gilmours relax with their guest, along with Lenore G. Penfield, director of facilities utilization and college events.

Fresh from a bull's eye or two, Ratzenberger signs the target to the college archery team – including a message, "Thanks for letting me shoot."

Fresh from a bull’s eye or two, Ratzenberger signs the target to the college archery team – including a message, “Thanks for letting me shoot.”

Among those at a reception and book-signing are, from left, Elizabeth G. Verbos, coordinator of admissions and enrollment event services; Elliott Strickland Jr., chief student affairs officer; and Tom Gregory, associate vice president for instruction.

Among those at a reception and book-signing are, from left, Elizabeth G. Verbos, coordinator of admissions and enrollment event services; Elliott Strickland Jr., chief student affairs officer; and Tom Gregory, associate vice president for instruction.

Extolling the virtues of builders, Ratzenberger speaks from the stage of an exemplary facility.

Extolling the virtues of builders, Ratzenberger speaks from the stage of an exemplary facility.

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