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Punt recalls Pearl Sherrah

July 30, 1997

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - When Pearl Sherrah died Saturday night, her survivors included three biological children and one foster son, State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Pa., of Waynesboro.

Sherrah, who suffered from kidney disease, died in the emergency room at Washington County Hospital.

She lived most of her married life on Phillips Avenue in Waynesboro's west end with her husband, Raymond E. Sherrah, who died in 1981, her two sons, David and Kenneth, and her daughter Donna.

It was the same house where, in October 1949, 7-week-old Terry Punt was dropped off at her doorstep. The Sherrahs were his great-aunt and uncle.

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"All I was left with were the clothes I was wearing and two bottles," he said.

He said his natural mother had birth complications after he was born at Waynesboro Hospital. She was also raising his 2-year-old brother, he said.

Punt said he still doesn't know the circumstances surrounding his natural mother and father. "Before I was dropped off I had been passed around from home to home," he said.

At first a surprised Raymond Sherrah didn't know what to do. According to Punt, Sherrah told his wife, "This is the Punt baby. If he dies here we'll be blamed for it."

Pearl Sherrah went to the attic and brought down clothes and diapers outgrown by her two sons, then 8 and 5, Punt said.

She took Punt to a doctor and was told he was in good health. "The doctor said there was nothing wrong with me that love and food wouldn't cure," he said.

Punt ended up staying with the family.

"To me Pearl and Ray were my real parents. They kept me and raised me. David, Ken and Donna were my brothers and sister," Punt said.

He said he was always treated as an equal in the family.

"They were hard-working, honest people. They taught me my values," he said.

Punt joined the Army after high school in 1967 and served for three years. In 1973 he ran for county treasurer and lost, but not before he sold his house for campaign expenses and quit his job.

He got a new job at Grove Worldwide in the Purchasing Department. Five years later he quit that job, sold his house and made a successful run for the state House of Representatives.

Punt served five terms in the Pennsylvania House and was elected to the state Senate in 1988.

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