BREWSTER, N.Y. -- Brewster's George Godfrey learned nine years ago that he could bring some positive energy to his little corner of the world at the Brewster Train Station - and help himself at the same time.
Godfrey, an 84-year-old lifelong Brewster resident, Korean War veteran (with three Bronze Stars) and 57-year Brewster Fire Department member (11-year captain), lost his wife of 45 years in 2001.
After a few years of dealing with medical and other issues, Godfrey decided he needed to do something. He was missing his longtime partner and needed to occupy his time.
"I figured I'd start coming here (the train station) instead of sitting around the house," Godfrey told Daily Voice.
So in 2008, Godfrey started coming out in the morning to greet commuters.
"I used to walk, and it felt good walking," Godfrey said. "I started to come here to see people... and that felt good. It felt good, and I started ending up here all the time. I met nurses, construction guys, regular commuters, and I enjoyed the interaction."
Now he arrives at the station at 4 a.m., stays until 7:30, then comes back for the 3:15 to 5:05 p.m. "coming home" shift.
Winter, summer, rain, snow, he's there with a smile and a friendly word, and many have come to appreciate his efforts. He's developed relationships with many of the regular commuters he greets and was recently recognized by Metro-North as a "Commuter Greeter Hall-of-Famer."
"People say hello all the time, they shake my hand," he said. "If I wasn't here, I'd be in my recliner going to sleep. So I enjoy it - and in the snow, rain. ... I just wear a coat."
"In the morning the first thing you want to get is the greeting," Pamela Robinson, a regular commuter at the station, said. "And at night when you come home, there's a 'good night,' and that's where you want it. He's fabulous, we love him. We look forward to his hugs... everything is good. He's not fake, he's real, and that's what we all want."
Godfrey said he still misses his wife every day. "Forty-five years married," he said. "It's still hard. Every night I go home and look at her picture. But I have two sons, Ralph and Dan, and they're both close by, and we're all pretty close," he added.
And at the Brewster Station, he's found his second family. And a way to make people smile.
"I find happiness here," he said. "I get to know people, even their families. It's kind of like a second home. But I don't get any meals here," he laughed.
How long will Godfrey keep showing up at the station? "I'll keep coming as long as I can," he said. "I'm happy, and a lot of people are happy to see me."