WAVERLY TWP. — The death Sunday of William Warren Scranton Jr. brought sadness to many who crossed paths with the former Pennsylvania governor, congressman, presidential candidate and ambassador to the United Nations. But for one Lackawanna County man, the death brings an end to a 60-year employer-employee relationship.
In 1953, Lou Mastro was a 24-year-old U.S. Army veteran who had just returned stateside after serving in the conflict in Korea. Scranton was 36 and employed at the Scranton-Lackawanna Trust Co. in the city that bore his family’s name.
Scranton needed a caretaker for his Glenburn Township homestead; Mastro needed a job.
Mastro, now 84 and still living in his own family’s homestead along Route 632 in Waverly Township, said he accepted the position begrudgingly, expecting not to like it very much and not to keep it for too long. But he found working for the Scrantons to be a pleasant surprise.
Devoted, caring man
“I found out right away what kind of a man he was. He was just so kind, always asking you how you were,” Mastro recalled Wednesday, only days after his friend and boss succumbed to a cerebral hemorrhage at a retirement community in Montecito, Calif., where he lived with Mary, his wife of 71 years. Scranton was 96.
“If all men were as devoted to their wife as he was, the world would be a better place,” Mastro said.
While Mastro never lived at any of the three Waverly-area homesteads the Scrantons resided in, their homes were always within miles of his own house that he shared with his parents until they died three decades ago. Mastro never married and said his time was dedicated to caring for both the Scrantons and his own parents.
Mastro worked as a groundskeeper, handyman and more for the Scrantons, first at their home in Glenburn, then at their Marworth estate in Waverly and finally — and to this day — at their Infield estate near Lilly Lake in Waverly.
As Scranton climbed the political ladder — first serving one term in Congress from 1961-62, then a term as Pennsylvania’s 38th governor from 1963-67 — Mastro did was what asked of him. Often it meant caring more for the house, Mary and the children than “Mr. Scranton,” as Mastro still calls him, as he was often away from the homestead.
“As long as you did your work, Mr. Scranton never hollered at you. He’d never order you to do anything. He’d always say, ‘Would you please do this when you get a chance,’ ” Mastro said during an interview in which he kept speaking about his longtime boss in the present tense.
Mastro said he felt — and was treated as if — he was part of the family and noted that as a thank-you gift for 50 years’ of service, the Scrantons gave him a new Cadillac in 2003.
Intersecting with politics
Though Mastro thought his time in the Scrantons’ employ would be short, as time went on and years passed and Scranton climbed the political ladder — running for president in 1964 and later serving as ambassador to the United Nations — he found himself enjoying his work and his interactions with Scranton.
“I do not regret one minute of it,” Mastro said.
In addition to meeting dignitaries including the late former congressman and President Gerald Ford and the late former U.S. senator and ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge, Mastro said he remembers a party hosted by the Scrantons in Waverly for ambassadors from the United Nations.
“They were there dressed in their native garb; it was quite the sight to see,” Mastro said with a chuckle. “And it rained so hard everyone had to stay indoors.”
Mastro said that while there was no doubt Scranton came from wealth and was wealthy himself, he never looked down on anyone. “He was always for the lower class. He was raised in a well-off family, but the whole family cared for other people,” said Mastro, whose father, Frank, worked for Mary’s mother and step-father in a similar capacity as Mastro worked for the Scrantons.
The last time Mastro saw Scranton was in May, when his boss came to Waverly to tend to some affairs. His eyesight was fading but other than that, said Mastro, his health seemed relatively good for a 95-year-old.
When Scranton left, Mastro said, he told his longtime employee, “I hope to see you soon.” Those hopes ended Sunday when Scranton passed.
“The community has lost a great citizen; he was a very modest and caring person,” said Mastro. “Personally, I lost a very good friend. I got to love him as a friend.”