Daily Messenger newspaper carriers Beth and Mike McWilliams are credited with helping to save a life

CANANDAIGUA — Something didn’t seem right.

Mike McWilliams, who is a Daily Messenger newspaper carrier with a walking delivery route in the city, ordinarily leaves a newspaper on an elderly woman’s front porch. She has a habit of picking the paper up within 5 minutes, he said.

But on his way back up the cul-de-sac, McWilliams noticed the paper was right where he left it, untouched.

“This isn’t right,” he said, and called his wife, Beth, who also is a carrier. Together, they handle four routes in the city for the Messenger and he does one on his own.

She called in to Amy Clark, who works in the newspaper’s circulation department. After a few calls, Clark was able to reach a neighbor who checked on the woman’s welfare.

Turns out the woman had fallen from her kitchen chair and couldn’t get up — not even to get to a phone to call for help.

“The poor lady was lying there, we figure for two days at least,” Beth McWilliams said.

The incident happened three weeks ago, and the McWilliams couple were happy to learn the woman was being treated and was expected to be OK.

Coincidentally, Saturday marks International Newspaper Carrier Day, which was created to mark the efforts of those who bring readers their daily fix of news.

Cyndi Fuller, who is home delivery and single copy manager for the Messenger, said this is an example of how on top of the job carriers are. And their attention to detail resulted in a good outcome.

“A great job by the McWilliams family for being so observant,” Fuller said.

Many may consider what the McWilliams couple did as over and above the call of duty, but they consider it part of what they do and who they are.

The McWilliams’ three oldest daughters, Stephanie, Jaimie and Mandie, started in the business first, getting paper routes 33 years ago.

Then their little sister Cara wanted one, too, only she was 9 at the time. So Beth McWilliams had to accompany her. Cara kept at it through high school and two colleges.

Beth McWilliams — who also works at the Canandaigua Primary-Elementary School and is a crossing guard for the police department — is still at it, now with help from husband Mike, 27 years later. He is a retiree from Interstate Brands, where he worked as a route salesman and driver.

Some of the customers have been there with them the whole time. And on a door-to-door route, you get to know the customers — and they get to know you, too, Mike McWilliams said.

“It’s like a family,” Beth said. “Everybody looks out for everybody.”

After the incident, the papers of course still had to get to their customers. And so when Mike returned to the neighborhood and delivered to one of the woman’s neighbors, he got a nice surprise in return.

“She grabbed him and hugged him. ‘You saved her life,’” Beth said. “That was very nice. My husband replied, ‘We’d do it for you, too.’”

Mike said he appreciated the gesture and yes, he said, that is part of the job for him.

“We keep an eye on them,” Mike said.