After about 16 years of receiving death-related phone calls "24/7," York County Coroner Barry Bloss is ready to retire and announced Saturday that he won't run for a fifth term. He's endorsing one of his deputies.
Bloss has spent 44 years as an investigator between serving as a York City police officer, sheriff's deputy and coroner, he said on Monday, his 72nd birthday.
While age isn't a consideration, he said he'd rather not be 77 when he leaves office.
The coroner said he is cleared of the stomach cancer that sidelined him about two years ago, but the experience "got my attention enough to think there's more to life than working all the time."
"But I don't like sitting around, and I'll keep active volunteering, maybe through the church or some other groups," he said.
Office grew: He said he's proud of his tenure, which started with him as the county's only death investigator.
"When I first started, there was a time I was out for 36 hours without getting home," he said. "That's not good for you or the people you're serving."
The office has grown to include two full-time deputies and four part-time contractors, said Bloss, noting several "proactive measures" he's initiated to reduce caseload.
The coroner speaks at schools and other venues to raise awareness about preventable deaths.
Year-to-date, there have been 29 traffic fatalities in York County in 2012, he said. When he started, there were more than 80 per year.
He attributed the decrease to seatbelt use and education.
Other programs: Bloss said he has also launched programs to address teen suicide, fall risks in the elderly and sleeping "rollover" deaths of babies whose parents take them to bed. Under the latter program, free cribs are distributed to those who can't afford them.
"People might think of it as a depressing job," he said. "One of the hardest parts of our job is notifying next-of-kin. It's hard enough to see someone who's dead, and in cases where it could have been prevented. But then
knowing I would have to go to someone's house and tell them."
Endorsing deputy: Bloss said he's endorsing one of his deputies, Steve Cosey, with whom he has worked since 1998. Cosey is also his brother-in-law.
He said Cosey has investigated more than 1,000 cases, is fully certified and will continue the proactive measures that Bloss believes have prevented deaths.
Cosey said he'll run on the Republican ticket and, touting his 15 years as a deputy coroner, is ready to step into the position.
The 57-year-old Monaghan Township man said he finds the work interesting and rewarding, and he vowed to carry the office's current emphasis on "competent death investigations, compassion for survivors and cooperation with all involved agencies."
The position pays about $74,000 per year.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.