Cassville postmaster to retire

Thursday, March 23, 2006

After 37 years of service with the United States Postal Service, John Walters, Cassville postmaster, will retire on March 31.

"John was easy to work with," said Sherry Miller, who worked under Walters at the Cassville Post Office for around 10 years before serving as Golden postmaster. "He knew his employees and he was willing to lead us in the right way so that we were able to move up and onward in our careers."

Walters began his postal service career shortly after graduating from Pattonville High School, which is near St. Louis.

"Two of my neighbors both worked for the postal service and they were home with their families," said Walters. "My father owned a business and wasn't. I thought if I ever wanted to become a father I wanted to be at home with my family.

"I went straight from high school into the postal service," said Walters. "Then I worked my way up through the ranks."

Walters initial experience with the postal service was at the Hazelwood Post Office where he interviewed for a city delivery carrier position.

"That was the toughest interview I ever had," said Walters. "The postmaster interviewing me had known me since the time I was born. He asked very embarrassing questions because of the knowledge he had of me growing up. I really didn't expect to get the job."

Walters said he remembers the job was more difficult to learn than he had expected. Many area street names and numbers were easily misinterpreted.

"It was physically hard work because you walked six to seven miles a day carrying a pouch," said Walters. "It seemed like a lot more people got magazines.

"Back then, we didn't get overtime until we worked over 40 hours, so I worked a lot of four day weeks and split shifts," said Walters.

Although the work was hard and the hours long, Walters enjoyed his career in the postal service from the beginning.

"I loved it," said Walters. "I got to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. It was a good job."

As Walters worked through nearly four decades of postal service, he saw many changes in the system.

"I've watched the transition from totally manual to highly automated," said Walters. "Everything was hand sorted, which was expensive. Now mail is sorted in sequence for the carrier.

"It has evolved so much," said Walters. "It is still evolving more. Soon when the customer moves the carrier won't even see their mail. It won't go to the old address anymore. It is getting very sophisticated."

Walters spent several years of his career in post office branches around St. Louis and served as post office supervisor at the main branch in St. Louis. Later, for the betterment of his family, Walters took the general mail facility manager position at the Springfield Post Office, but he found himself away from home more than he wanted to be.

In 1991, Walters was named postmaster of the Cassville Post Office.

"The Springfield position was a 24-seven job," said Walters. "With this position, I can leave at a reasonable time and spend time with my family."

Walters supervises the delivery of around 4,500 pieces of mail each day. He is in charge of eight routes, around 600 post office boxes and supervises a staff of 15 employees.

The Cassville Post Office serves around one quarter of Barry County, said Walters. The office helps deliver to portions of Purdy, Shell Knob, Eagle Rock and Exeter.

"I safeguard around $1 million in revenue a year," said Walters. "This is a big office as far as revenue."

Walters also spends a large part of his time solving customer problems and completing mandatory "digital paperwork."

"It's a good mix," said Walters, "computer work, sorting mail and waiting on customers. I answer the telephone a lot and I'm always dealing with customer questions."

Through all his daily duties and responsibilities, Walters enjoys helping customers more than any other aspect of his position.

"I really enjoy making the customers happy," said Walters. "The day-to-day interfacing, that's what I'll miss. I have the tendency to work the window when I probably shouldn't."

Walters said he enjoys his problem solving responsibilities and gets great satisfaction from helping a customer retrieve a needed package.

"The most difficult part of my job is disciplining the employees," said Walters. "This is a family and sometimes it is like disciplining your children."

Throughout his career, Walters has been directly involved in the promotions of six postmasters and over 40 supervisors.

"I'm proud of the number of people I've helped get into higher level positions," said Walters. "It makes me proud to help others satisfy their goals."

After retiring, Walters plans to spend more time with his family and grandchildren.

"I want to fish, hunt, farm and travel, not necessarily in that order," said Walters. "I will also spend more time with the Boy Scouts."

Walters has been active in scouting for 17 years.

"I will miss my employees," said Walters. "I have a very good staff. I really will miss them."

Lee Scriven, La Russell postmaster, will serve as the officer in charge at the Cassville Post Office until April. A permanent postmaster will be selected in the next few months.

Walters' retirement celebration will be held at the Cassville Post Office from 9 a.m. to noon on March 31.

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