One day after his 75th birthday, Ron Fisher retires today after 53 years with the U.S. Postal Service. He spent the last 26 years delivering mail on the same Roseburg route.
“I know everybody on my route. I know their names and relatives. I know a lot of their likes and dislikes because I’ve been on this route for so long,” Fisher said.
With more than 900 deliveries on his route, mostly in neighborhoods behind Joseph Lane Middle School, Fisher likely makes contact with 1,500 people or more per day.
Fisher was greeted Friday afternoon by a few familiar faces in the Alameda Ave. Trailer Park, as he distributed mail.
“You’ve been so good to us. If everyone was like you, this would be a better world,” Sharon Williams, 63, of Roseburg said, as she hugged Fisher goodbye.
Williams said every time she has a package, Fisher brings it to her door or leaves it with a trusted friend if she is not home.
“He really cares about people. He asks about their day and always ends a conversation with, ‘You have a great day,’” Williams said. “I’m going to miss him a lot. I wish everyone was like that. He is just wonderful.”
As Fisher returned to the task at hand, he turned and said, “That makes the rest of my day right there. It’s priceless.”
“The people is what makes the job worthwhile. I get my satisfaction out of it,” Fisher said. “I don’t call them customers, I call them friends. I’m going to miss doing something that makes people feel good.”
Fisher got his start with the postal service through an old Navy comrade.
“He went in first and said it was a good job. And it is,” Fisher said.
Fisher spent 23 years working for the Postal Service in Redwood, Calif. When he started, he was a clerk and carrier. He sorted, canceled and routed mail.
During his first year on the job, he had his first and only canine encounter. Fisher said he was talking with a customer when a German shepherd came up from behind and bit him on the leg. Fortunately, the dog got only a mouthful of pants.
“I’ve had a pretty good rapport with dogs since,” he said.
Fisher said another “heart-stopping” experience early in his career occurred when he was supposed to meet a train to pick up mail, but he was late because of a traffic jam.
“I was racing to the train when he saw me and stopped. He backed the train up on the tracks. I probably would have lost my job if he hadn’t,” Fisher said. “It is our job to make sure the right mail gets to the right mailbox and in a timely fashion.”
About halfway through his career, Fisher moved his family to Oregon in 1984 to escape the troublesome neighborhood they were living in. He finished working in California the day before Thanksgiving. He moved to Oregon and started working in Roseburg the day after the holiday, he said. “I’ve never lost a day at work.”
“Since I’ve known him, he has always had a smile on his face. He loves his job and portrays it. He’s a spark plug,” Sutherlin and acting Roseburg Postmaster Lynne Tonn said. “You don’t see the passion that he has for his job, unfortunately, as much as you should. He will be greatly missed.”
Fisher said he is looking forward to traveling and not having to get up at the “crack of dawn.” Getting out of the heat is another retirement bonus.
“Nobody really knows how taxing this job is,” he said.
He will celebrate his retirement with a party Sept. 7 at Vine Street Baptist Church in Roseburg. His invitation reads, “After 53 years of toiling through snow, heat, rain and gloom of night, Ron is retiring!” Relatives from five different states will celebrate with him, he said.
Fisher had these words of wisdom to share with people seeking employment.
“If you’re lucky enough to find a job you’re happy with, even if it doesn’t pay a lot of money, and if you don’t have that stress, then you stay young,” Fisher said. “If you hate your job, you become old before your time.”
• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and email@example.com.