Frequent customers of the Kasilof Post Office would no doubt recognize the familiar and always smiling face of Postmaster Carol Joyce, but the days of seeing her behind the counter will soon be gone.
"I'm retiring. Tuesday, March 31 will be my last day," she said.
Joyce has been there long enough that most everyone knows her, at least by face, if not by name. She's been at the Kasilof Post Office for 22 of the 32 years she has been a postal employee.
"I came to Kasilof in 1987, back when the post office was still in the store (now known as the Kasilof Mercantile), and I moved with it when it moved into this new building in 1988," she said.
As to how she got involved in postal work, Joyce said it was entirely by chance.
"I came to Alaska to visit friends, and my husband was helping a friend in Homer for a few weeks. I had time on my hands and one thing led to another. I decided to do it for awhile and it turned into 33 years," she said.
Before heading north to Kasilof, Joyce initially worked for 11 years in the Clam Gulch Post office, or the tiny shack that served as one for many years.
"It was the size of a walk-in closet, so if we got too many parcels, I had to put them in my car. And after it closed, but before we went to the new building, I even ran it out of my home for a few years," she said.
While many look forward to the day they can actually retire, Joyce said now that the time is near, the feeling was bittersweet because there is a lot about her work she enjoyed.
"The customers were my favorite part, giving good service to good people. I'll miss everyone so much, but Carol (Marsh, who will be the postal officer in charge until the postmaster position is filled) said I can come by and stand by the door to greet people from time to time," Joyce said.
Joyce said she will also take with her all the years of memories she has made from working in post offices all around Alaska.
"I'm a trainer for the post office, so I've worked in darn near every village in the state, and I've had so many adventures and experiences and made so many friends out there," she said.
In fact, Joyce said one of her fondest memories from her many years of work was being part of a project to help postal employees in remote areas of Alaska.
"The pinnacle of my whole career was working on a diversity project with other postmasters from the Yukon-Kuskokwim River Delta. It dealt with cross-cultural understanding and postmasters helping each other. The project won a national award from more than 1,000 other projects," she said.
But despite how much she has enjoyed her career, Joyce said she believes it is finally time to turn the next page in the book of her life.
"I could have retired years ago, but just didn't feel ready. Now, though, I feel like I better get to doing those 'someday projects' with my husband. I didn't want to wait so long I couldn't enjoy them," she said.
Joyce said since she has always worked full-time since coming to Alaska, she is eager to see what life in the Great Land feels like when not punching a time card.
"I want to see what it feels like just to live here," she said.
The Kasilof Post Office will have a retirement reception for Joyce from 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday. For more information, call Marsh at 262-7458 or 398-6189.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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