Friday will be Vicki Shillam's last day as postmaster for the Kenai post office.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Friday is a day that Kenai Postmaster Vicki Shillam has looked forward to with a little anxiety for a long time.
Saturday, however, is a day she's looked forward to with great anticipation for a long time, because on that day, after a postal career that has spanned more than 34 years, Shillam finally will be retired.
"I have a lot of thoughts on it," Shillam said. "It's a big move in a person's life, and half my life has been in this career so it's a little scary, but I think it's time to play."
Shillam's career with the post office began in 1969 when she was hired as a part-time flexible (PTF) clerk in West Point, N.Y.
After one year, she transferred to Alaska, working as a PTF clerk in Anchorage, and received several promotions over the years before achieving Kenai postmaster in 1989.
Shillam also presided as president of the National League of Postmasters, Alaska Branch, from 1990 to 1996.
"It is shared opinion that one of Postmaster Shillam's outstanding attributes is her ability to visualize operational needs and implement the changes needed to facilitate the operational plan," said Teresa Werner, a clerk at the Kenai Post Office and a co-worker of Shillam.
"Whether this be on a permanent or temporary basis, Shillam's effectiveness is unsurpassed on the Kenai Peninsula," Werner said.
Citing an example of Shillam's leadership characteristics, Werner detailed the month of February 2000, when the Seward Highway closed after several avalanches and Shillam oversaw the processing of 15 tons of air freight mail out of Kenai on a 20-by-50-foot dock over a three-day period.
"There's been ups and downs over the years, but, all in all, it's been a very wonderful and fulfilling career," Shillam said.
Although Shillam said she won't miss getting up at 3:30 a.m. every day, she will miss the challenge of the job and working with the public.
"I've made it known to the regulars for a while now, and they know after 34 years I deserve a break, so they're happy for me," she said.
But, as she turns a new page in the book of her life, Shillam said she's got a lot to look forward to. Her significant other retired from Enstar in 1999 and the two have a lot of hobbies that are about to be moved from the back burner to the front.
"We've got a new home in Arizona," Shillam said. "We leave on the second to travel there and around the Lower 48 for two months on our new Harleys. Then we'll be back to live in the Caribou Hills, four-wheeling in summer and snowmachining in winter. I'm really looking forward to it."
After she leaves, the postmaster position will be temporarily filled by the supervisor of customer service until, through open application, a new postmaster is hired.
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