PROCTOR, Vt. — Kevin Rooney delivered his last letter last week.
The longtime Proctor mail carrier is retiring, an event that resulted in signs wishing him well appearing outside the library and the town clerk’s office.
“Everybody in Proctor loves Kevin,” said Shannon Maass, who put up the signs. “He’s a ray of sunshine when he comes to deliver your mail. . He’s someone you just always look forward to seeing.”
Rooney said he kept his cheer right through his last day.
“My face was hurting, I’ve been smiling so much the last couple days,” the 64-year-old said. “It was kind of a bittersweet smile. As much as I’ve loved the folks, it was nice to end a career on a high note.”
James Ragosta, postmaster for Proctor and Rutland, said Rooney was a pleasure to work with.
“Always happy, always in a good mood,” Ragosta said. “He really cared about his customers and went out of his way to help them.”
Ragosta said he supervised Rooney on and off for years before becoming postmaster.
“I’ve never had a customer complaint called into me on him, which is pretty rare and pretty remarkable,” he said.
Rooney calls himself a journeyman carpenter by trade. He said he joined the postal service about 20 years ago.
“This was a job to be able to have a retirement from and have some benefits,” he said. “I signed up for the test, took the test, was offered the job and decided to do something different.”
He said the Postal Service gave him a great career.
“The icing on the cake was definitely working in Proctor, in a small office in a town with great people,” he said. “I would see kids grow up. You’d see them as they went through school. You’d see their sports victories and defeats. I saw some young families that were very encouraging for the future.”
Rooney didn’t start out in Proctor. He said that after he’d been on the job a couple years, his boss and a mail carrier who was leaving to have a baby “collaborated” to put him there.
“They wanted somebody that everybody could get along with,” he said.
Back then, he said, Proctor had two main carriers — Tom Parker and Danny Dahlin — who had 70 years’ experience between them.
“I figured this was a great place to work if they’d stuck around so long, and one of them going to retire and I’d become a regular,” he said.
Dahlin went first, and Rooney said he took over his route on the western side of Otter Creek. He said he moved to the other side of the creek when Parker retired, and kept that route right up to Wednesday.
“I pretty much got to know everybody in town,” he said.
That said, there were some parts of the job Rooney won’t miss.
“It seems like in the summer, when you’re in your shorts and working on your tan, everybody wants to be the mailman,” he said. “When it’s wintertime and the steps are slippery and the wind is blowing, nobody wants to be the mailman — myself included.”
Now that he’s retired, the Rutland resident said he plans to travel with his wife, 9-year-old granddaughter and long-haired dachshund. The town he spent most of his career in, though, will always hold a place in his heart.
“Proctor’s a special town,” he said. “I always pictured myself as the mailman in a Norman Rockwell painting, or working in Lake Wobegon.”
Information from: Rutland Herald, http://www.rutlandherald.com/