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Living history

Postmaster continues family tradition

Penland, NC, Postmaster Rebecca Davis, shown at her 50th anniversary party
Penland, NC, Postmaster Rebecca Davis, shown at a recent party to mark the 50th year of her postal career, is following in the footsteps of her great-great grandmother.

For Rebecca Davis, working for the Postal Service is more than a job.

Davis is Postmaster in Penland, NC, a community of about 500 residents near the state’s western border. Her great-great-grandmother, Harriet Hensley, also served as Penland Postmaster in the 1800s.

“It’s part of my family tradition,” Davis said.

She began her postal career as a retail clerk in 1967, then became an officer in charge. When the Penland Postmaster job opened, Davis applied and was appointed to the position in 1980.

One of her prized possessions is a black-and-white photo that shows her being sworn in while her father, A.V. Burleson, holds the Bible.

“My mom talked us into dressing in western wear,” Davis recalled with a laugh. “It looks like we’re somewhere out west instead of the North Carolina mountains.”

Davis is proud of her community, which is home to the Penland School of Crafts, the nation’s oldest and largest professional crafts school. She’s also proud of the Penland Post Office, a building listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

“[It’s] like working in a postal museum with the original scales, safe and typewriter,” she said.

Davis’s colleagues admire her dedication.

“Mrs. Davis has unselfishly gone above and beyond for her community for more than 50 years,” said Mid-Carolinas District Post Office Operations Manager Bryan Roberts, adding that he has received letters from several customers who commend her professionalism.

“It’s a true testament of her commitment to customer service.”

Retail Associate Darrell “D.J.” Forbes, the only other employee at the Penland Post Office, called Davis “a good boss and a good friend.”

“I have worked with people who were good for the bottom line or good for morale, but she hits that fine line in the middle,” Forbes said.

Davis returned the compliment.

“We make a decent team,” she said. “Whatever it is, we handle it … just the two of us.”

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