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A ‘selfless’ leader

Spates, retired postal executive, dies

Mike Spates, shown during his tenure as a USPS executive, died Aug. 28.

Postal Service employees are remembering Mike Spates, a beloved USPS retiree who died Aug. 28 at age 77.

Spates joined the organization as an operations records analyst in 1972 and served in a variety of roles during his 37-year career, including managerial positions in delivery, retail, processing, transportation, pricing and stamps.

Under Spates’ leadership, the processes for walk sequencing mail were integrated into USPS delivery units, marking the introduction of delivery point sequencing.

He also served as a mentor to many employees, including Acting Engineering Systems Vice President Linda Malone, who said Spates helped pioneer the concept of employee engagement many years before its use became widespread.

“Mike understood the power of connecting with his people — understanding who they are and most importantly inspiring them to be a better person and postal worker. When I was a newbie — fresh from the field and new to headquarters — Mike showed me the ropes, as he did with all new employees,” Malone said.

She also recalled his emphasis on using data in operational decision-making.

“Mike’s leadership style and his commitment to allowing the data to determine actions needed has resonated with me throughout my career. I am sure that his legacy will continue,” she said.

Before Spates retired in 2009, he served in two high-profile roles. First, he was named chief of staff to Postmaster General John Potter, then was appointed consumer advocate and vice president.

As Spates climbed the ranks of the organization, he maintained a common touch, even traveling to Fayetteville, TN, to pay tribute to a USPS custodian when the mayor proclaimed a day in the man’s honor.

In addition to his postal career, Spates served as an instructor in the U.S. Army and taught at the University of Maryland’s College of Business and Management, where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

He was survived by his wife, daughters, grandchildren and other relatives.

“Mike was the kindest, most charitable and selfless man, who so many admired,” his obituary stated. “His wonderful sense of humor and quick wit will be forever remembered by all who knew him.”

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