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Unchanging mission

What USPS provides hasn’t ‘stopped yet’

Woman operates mail-sorting machinery on workroom floor
Musette A. Henley operates one of Chicago’s early barcode sorters in 1983.

The first 50 years of USPS as an independent federal agency has been a story of change, be it in governance, working conditions or how the mail gets delivered.

But one thing hasn’t changed: the Postal Service’s mission to bind the nation.

Many of the 25 employees who participated in the USPS 50th Anniversary Oral History Project, which the organization recently conducted to mark its transition from the Post Office Department to an independent federal agency on July 1, 1971, shared their thoughts about the steadfastness of the USPS mission.

William E. Geake, a letter carrier in Barre, VT, carries out the mission through serving his customers.

“It’s the customer contact that’s stayed the same,” said Geake, who joined the Post Office Department in 1968. “[W]hen I first started, I started developing relationships with my customers. I stopped and I talked to the ones … that weren’t feeling that great, and I would check on them. And when I see the mail build up, I knock on the door and make sure they’re OK. That hasn’t changed. That’s pretty much stayed the same.”

Maintaining the public’s trust is a top priority for Musette A. Henley, a customer relations coordinator in Chicago.

“Nothing’s better than the Postal Service. And the trust — and even our customers, you know, when they call now, even since we’re in this pandemic, there’s nothing more important than the mailman now,” said Henley, who joined the Post Office Department in 1961.

“And if they don’t see — people tell me … they’ve been sitting in the window, waiting for the mailman. They watch, and they’ll tell me, ‘The mailman didn’t come all day.’ So, it’s a wonderful thing, when you think about it, to work for a company who for all these many years has been able to maintain the trust of the public,” she said.

Darold L. Woodward, a retail associate in Albion, MI, cites the Postal Service’s universal service mandate.

“We touch everybody. We deliver to every address in the United States. We aren’t always able to make a great profit, but we have such a service that we provide,” said Woodward, who joined the Post Office Department in 1968. “We go everywhere. We aren’t picking and choosing where we deliver mail. And we do the hard work. We help everybody. And I just love to do it, I really do.”

For Dannie Dorothy McGill, a Greenwood, MS, retail associate, dependability is the heart of the organization.

“Rain, shine, sleet or snow, you know, we just continue to go,” said McGill, who joined the Postal Service in 1971. “And, and I’m glad to be a part of that organization. And it just makes me feel good, because, you know, we haven’t stopped, even during this pandemic. We haven’t stopped yet.”

This is the fourth of four articles spotlighting “Fifty Years of Service to the Nation: Highlights From the USPS 50th Anniversary Oral History Project.” Share your feedback at