It has been said that rarely is Donny Halvorson at a loss for words.
On Friday (Nov. 9) after Donny arrived at the post office to find his co-workers, family and friends gathered to recognize him for 50 years of service as a Federal postal employee, Donny was stunned into silence.
“I’m flabbergasted,” Donny said after gaining his composure. “It’s been fun. I’m overwhelmed. Thank you all for coming.”
Regional Manager Mike Stevens said that recognizing someone for 50 years of service has never happened in his career.
Another Regional Manager, Tony Williams, who was also on hand for the recognition, presented Donny with a personally signed letter from the Post Master General, thanking him for his years of service, a diamond pin and a gold watch with an inscription of 50 years of service.
“Each and everyone of your customers appreciates your hard work,” Williams said. “I wish we had a few more like you.”
Williams went on to include a few facts from 1962, the year Donny began his postal career. JFK was president, the cost of stamps was four cents, the national debt was $309 billion, an average house cost $12,000 and an average car cost $1,500.
After the regional managers had finished with their presentation they asked Donny to say a few words. Still overcome with surprise, Donny’s wife, Laurie, stepped in.
“He’s been a real faithful worker and we’ve always been proud of him,” she said to the crowd gathered. “He has a very good work ethic that makes us proud.”
Donny began his career with the postal service as a substitute postal worker, a title that remained for nearly 20 years. By that time a full-time position had opened up to carry mail for rural route three.
Eventually rural route one became available and that’s the route Donny has been delivering mail to ever since.
Before becoming a postal worker, Donny was in the service. It was very common, Laurie explained, for the men coming out of the service to work for the post office.
Another common belief is that postal workers fear and dislike the dogs that they encounter. Laurie recalled that the dogs on Donny’s route were one thing that he was especially fond of. He was known to carry treats in his car and leave them with well-behaving dogs.
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Aside from his canine friends, Donny’s love of nature also kept his job interesting, Laurie said. She mentioned that sometimes he would have her come along on the route to enjoy a sunrise with him or see the leaves changing in the fall.
While Donny’s love of dogs and nature has never changed, over the course of 50 years many other things have changed. According to Laurie, the most difficult change for Donny was getting a cell phone to carry while on his route.
“Years ago people used to be home so if you got stuck or were in trouble you could walk to the nearest farm site and ask for help,” Laurie explained. “Now people are rarely home during the time the mail is delivered.”
Laurie added that he has three numbers in his cell phone–hers, the post office and West Side Garage.
Donny has been a hard-working, loyal, familiar face on rural route one for many years but Laurie said most who meet Donny see him as having a rough exterior. However, his wife said on the inside he really is a marshmallow.
“I always call him my diamond in the rough,” she added.
The remainder of the celebration included congratulations from friends, family and co-workers and reminiscing with other retired postal carries over coffee and donuts.
A celebration of this magnitude usually includes a retirement, but that isn’t in the near future for Donny. He said he doesn’t have plans to retire just because he reached a milestone in his career, adding that he plans to continue to faithfully deliver the mail to his loyal route one customers.