Make sure you give a nice big wave and a “thank you” to Leon Kral when you see him on his mail route the next couple days.

Make sure you give a nice big wave and a “thank you” to Leon Kral when you see him on his mail route the next couple days — Tuesday will be your last chance. Yes, after 37 years with the U.S. Postal Service, Kral is off to the next part of his life.

“When I was a young guy starting to work at the post office, Spud Dietz, who was a clerk, gave me some good advice,” said Kral, “He told me to save as much money as I could, because, he said, ‘you are going to want to retire early.’ I took his advice and have had early retirement in mind during my years with the post office.”

Kral started as a part-time rural carrier in 1983. “Everyone started as part-time,” he explained. “But the work added up to 40 hours anyway and you got benefits from the start.”

During those early years, Kral also went to school and worked in Faribault. Then there was a retirement at the Sleepy Eye Post Office and he was offered the position. “I had to decide which way to go and I had been thinking I’d like to be closer to home,” he said. “So I took the post office job and have been here ever since.”

Retirement from one career doesn’t mean retirement from working for Kral. “I had the goal of retiring while I was young enough to do something else,” he said. “I plan to work part-time and move on to the next thing in life.”

Before he gets entangled in another career, Kral plans on some free time this fall to enjoy favorite activities, such as hunting and fishing. Plus he will have more time to work on the farm with his brother Dale — something he always did, but will now have even more time for.

Kral said the favorite part of his job with the post office has been meeting so many people, which he said was the most rewarding part of the job. “I will miss all the great people I have worked with, and also the customers.”

Something Kral won’t miss is walking on ice in the winter — nine miles a day.

Postmaster Chad Hoffmann said, “We’re going to miss Leon, he has many years of knowledge and experience we rely on. But we also congratulate him on his retirement!”

“I will miss working for the post office,” said Kral. “It’s been my whole life and a wonderful place to work.”

Leon and his wife Renee have three adult children — Nathan, who works as the Assistant Director at the Greene County Community Center in Jefferson, Iowa; Brandon, a mechanic at Chuck Spaeth Ford; and Melissa, a student at SDSU. They are also looking forward to welcoming their first grandchild soon — which will mean more traveling to Iowa.