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Published: Wednesday, 7/27/2005

Metamora: Residents reluctant to let 20-year postmaster retire

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sharon Smith has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years. Metamora residents are reluctant to see her retire from the office where she has been postmaster since 1985. Sharon Smith has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years. Metamora residents are reluctant to see her retire from the office where she has been postmaster since 1985.
WADSWORTH / BLADE Enlarge

After more than 30 years on the job, Sharon Smith is ready to sell her last stamp and ship her last package.

But Metamora residents are reluctant to let her leave.

On a recent morning in the tiny post office, several customers tried to talk Postmaster Smith out of her retirement plans.

"All will miss her. She's well-liked and loved. She knows all the families, all their children, the grandchildren. She knows everything that goes on. That's why we come in here to see her," said Kathy Sharples, who stopped by to show off her 6-month-old granddaughter Shelby Grace Vandenbusche.

Ms. Smith, who has been with the U.S. Postal Service since 1974, says she will miss "all the great people," but she's looking forward to retirement.

Postmaster here since 1985, she walks to work every day, rain, shine, snow, or sleet. She began her postal service career in nearby Lyons. She was working at the Wauseon post office when she was diagnosed with leukemia in 1984. She spent five months in treatment before returning to work. Shortly after, she left Wauseon to become the Metamora postmaster.

The grass isn't always greener in other communities, but typically the post offices are larger.

"I thought I wanted a bigger office," she said about her stints as officer-in-charge in Montpelier for six months, Delta for four months, and Waterville for six months. "After a lesson in finding out how good I had it in Metamora, I came back and have been here since," she said.

'Here' is a place where youngsters gather on cold winter mornings to play checkers while waiting for the bus; a place where customers, who come to mail packages and cards to loved ones, take a moment or two to share stories about births and deaths, weddings and anniversaries, illnesses and accidents.

With obvious concern, customers ask Ms. Smith about her grandson who was injured recently, and with obvious delight, they talk about a baby boy born hours earlier - in his family's car in the middleof the night during a rainstorm.

"I've lived here almost 50 years, and that's how it is here. We're family," said Irene Warniment. "It's nice to have people know you. If there's any trouble, someone's here to help."

The oldest of the 301 post office boxes dates back to the early 1900s, Ms. Smith said. There are 439 customers on a rural route.

There has been some talk through the years about the possibility of a new post office.

Some people have said they would favor a new facility, but not if it meant moving the post office out of the downtown. The location is "real important for a lot of the elderly people and is real convenient for the business people," said Joe Woodring, a local barber.

But it's retirement plans, not building plans, that has people talking now. Ms. Smith, 60, plans to spend time with her family, travel, and make "fun stuff" on her newly purchased sewing machine.

"I've never had a life. I've worked. I've raised four children. I want to do things before I get too old to enjoy it."



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