When Kathy Woelk began her career at the Hillsboro Post Office, stamps were 22 cents. Clerks figured parcel postage with a pen and paper and looked up ZIP Codes in a physical directory. They used a manual scale to calculate what to charge for shipping.
That was March of 1985. Woelk is set to retire at the end of this month after 37 years of public service, all in Hillsboro. Patrons are invited to stop by from 9 to 11 a.m. on May 26 to wish her well in her retirement.
Things will be different at the office after she leaves, but Woelk said changes happen regularly with the postal system. For reference, a postage stamp now costs 58 cents, and that same stamp can be used “forever,” even if the price goes up in the future.
“I have worked with four postmasters in two different buildings,” she said. “When I started, incoming mail was sorted by the clerks, then given to the carriers. Now, most of the letters are presorted in Delivery Point Sequence for the carriers. Magazines and newspapers are sorted directly to the carriers, and only a few letters and flats are sorted by hand. Parcel volume has increased, with most parcels having a barcode for us to scan for tracking purposes.”
Woelk said she has enjoyed greeting customers from behind the counter.
“I enjoy talking to people,” she said. “I will miss seeing the regulars.”
Becky Tibbetts, Woelk’s current boss, echoed those sentiments.
“She will be greatly missed,” Tibbetts said. “Kathy’s biggest strength is that she cares about the customers and will go above and beyond. She will track down the addresses for pieces of mail or packages that have gone astray and will try her best to get them to the customers.
“Being in the community for so long, she will find that connection to the customer,
even if she has to talk to someone at the bank, or a cousin, or a neighbor,” Tibbetts
said. “She checks on her customers to see if they are doing okay if she hasn’t seen them in a while. When something is going on in their lives, she wants to keep in touch. That’s just Kathy.”
Tibbetts also praised Woelk’s dedication to the postal service.
“Kathy has had a strong commitment to the post office and has had a great work ethic,” Tibbetts said. “She is considerate toward her fellow employees.”
So, how does Woelk plan to spend her retirement years?
“I like to spoil the grandkids,” she said. “I plan to do some traveling with my husband. We like to camp, and I enjoy taking photos and posting them on social media. Maybe I will get a chance to do some of the things I have put aside for 37 years.”