DALLAS — Stamps were 10 cents when Dennis Brown began working at the Dallas Post Office.
It was 1975, and the newly married Brown was just beginning at a nearly 44-year career that he hadn’t planned on.
His father worked for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring as the postmaster in Independence, and Brown’s brother worked for the postal service, serving as postmaster in Portland and Gervais.
“Actually, I didn’t plan on following in that vein. My wife and I were married in June, I had an appointment to go to school in Eugene,” Brown said last week.
Brown was working, temporarily he thought, in a Salem post office when he was offered a position in the Dallas office. He planned to become an architect.
He was asked if he would rather go to work than finish school. Brown talked to his wife, Marci, about it and made his decision.
“I thought to myself, yeah,” Brown said. “I came here to work instead of going to school. I’ve not regretted it one bit. These, I always say 44 years though it’s not quite, have flown by.”
Brown occasionally carried a route, and served as the interim postmaster at the Willamina office, but he spent most of his career at the service counter helping people mail their letters and packages.
He will retire Friday his position as a lead clerk, to the dismay of more than a few of his customers.
“They all know him,” said Dallas Postmaster Debbie Martin. “They specifically come in sometimes and ask for him by name, they don’t want anybody else to help them.”
Brown, 65, said he won’t miss getting up around 3 a.m. for his early shift one bit — but his customers and coworkers, that’s different.
“That is the part I’m going miss the most. The people, the friendships I’ve made over this counter line are … I have a feeling on my last day, I’m going to be a basket case when it comes to that,” Brown said. “Plus, the friendships you make with the people you’ve worked with. They become like family after a while.”
Martin said it won’t be his smiling face and decades of experience the office will have to replace, but his ability to train others to do what he does so well. Brown is a regional on-the-job trainer.
“That’s really going to be a huge loss. In fact, over the last month, he’s trained two new people,” she said. “He’s the closest one around. I have two new people coming on and don’t know where I’m going to send them to get trained. They’ve been sending them all to him. He’s a great trainer.”
Brown said he’s trained 25 to 30 other clerks during his career.
“They come to this office to train as a clerk on the window,” Brown said. “There’s not that many on-the-job instructors around. It’s fun to meet all these different people and train them.”
Brown said he welcomes the idea of spontaneous trips to the beach and more time with his grandchildren.
“I’m looking forward to no alarm clock,” he said, laughing.
Martin said Brown’s replacement is in training, but it is still going to be a transition for the office.
“There’s so much to know,” she said. “We are just going to have to call for some help on the things that do come up. He does all the financial stuff on the window, making sure we have all the credit receipts. Everything financial, he does all of that.
“But it’s time. He wants to go enjoy time with his grandkids and his family. He’s going to be missed by everybody, us and his customers.”