Gunnison mail carrier puts down his bag

Wayne Smith retires after 34 years with U.S. Postal Service

Katy Murtaugh

Special to the Times


Neither snow, rain, sleet nor heat keeps these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Wayne Smith completed his final one as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Gunnison last Thursday, Sept. 28.

When Smith was 22 years old and married with a child, he was delivering pizzas in Colorado Springs. He decided he needed a better job to support the family. So he applied at the U.S. Postal Service.

Since Smith had served in the military he received a veteran’s preference status for the test. They offered him a clerk job, but he turned it down. After waiting a year and half he accepted a mail carrier position in January 1984. Smith worked 17 years in Colorado Springs and then transferred here to Gunnison.

Being in one of the most secure jobs in the country was one of the reasons why Smith continued to work for the U.S. Postal Service for so long.

“It’s not gonna make you rich but you’re not going to go hungry either,” he explained.

This job gave him an opportunity to be outside, which he enjoys, and he was able navigate his way around pretty easily. He remarked, “Once you left the office it’s like owning your own business and you don’t have someone looking over your shoulder.”

Smith has delivered on all the routes here in Gunnison, as there are only five of them. His regular route was the “City 2.”  

Once, while out on his route Smith played a role in perhaps saving someone’s life.

A citizen named Mr. Birch was known for picking up his mail everyday. Except one day he didn’t. When Smith dropped off his mail, Mr. Birch’s dog was barking incessantly. Smith walked up to knock on the door, but no one answered.

Back at the office, Smith told Postmaster Neil Kovach they should call authorities to do a wellness check on Mr. Birch. They did, and back on his route Smith observed an ambulance picking up Mr. Birch.

These types of situations are commonplace as carriers develop relationships with the people as they see people on a daily basis.

Throughout the years, Smith has seen some changes within the U.S. Postal Service. For example, in the mid ‘90s the mail started to be automated, which he says makes his job a little more difficult. In addition, the mail carriers are on GPS while on their routes.

The volume of parcels has doubled and tripled in the past few years from what they have seen in the past.

After just shy of 34 years of being a mail carrier, Smith has decided to retire. He said he’ll miss the contact with the customers and businesses on a daily basis.

He’s not sure exactly what he will do in retirement, but he’ll likely keep himself busy with hiking, fishing, hunting or doing things around the house.

Overall, Smith remarked, “It was a good job for me.”


Gunnison Country Times

218 N. Wisconsin Street
Gunnison, CO 81230
Phone: 970-641-1414