FARMINGTON — Mail carrier Rose Richards will retire Friday, Aug. 31, after 32.5 years. The post office will be holding a party for her at 7:30 a.m. to which the public is invited.
Wednesday afternoon Richards was caught in a torrential downpour and returned to the post office drenched.
“I walked through water up to here,” she said while showing how deep the water was with her hands. “Going through the thunder and lightning, just getting to the next place. It was fierce.”
Postmistress Sue Jones said, “Rose exemplifies the postal carrier’s mission of being there in rain, snow and dark of night. As hot as it’s been, she’s out there. We’re going to miss her very much.”
Richards served as a substitute rural carrier for a year before becoming a city carrier. Considered part time, she had three different routes for seven years. She has had her current route since 1993.
Richards covers the downtown route, which goes out towards the university and to the top of Perham Street. She does a truck route for packages, then repeats it again on foot. She estimates the trip to be six miles.
Jones said Richards has walked 36,000 miles. That’s the distance from Portland, Maine, to San Francisco six times.
“I’ve walked the equivalent of one and a half times around the world,” Richards said.
She goes through at least a pair of shoes a year. She wears boots for four or five months.
“Rose takes care of the UMF students, often tracking them down if they have moved. I hope she instilled that in the other carriers. Hers are going to be tough shoes to fill,” Jones said.
“Richards’ is the most familiar face in the carrying world. Everyone knows her,” Jones said. “Her last day I will accompany her. There will be a lot of well wishers.”
“I’m ready to let someone else have their turn,” Richards said.
Richards said she carries a granola bar with her to eat daily on her break.
Jones said Richards eats something with sugar in it every lunch.
“It keeps her going,” Jones said. “She’s never called in sick.”
Richards is a representative to the National Association of Letter Carriers and co-chairs the post office’s recreation committee. This year was the 26th year she volunteered for the mail carrier food drive.
Carriers Scott Daggett, Victor Bustemante and new hire Andrea Savello will take over the downtown route after Richards retires.
She plans to volunteer at Smart Fun Learning Adventures, a private school, on the Fairbanks Road in Farmington two days a week. Her daughter, Sheena Thomas, is the school’s director and head teacher.
“Someday I may do something else,” Richards said.
Richards lives in Jay with her husband of 40 years. She has two children.