Good service

Smiling postal worker holds mail tray

Willie Clemmons is celebrating a milestone few others have achieved.

Last month, the 91-year-old Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center mail handler marked 68 years as a postal employee.

“I wanted to work at the Postal Service because I wanted to be of service to the people,” he said.

Clemmons, who served in the Army during World War II, was hired at the Los Angeles Terminal Annex Post Office in 1951, not long after he was married. He stayed in that job for two years, then moved to the Processing and Distribution Center’s “bad order” section, where he’s been ever since.

Mail handlers in this section help route letters, flats and other mail that has been damaged or incorrectly addressed.

“I like the bad order section because I felt that I was doing a service to the people of the neighborhood, the nation and all over,” Clemmons said.

He has seen plenty of changes throughout his career, including the introduction of ZIP Codes in 1963 and the Post Office Department’s transition to USPS in 1971.

The biggest change: postal salaries. When Clemmons was hired, he remembers being paid $1.50 an hour — and there was no overtime.

“If we did work seven days, we were paid straight-time only,” he said.

USPS recently honored Clemmons at a career conference in Los Angeles, where he was presented with a pin for his service and received tributes from Chief Human Resources Officer Jeff Williamson and others.

“It is an extreme pleasure working with this hard-working and very humble man,” said Gretchen Alspach, the Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center lead senior manager of distribution operation. “Mr. Clemmons’ work ethic is an inspiration to newer employees who look to him as a mentor. I’m extremely proud to have him on the team.”

When he’s not at work, the soft-spoken Clemmons stays fit by mowing his lawn and taking care of his house. He also enjoys spending time with his family: He and his wife have three daughters, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Clemmons is also thinking about retiring this year or next.

“But I’ve said this before,” he said with a laugh.