Sterling Harris was on the job last fall when an unusual address caught his eye.
The envelope was made out to Mrs. Brent Taylor at “Home of an American War Hero” in North Ogden, a small city in Utah.
As soon as he saw the address, Harris, a distribution clerk at Ben Lomond Station, knew the mailpiece was meant for the family of Taylor, North Ogden’s mayor and a major in the Utah National Guard who had recently been killed while on duty in Afghanistan.
“I recognized the name and wanted to get it to the correct address, like I would for any other customer,” Harris said.
He handed the envelope to Letter Carrier Scott Putnam, who delivered it to the Taylor residence — a simple gesture that sparked praise throughout the community.
First, Jennie Taylor, Brent’s widow, tweeted an image of the envelope and this message: “A shoutout to my #uspsmailman. Thanks for helping this card find its way to our mailbox. #coolnewaddress.”
Next, Robert Gerhke, a columnist for the Salt Lake City Tribune, saw the tweet and published a tribute to USPS and everyone who wrote to Jennie to offer their condolences.
“Harris gave this small gesture as a service, not expecting anything in return, but simply a selfless act to help people he probably will never know,” Gehrke wrote. “It’s a small example of how we can all draw inspiration from Brent Taylor’s life. …”
Harris has since redirected several similarly addressed letters to the Taylor family.
“I knew what the situation was and wanted to make sure these pieces got to the grieving family,” he said. “Seeing the tweet and knowing how it made this family feel made me feel good to have helped in some small way with the healing process.”
During a recent stand-up talk, Postmaster Ryan Burnett recognized Harris, Putnam and City Carrier Assistant Eric Brown, who also delivered condolence letters to the Taylors.
“It doesn’t surprise me that they have been getting this mail delivered to the correct address,” Burnett said, adding that the deliveries show “how the great employees of Ogden truly care about our customers.”