Luck often seems to be on Joseph Clark’s side.
Surrounded by friends and family, the mail expeditor celebrated 67 years of federal service — including two years with the Navy and 65 years as a postal worker — during a recent ceremony at the Columbus, OH, Processing and Distribution Center.
Clark, who joined the Post Office Department in 1955 and quickly proclaimed that he’d be a postal employee for the next 50 years, said he was lucky to get the job.
“When I got out of the Navy, I applied for a job at the State House and a surplus war vehicle depot for a government agency and the Post Office. All three of the jobs became available within seven days. I could have picked any one of them,” he said.
Clark initially had his heart set on the depot job because it meant his evenings and weekends would be free.
“But friends said, ‘Take the Post Office job.’ It turned out to be a good thing because the depot [would regularly] lay off a lot of people,” he said.
Beginning a postal career was one of several unusually lucky breaks in Clark’s life.
For instance, a teacher encouraged Clark to join the Navy Reserve when he was in high school.
“I was kind of lucky because some of the other guys in our group who joined the Army went to Korea,” he said. Some didn’t return home.
“All of us who joined the Navy, all came back from the war,” Clark said. He had hoped to travel the world but was stateside during the conflict.
Clark started his postal career as an outgoing mail clerk, then switched to incoming mail.
During his career, Clark has held several different positions. Through it all, he witnessed the organization evolve.
“They didn’t have all of this high-tech machinery. It was all manual labor. The most high-tech thing they had back then was a conveyor belt,” he said with a laugh. “We had mail on one side of the belt and hampers on the other side. As the belt was moving, you’d dump mail into the right hamper.”
Looking back, Clark, who received a fancy leather jacket when he celebrated his 50th postal anniversary that he still wears now and then, feels satisfied with his postal career.
“When I came here, I was just looking for a job. But to me, this job is always interesting,” he said.
Michaela Thompson, acting distribution operations supervisor at the Columbus Processing and Distribution Center, said is Clark highly valued at the facility.
“Mr. Clark is an excellent employee. He is old school when it comes to his work ethics — hardworking, shows up every day ready to go. He is a true asset to the United States Postal Service. I’m glad he is part of my team,” she said.
And as for Clark surpassing his youthful prediction that he’d be a Postal Service employee for 50 years, that might have something to do with his father.
“My father worked for 52 years,” Clark said. “He did one job for 42 years and then another job for 10 years. Watching him influenced me.”
Share your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.