Lisbon postmaster seals lifelong employment
August 03, 2012 · Meghan Hunter
Lisbon postmaster Diane McAfee put a stamp on her 33 year postal service career last Tuesday.
After serving the Lisbon community since 1991, becoming a grandmother, having time to care for her father, and catching up on housework are on her radar. At the same time, it has been tough letting go of her position.
"I'm looking forward to retiring, but I'm going to miss the people, so I have mixed feelings," McAfee said.
To continue being a familiar face around town, McAfee plans to stay involved in Lisbon affairs. "I'll be in charge of the Exhibit Hall at Sauerkraut Days and will do other volunteering," McAfee said. "I won't be a stranger to Lisbon."
McAfee's retirement plans synced up conveniently with Voluntary Early Retirement (VER), an incentive program offered by the Postal Service for dedicated employees.
"I was going to go anyway since I was eligible to retire through other channels on my birthday in November," McAfee said.
McAfee's loyalty to the Postal Service is clear given her lifelong dedication. Shortly after graduating from Iowa State University with a degree in wildlife biology and fisheries in 1978, Wisconsin native McAfee stumbled upon a mail carrier position in Cedar Rapids.
"I started as a city carrier and it was harder back then because you had a different route every day and I wasn't from Cedar Rapids, so I didn't know where I was going," McAfee said.
In her nine years at the Cedar Rapids Postal Service, she also performed other jobs including account representative, officer in charge and phone operator.
"The neatest thing about (phone operation) was that you answered ZIP Code calls and at Christmas time, you'd do 500 to 600 a day," McAfee recalled.
Following her nine-year stint in Cedar Rapids, McAfee moved on to Ainsworth, becoming the town's officer in charge. Continuing the momentum, McAfee became Delhi's postmaster in 1990. From there, she spotted the postmaster position in Lisbon and couldn't turn down the opportunity. By the end of 1991, she was settled into her position and knew she had made the right decision.
"The size of Lisbon is just perfect since you have enough traffic so that you're busy during the day, and you have enough paperwork because there are enough deliveries," McAfee said.
By that time, McAfee was already in love with the specifics of her position.
"I get to do math, work on the computer, so I'm not stuck doing one thing for eight hours," McAfee said.
However, the social aspect of her work has left the most significant impression on McAfee.
"I'm like a bartender without the booze," joked McAfee. "I listen to people and get attached."
Keeping up with local addresses for the last 20 years, McAfee feels like a walking directory. Since rural carrier Lee Kruse will also step down next month, McAfee sees the situation as "losing two-thirds of the knowledge base."
Nevertheless, McAfee senses that the Lisbon Post Office will be left in good hands. With 25 years under her belt, Mount Vernon Post Office clerk Kelley Wells should transition smoothly into McAfee's spot until another postmaster is named.
As the officer in charge, "Kelley will take good care of the post office," McAfee said.
Wells moved to Lisbon last year with her Marion rural carrier husband, Jerry. They have two sons in college.
Concerning the security of the postal industry as a whole, McAfee is also hopeful. Specifically, McAfee feels that some regulations drain the industry's money, making it hard for profits to be made. Otherwise, "Money-wise, (the postal service) is keeping up," McAfee said.
With little worry clouding her mind, McAfee will leave her beloved post office desk which she calls "her spot" and branch off onto a new path - one lined with volunteering, pursuing hobbies and family.
Alongside her husband Brent, she has three children, two stepsons, and can't wait to be the "free babysitter" for her only daughter.
"I've been very happy in this job, especially as a postmaster since you become very attached to your community and they're your family," McAfee said.