Mineville When Jack Armstrong woke up Aug. 1, he had one thought.
“I’m going to do what I want to do,” he said, “not what I have to do.”
Aug. 1 marked the first day of retirement for Armstrong after more than 35 years with the U.S. Postal Service, the last 26 as postmaster in Mineville and Witherbee.
“I’ll miss the customers and my co-workers,” Armstrong said of retirement. “They’ve made the last 35 years seem like three; they’ve been great.
“But I’m looking forward to taking it easy,” he added. “I’m going to take some time and figure out exactly what I want to do. I know I want to get back into golfing. I used to play four or five times a week, but since I became postmaster I really haven’t been able to play. I’ve decided I’m buying new irons.”
Being postmaster has been a consuming job.
“Since becoming postmaster I’ve probably worked 16 years of Saturdays,” Armstrong said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a long weekend.”
But he’s not complaining.
“The postal service has provided well for my family and I feel fortunate to have had this job,” Armstrong said. “It (the Mineville-Witherbee post office) is less than a mile from my house. Not many people (in the postal service) have been able to stay in their hometown.
“To be in the same community where my mother and father taught a combined 78 years is special,” he said.
Armstrong almost became a teacher, like his parents. He earned a degree in elementary education from SUNY-Plattsburgh in 1975. Unable to find a full-time teaching job, he was a substitute teacher and did odd jobs before joining the postal service April 9, 1977.
He became the Mineville postmaster in March 1986. When the Mineville post office closed because of structural issues, he moved to the Witherbee post office. In 1996 a new post office was constructed to serve both Mineville and Witherbee.