Longtime Kirkland mail carrier retires, neighbors celebrate his 36 years | SLIDESHOW
By RAECHEL DAWSON
Kirkland Reporter Reporter
March 12, 2013 · Updated 10:53 AM
On any regular day, children and dogs can be seen waiting for Steve Conover to pull up in his mail truck. He hands out lollipops and dog treats amidst letters, coupons and bills.
But on Friday, March 8, Conover pulled up to a crowd of around 20 children and adults and a star-adorned banner that read “Finish line” over a mailbox hut. Cupcakes were handed out, hands were shaken and hugs were given. It was Conover’s last day.
“We’ve lived in this neighborhood for 20 years, he’s the only (mail carrier) we’ve known,” said Kirkland resident Aly Barger, who lives in the Juanita neighborhood. “Seeing him in his mail truck was better than seeing the ice cream man on a hot summer day (minus the bills he delivered, ha!) … He always had a smile on his face.”
Conover began working as a mail carrier for the Kirkland Post Office on April 8, 1977, 36 years ago. As a born-and-raised Kirklander, he and his wife Wendy have continued to live in Kirkland for their entire lives.
Originally, Conover wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a police officer with the Kirkland Police Department, but after “things just weren’t happening,” he decided to apply for a position with the U.S. Postal Service after his mother called his attention to the civil service exams.
“When I first got hired at the post office, we had another carrier down there. He was up in years and he had the same route for the majority of his career. I thought how great that was,” Conover said. “My goal was to get a route and keep that route my entire career. I wanted people to know me versus some anonymous mailman.”
Conover spent the last 32 years of his 36 year mail carrier career doing just that.
“We consider ourselves to be very lucky to have had Steve as our postman for the last 32 years,” said Kirkland resident Nona Ganz. “Constantly upbeat, friendly and accommodating, he will be sorely missed. Whenever I see a Kirkland mail truck, I look to see if Steve is behind the wheel. I will probably always think of him when I see the U.S. Postal Service.”
Aisha Houghton, a Kirkland resident, recalls one Christmas when her 4-year-old daughter put a letter in the mailbox for Santa Claus. To her surprise, there was a reply back saying he was sorry he didn’t reply back sooner.
The letter wasn’t postmarked, but Houghton is almost certain it was Conover.
“She could not have been more thrilled,” Houghton said. “It was so sweet.”
The Bargers say their three boys always flock to him in hopes of picking out a lollipop and their dog has even followed him down the road for a few blocks.
Conover said he does the gesture because he’s “got to keep everybody happy.”
“It’s fun. I enjoy when the kids come out and say ‘hi,’” said Conover, who provides the treats at his own expense. “I’ve seen people come and go, kids have kids and they come back. It’s really a great feeling. You feel like you’re a part of … you get that small-town feel, which you don’t get anymore.”
Upon retiring from the postal service, Conover has already started a new line of work: Driving school buses. The opportunity arose when his wife, who works for the Lake Washington School District, noticed the bus drivers were under-staffed and in need of help.
Conover and his wife are looking forward to sharing the same work schedule, which may lead to more time with family.
“As a family, we didn’t get a lot of vacationing,” said Conover, who lives in the Norkirk neighborhood. “I got very involved in coaching and because everything happens on Saturdays, I would use all my vacation time to coach.”
With his new job, he is excited he will get to interact with children and do something new after so long but he can’t deny he will miss a career that was so deeply ingrained in the community.
“That interaction that I got with the postal customers is what I’ll miss the most," he said. “It’s what made my job special. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of the community and the Postal Service. It’s something that I’m proud of.”
Contact Kirkland Reporter Reporter Raechel Dawson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 X5052.