Tuesday was her last day on the job, which began in 1984 when she started working as a substitute postal carrier, filling in a few hours every other week. Originally, her husband David applied for the position, but then-postmaster Mary Lang suggested that Libby consider applying instead since the minimal hours would make it difficult to provide for their family.
In 1994 she transitioned from driving to working as a clerk. When she started, clerks sorted every piece of mail that came through the office. That was quite time-consuming, Whitney said.
Times have changed. Clerks used to work a split shift, coming in to sort the mail in the morning, and then returning at the end of the day to get the mail ready to send out.
Now, the process is automated. Trays of mail arrive presorted, and all mail in the office gets trucked to Portland at the end of the day. Now, one person can do the afternoon process.
In the late 1990s, Whitney spent a couple years as postmaster in Skamokawa. She fondly recalls bringing her bike to work in order to spend her lunch hour riding on the deer refuge and to Vista Park. However, being postmaster is a full time job, Whitney said, and she preferred to work part time. When a clerk position came open in Cathlamet, she transferred back.
One favorite moment Whitney recounted from her time on the job was Saint James Family Center Preschool’s annual field trip to the post office. The preschoolers tour the office and mail valentines to their families.
“And then you see the kids grow up, and you see those kids’ own children come to mail their valentines,” she reflected.
Sometimes unusual items come through the office. Every spring, people order chicks and ducklings through the mail. Early morning customers are treated to the sound of soft peeping before the chicks are delivered.
It’s always been a good crew to work with at the Cathlamet post office, Whitney said, and that’s made the job enjoyable.
With her increased leisure time, Whitney plans to spend more time with family, visit friends, and to continue gardening, sewing, playing the piano, walking and volunteering as a mentor to youth.
The public is invited to wish Whitney a happy retirement with refreshments from 11-1 in the Cathlamet post office lobby on Friday.