Customers at the Fort Dodge post office will no longer be helped by Deb Schuh or be offered a treat from the small candy dish on the counter at Marian Anderson's work space.
The veteran window clerks are among five United States Postal Service employees in Fort Dodge who retired at the end of their shifts Thursday.
The other retirees are Cindy Schadegg, a window clerk who is Schuh's sister; Paul Hanson, who maintained the local post office's vehicle fleet; and Dave Baker, a dock expediter and truck dispatcher.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Postal worker Randy Johnson, right, fires up the camera Thursday to snap a picture of retiring clerks Marian Anderson, left, Deb Schuh and Cindy Schadegg in the lobby of the Fort Dodge Post Office.
Collectively, they had 171 years of Postal Service experience.
Hanson, who started on the job in December 1973, had about 40 years of experience.
Schadegg, who was hired in January 1977, had about 36 years of experience.
Her sister, who was hired in 1979, worked for the Postal Service for about 34 years.
Anderson, hired in 1981, logged 31 years of service.
Baker had 30 years of experience.
Schuh worked at the front counter for 20 years, and at the time of her retirement, was the longest serving window clerk at the Fort Dodge post office. During that time, she met lots and lots of people.
''She knows everybody,'' said Schadegg. ''It's awful to go shopping with her because she stops and talks to everybody because she knows everybody in town.''
Schuh said the regular post office customers became ''almost like family.''
''Of course, the people you work with are definitely family,'' she said.
Schuh was helping a customer one day in 2004 when a spontaneous act of kindness toward the family of a soldier deployed overseas led to an initiative that helped pay for sending packages to troops.
On Nov. 3, 2004, Jessica Newman, of Sac City, was in the Fort Dodge post office to mail a package to her husband, Mark Newman, who was in Iraq with the 471st Adjutant General Co., an Army Reserve unit based in Fort Dodge. Upon overhearing that the package was heading to Iraq, a man stepped from his place in line and paid the postage for Newman.
Schuh said that was the only time she saw something like that happen.
Katie Averill, a Fort Dodge woman who was in the post office when that occurred, was inspired to create Stamp of Support, which collected donations to help pay for shipping things to deployed soldiers
''That was awesome that she came up with that,'' Schuh said. ''It was just unique for Fort Dodge.''
She began her career as a mail distribution clerk and worked the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift for awhile.
Anderson passed the civil service exam for the Postal Service, then waited three years to get hired. She also started as a mail distribution clerk before becoming a window clerk.
''Right from the start I put out a candy dish,'' she said.
She also kept a supply of pencils, finger puppets and small toys in a drawer so that she could give them to children who came into the post office.
''I've got a good job and I don't mind sharing,'' Anderson said.
''My favorite thing is the customers,'' she said. ''I've made a lot of friends just with the postal customers.''
Anderson said the window clerks - sales service associates is their formal title - also serve as passport acceptance agents. She said when someone applies for a passport, they check all their documentation and take their photograph. They handle 75 to 100 passport applications a month, she said.
Schadegg started as a mail distribution clerk, a post she held for 14 years. She then worked as a timekeeper, keeping track of the time cards for the employees. Machine operator and registered mail clerk were two of her other positions before becoming a window clerk last year.
''I would never get along without Marian,'' she said. ''Marian knows how to do everything.''
Schadegg and Schuh never worked the same shifts at the post office.
The sisters aren't the first members of their family to work for the Postal Service. Their father, Donald Schadegg, was a window clerk at a post office in California.
Baker started working for the Postal Service in 1982. His first job was as a mail handler unloading trucks.
He said he enjoyed the camaraderie with his co-workers.
''We all pretty much had the philosophy that we wanted to get the mail through as quickly as possible,'' he said.
''We laughed a lot down there,'' he said during a phone interview Thursday afternoon.
The Postal Service is also a family affair for Baker. His father, Gene Baker, worked for the post office and his wife, Molly, is still a postal employee.
Hanson, who was not at the post office Thursday, couldn't be reached for comment.