SIDNEY — City of Sidney mail carrier Dave Stahl is ready to switch up his daily walk through neighborhoods for regular walks across the golf course. After 33 years with the United States Postal Service, Stahl delivers his last piece of mail Friday, May 29.
“It’s not really going to hit me until the last day. And yes, I am kind of counting down the days,” Stahl said of retirement with a chuckle the week before his last day.
The Celina resident began his career in 1987 at the Coldwater Post Office as a mail clerk. In 1994 he transferred to the Wapakoneta Post Office to work on the carrier side of the business. He then left the Wapakoneta Post Office in 1997 to come to Sidney where he will retire Friday.
“I first started as a clerk. I worked inside all day long, and (after seven years) I was just ready to get back outside. And I had an opportunity to transfer to the carrier side, and I did. So, I’ve been a carrier every since,” Stahl said.
As a young man, he worked for his dad at the St. Henry Tile Company driving a ready-mix concrete truck for nine years. Then in 1985 he and his brother decided to switch career paths and opened and ran a family restaurant called Stahly’s Restaurant & Bar up until 1991.
“That’s what they always called me in high school (in St. Henry) was Stahly,” he said. “Then three years later we had our second child, a little girl, and it got to be too much, so my wife said ‘OK, something has to change here.’ I was never home because I was always working. And I really loved the restaurant business, but I took the job that paid more and had insurance and everything.”
“I’ve always loved working with people, customers and everything. Friday and Saturday night at the restaurant was like going out. I did miss the restaurant business, but I was never home,” Stahl continued. “And the post office has been good to me.”
A lot has changed over the years at the post office, Stahl said. When he first started out, he worked 60-65 hours a week, and the clerks sorted the mail by hand. Eventually his overtime was reduced and in came automation, which pre-sorts letters and made the job “a lot easier,” he admits.
“It’s so much different from when I started. I used to train people when they came in for 40 hours all week. Now they only get trained for two or three days and they are out the door. It’s a lot of work and so many people say, ‘It’s too hard. I cant do this.’ Because there is a lot to do. It’s hard on the body. A lot of heavy lifting. It takes a toll,” Stahl said. “And there are a lot more packages.”
They are busier than ever at the post office, he said, from online orders being delivered and then the sales catalogues that follow. Before automation, most routes had included delivery to about 400 customers, and now most routes have 700-800 customers. Stahl said since stimulus checks came through he has barely been able to fit all of his route’s packages in his mail vehicle.
Now with summer finally here, aside from the golf course, he is also ready to enjoy more time on the lake on he and wife Patti’s pontoon. The Stahls live on the south side of Grand Lake St. Marys in the small village of Montezuma.
They also look forward to traveling and visiting their two daughters whose husbands are stationed on military bases in Alabama and Maryland. He plans to get things done around the house and yard, and finally being able to visit Sidney’s The Great Farmer’s Market now that he will be off on Saturdays. But he still plans to work part time helping get vehicles purchased at auto auctions back to Celina.
“I’m not going to fully retire. I’m not going to just sit around. I’m going to help get cars back from auctions,” Stahl said.
“He’s an old fashioned guy who believes in great customer service and of course the golden rule. He will be missed by his customers and other people he encounters daily. Dave takes pride in his job. He’s one of those rare employees that genuinely cares about his customers,” Patti Stahl said in an email about her husband who she says “wore his uniform proudly.”
Sidney Postmaster Brian Schroeder said, “Dave has provided stability and great customer service for the Sidney Post Office throughout his career. Many of Dave’s customers on his route have expressed how fortunate they are to have a great mail carrier they can count on to provide reliable mail delivery every day.”
“I’ve got to know quite a few of my customers on my route, and now they will know I will not be there anymore. I get a lot of people who do meet me at the door, and a lot of them know my name, and I just don’t have the opportunity to let everyone know I am retiring and I’m not going to be there,” Stahl said.
“I am going to miss a lot of my co-workers. Definitely my customers,” he continued. “Now I wont have to set an alarm — for about a month. But then I can work when I want.”