Calhoun County Journal
Bill Ross is concluding a 41-year career with the United States Postal Service this month.
He is a native of Pine Valley, located between Bruce and Water Valley.
Ross, who has served as Bruce’s postmaster the past 26 years, has announced his retirement effective the end January.
“I’m just ready to retire and enjoy life,” said Ross, who retire last year from the National Guard where he served for nearly 28 years.
Ross accepted his first job with the postal service on Jan. 15,1966, when he was hired on a part-time basis in Water Valley. His grandfather, J.P. Jenkins, a former school teacher, superintendent and legislator from Pine Valley, urged Ross to take the postal exam at age 18.
“He really pushed me,” Ross said.
He continued on a part-time basis in Water Valley, while working other odd jobs, until 1978 when he was hired as postmaster at Oakland. Three years later, Bruce Postmaster Charles Mulvihill retired opening the door for Ross.
Ross also served two stints as officer-in-charge at Enid and Coffeeville post offices.
Over the past 26 years, Ross has seen baby chickens, lady bugs and bee hives come through the Bruce post office. One time he went to empty the outside mailbox to find a live opossum inside. Ross said the hardest part was cleaning off all the mail the opossum had “soiled.”
A less interesting, but more frightening package arrived several years ago with a constant ticking.
“It worried the girls enough they set it out back,” Ross said. It turned out to be a clock for Don Bell.
Under Ross’s leadership, the Bruce post office has undergone several changes. The box section has been expanded three different times.
When he started, all the mail was worked by hand.
“There was no automation,” Ross said. Today, most of it arrives pre-sorted.
The Bruce post office during that time also progressed from a level 15 to a level 18 center. Improvements in technology have been one of the biggest changes, Ross said.
“I used to have to do a cashbook everyday,” Ross said. “Now it’s all computerized.”
The only significant time Ross has ever missed was due to his service with the 223rd Engineering Battalion in the National Guard. Ross has served in missions to Panama, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Barbados, Italy, twice to Germany, and as he referred to it, “the big one,” 14 months in Iraq.
It’s the people who stand out to Ross, however, when looking back over his career.”I’ve always enjoyed that daily interaction with customers,” Ross said.
He also offered praise for his many co-workers through the years.
Ross has served as postmaster so long he has had six of his employees to retire – rural mailcarriers Walter Glenn, Thurman Massey and Edwin Bagwell, and clerks Betty Rabe, Sandra Daniels and Grace Martin.
Ross, 60, said he’s looking forward to hunting, fishing and traveling, but knows he will miss the post office.
“It’s going to be a hard adjustment not to have to get up every morning,” Ross said. “But I bet I’ll manage.”
(Editor’s Note: Bill Ross is the son of Betsy Ross and the late Floyd Ross of Water Valley.)