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Postmistress retires

| Saturday, Jan. 29, 2005

WEST DEER -- The Curtisville community bid farewell to a woman many said they adopted as one of their own.

Ann Phillips of Pine is retiring Monday after 30 years as a U.S. Postal Service employee, 20 of which were spent as postmistress of the Curtisville Post Office.

Residents held a dinner in her honor Friday night at West Deer Volunteer Fire Department No. 1, where 140 to 200 people were expected to attend.

"I'm overwhelmed," Phillips said. "The townspeople put this together. They're the most wonderful people."

Phillips said she loved her job and the people she encountered, but it's time to relax and take time to travel.

"I have two grandsons in North Carolina, and my husband (Jim) and I would like time to see them," Phillips said. "It's time to relax and play in my garden."

Her career started in Wexford, where she was a substitute rural carrier before she was promoted to clerk and then supervisor before moving to Curtisville for the postmaster's position.

"I wanted the postmaster job," Phillips said. "I knew nothing about the town, but I came here and found a home. To have a job that you want to go to every day -- I'm blessed."

Phillips, a self-described people person, said she will miss that interaction.

"They're just like family to me," Phillips said. "They're just too much. This has happened before, where I hadn't been feeling well and someone from the town stopped by to drop off dinner for me."

She said school children often would wait inside the building for the school bus when it was cold.

"I'll miss watching the kids grow up," she said.

Mel Wick, assistant fire chief at West Deer No. 1, said he's known Phillips for about 15 years.

"She's like one of the family," Wick said. "She's never had a bad side."

Mary Jo Sypulski, who worked as a relief clerk at the post office until 1999, and another friend, Mary Lloyd, helped organize the dinner.

Lloyd owns the nearby cement business, C. Lloyd Co.

"I would do all my business with her," Lloyd said. "With all the mail I have, she takes time out and explains things.

"My grandson won't go in the post office unless she's there because she has toys for the kids," Lloyd said.

A friend, Donna Gizienski, assisted Sypulski and Lloyd in organizing the send-off.

"She goes beyond what she has to do," Gizienski said. "If someone is sick, she sent 'get well' cards. If someone died, she went to the funeral home. At Christmas time for the kids, she always would have something to give them. When someone had a baby, she usually sent a card or a gift. She did things like that that a normal person wouldn't do.

"With this being Curtisville, it's an old mining town, so we're all really close," Gizienski said. "She's one of us. You'd think she's lived here all her life, not in Pine.

"We hate to see her go."

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