WILMINGTON — Last week, after 36 years of delivering mail in Wilmington, Rural Postal Carrier Denyce DeRoche retired. She watched the post office and the town change over those years and is now leaving with mixed emotions. She is thrilled to complete her career, but will miss her co-workers and the people of Wilmington.
“The Post Office has been so good to me, and Wilmington is the best place to work,” DeRoche said.
She has always delivered mail here in town and had the same route for the last 30 years.
“My customers are like family now; they are great people.”
DeRoche was in her first year of college when she passed the post office exam. That was 1982. She went to the interview and was offered the position, but that almost didn’t happen.
“He thought I was too little for the job,” she reported, referring to the man who interviewed her.
She learned this when she saw him many years later. He had retired, and he admitted his doubt to her in a friendly chat.
“He was reluctant, but he took a chance,” DeRoche added. “And then he said he wished he had 10 more like me.”
When she first started, the local carriers used their own cars. They would own vehicles with bench seats. DeRoche had a Plymouth Duster. She sat in the middle and put the mail against the passenger’s door.
“I actually drove with my left foot on the brake and gas,” she explains. She would steer with her left arm and delivered mail with the right.
“You just did it, and once you got it down pat, it was awesome.”
Also, when she first started, the carriers had lock boxes and sold stamps. If customers had things to mail, carriers took their packages.
“Basically we were the window service for them,” DeRoche explained. “Now they go to the post office to do it or do it on-line.”
Carriers still provide services such as picking up the packages after customers arranged for mailing on-line.
DeRoche also watched the town grow and change. For example, on her route one little home in a wooded area grew into 30 residences.
“Chestnut and Burlington Avenue were my two main roads,” she said. “It is a beautiful area and always has been.”
Another consistency she reported is the friendliness of her customers as well town employees she interracted with. On hot days some of her customers would leave her frozen bottles of water wrapped in tinfoil in the mailbox.
“And DPW, the police department, and the fire department were always there when I needed them,” she stated with a reverent tone of great appreciation.
DeRoche’s family owns a hardware store in New Hampshire so her immediate plans for retirement are to help with the business and to take care of her mother. But she is exploring volunteer opportunities, too. She hopes to get involved with the Veterans Administration as a driver assisting those who need rides to appointments.
In closing out her career as a public servant, DeRoche said she wants mostly just to thank all the people she worked with, the customers on her route, and all the town workers in Wilmington. DeRoche will reside in her hometown of Salem.