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Pickel retiring from USPS

Buddy Pickel joined the Demopolis Post Office as a carrier fresh off a 30 month stint with the U.S. Air Force. He would spend the next 414 months building his career.

Pickel, who has served as the Demopolis Postmaster since 2006, will retire Feb. 1 and close out a 34 and half year career with USPS that has stretched his commute all over West Alabama.

“I never wanted to move my family,” the Demopolis native said. “We wanted to stay right here.”

Pickel has served as postmaster in five offices and worked in USPS offices in Newbern, Sawyerville, Georgiana, Marion Junction, Marion, Linden, Livingston and Demopolis .

The price of one First Class stamp on Pickel’s first day on the job was 15 cents. Monday, the price went up to 45 cents. But the price of a stamp isn’t the only thing that has changed over the past three-plus decades.

Pickel said automation of the sorting process has had one of the longest and profound effects on mail delivery.

“When I first started, we had seven clerks that sorted the mail,” he said. “Now, we’ve got three. It used to be all done by hand, all right here. Now, it’s done by machine…the mail is already sorted when it gets here.”

With no mail to sort or customers to help a week from today, Pickel said he would spend

“I love staying busy,” he said, noting he enjoys working in the yard, hunting and fishing.

“I doubt I’ll stay unemployed. I’ll need something to do.”

Next week, Pickel will hand the keys to the post office to an interim postmaster while the USPS seeks candidates to fill his position.

And as he readies himself to lock his door for the final time, Pickel said he could only offer one piece of advice to whomever follows him.

“Customer service is what it’s all about,” he said. “Just serve the people.”