Delivered … into retirement

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cynthia Williams, left, and Ellen Lacey celebrate their last day of work at the downtown Suffolk post office on Thursday. The two retired with a combined 47 years of service to the U.S. Postal Service.

Customers at the Suffolk post office on Thursday wiped away tears as they stood in line to mail packages and buy stamps.

But the waterworks weren’t triggered by long lines, lost mail or any of the other frustrations sometimes associated with the U.S. Postal Service. The customers were crying because two of their favorite clerks were working their last days at the postal service before entering retirement Friday.

Cynthia Williams has worked at the Suffolk post office since 1996. Ellen Lacey started there around the same time, then worked about 10 years at the Crittenden post office on Bridge Road, then returned to the Suffolk location last year.

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Williams and Lacey have been with the postal service a total of 23 and 24 years, respectively. On Thursday, they wore crowns made of delivery confirmation slips and priority mail labels and worked under hovering, helium-filled balloons reading “Happy Retirement.”

“I love helping people,” said Williams, who added she always wanted to work for the postal service. “The person that comes in with a box wide open and doesn’t know how to ship it, I get pleasure out of doing it for them or showing them how to do it so next time they’ll be prepared. I like the satisfaction of seeing a smile on someone’s face.”

Lacey said she enjoys working with customers.

“The customers are so much fun,” she said. “I’m going to miss everybody I work with.”

Both women said they know pretty much everybody in Suffolk, and are able to call many customers by name.

Williams said she is looking forward to spending more time as a Mary Kay consultant and traveling, particularly going camping.

As for Lacey, who worked at a medical office before joining the postal service, she is taking a medical coding course and hopes to get back into the medical field.

Lee Ann Burnette, a clerk at the office, said everybody — from coworkers to customers — would miss Williams and Lacey.

“I’ve enjoyed working with them,” she said. “They’re both all about customer service. The public’s going to miss them.”