The Amissville column returns to the Rappahannock News! Please send information and story ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call me in the evenings at 540-937-5438.
In an era when some enjoy characterizing public-sector workers as overpaid and lacking dedication, Norma Furr, the recently retired postmaster of the Amissville Post Office, serves as an example of professionalism no matter the circumstances.
During an interview Friday on her last day on the job, Norma told the story, but only reluctantly, of how she kept the post office open one day when she was working alone and had received a telephone call that her husband had died in Warrenton of a sudden heart attack. Despite her own anguish, Norma continued working while calling area post offices until someone could be sent to take her place.
Now Norma has ended her six-year tenure in Amissville, her last assignment during an almost 35-year U.S. Postal Service (USPS) career.
“It’s been a great job and I have really enjoyed working in Amissville, but it is time to go,” she said.
Beginning this week, she has been replaced by acting postmaster Cherie Cable, who had been serving here as assistant postmaster.
While Norma had long been considering retirement, a $20,000 incentive offered by the USPS became a deciding factor. The deadline to accept the incentive was June 22.
“Yes, the extra money and the deadline really helped me make the decision,” she said.
She was not alone. Two other Rappahannock County postmasters, Lee Morrison in Flint Hill and Yvonne Jarrell in Washington, are also retiring this month. (More about Morrison in next week’s paper.)
In the back of the Amissville facility, surrounded by half-full carts and mail bags that are leaner than they used to be in these days of email and highly competitive private delivery services, Norma pondered the future of an organization that had provided her employment and job satisfaction for her entire adult life.
“It’s scary for everyone in the Postal Service. Nobody knows what the future holds,” she said, sadly.
Like many in her generation, she went to a postal job immediately after graduating from high school – Manassas Osbourne – because she did not want to go to college.
“That’s what everyone did,” agreed Cable.
After several years working at the Merrifield regional facility, she clerked in Manassas and worked in government relations at USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C. Her next assignment was address management at the Dulles regional facility, followed by serving as postmaster in Aldie, Elkwood and, finally, Amissville.
She says she has loved her years working in Amissville, observing that residents treated her very well. Looking thoughtful, she predicted that it will take time for her new life to take shape, both as a recent widow and now retiree. At the moment, her only plan is an autumn cruise with her 26-year-old daughter. In the meantime, her days of explaining the benefits of Express Mail versus Priority Mail are over.
“You know, I’m really done,” she said.
The Amissville Methodist Men were at the grill again for their latest Saturday breakfast. This reporter was the first through the line right at the 8 a.m. opening, loading up with their biscuits, sausage gravy, scrambled eggs and grits. Sadly, there was no room on the plate for pancakes.
Since the last time I was there, they have added tandem waffle irons to the lineup, making it even more difficult to choose what to eat.
The breakfasts are every third Saturday of the month. The Methodist men rely on the voluntary proceeds of the breakfasts to fund their service projects. The next breakfast will be on Aug. 18.
I’ll meet you at the waffle table.