ELKTON- Mary Cole was working at Summitville Tile when she decided to take a United States Postal Service test 39 years ago. It was a decision that would lead to a decades-long government career she only recently opted to retire from.
Cole was honored during a special ceremony at the Elkton United Methodist Church Sunday afternoon. She has served as Elkton postmaster the last 19 years.
During her first 20 years with the postal service Cole worked as a clerk in West Point, and then clerk, rural and city carrier in Salineville. The West Point job was her very first with the postal service and she worked there every Saturday for two hours a day.
Elkton Postmaster Mary Cole (left) is retiring after 19 years of service. Her co-worker Donna Ritteger is also retiring after nine years of service. (Photo by Katie Schwendeman)
Making the transition to carrier routes in Salineville wasn't difficult, and most people knew who she was anyway, so making the daily rounds was a chance to briefly say hello to friends.
"I just love people. I know everybody in town. I enjoyed it," she said.
There were times, like in the winter, when delivering mail wasn't easy, she said, but she wouldn't trade it. Adjusting to technological changes over the years also took some getting used to.
"I had to adjust to computers, scanners, credit card machines. Everything was done by hand, now it's all machine," she said.
Cole was able to adjust well enough to later earn the postmaster position in Elkton and train Donna Ritteger as clerk there. The two are now good friends and Ritteger is also retiring after nine years of service.
Cole applied for the postmaster position along with 30 other people, "and I got it," she said.
Ritteger praised Cole highly and said she is "the best person to work with."
Cole said she decided to retire after the postal service offered her a retirement incentive. "I figured it's time," she said, adding that she will remain in the area.
She was born in East Liverpool and graduated from Wellsville High School. She has two sons, Cody and Jeremiah Cole, and a granddaughter, Kaylee Cole.