Last route for Wyoming mail carrier after 52 years

United States Postal Service mail carrier Tom Nauta punching out for the last time before retirement in Wyoming. (Oct. 30, 2015)

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A man who has worked as a letter carrier for more than five decades in West Michigan retired Friday at a Wyoming post office.

Tom Nauta worked in both Grand Rapids and Wyoming for 52 years.

“I started downtown in the post office there during urban renewal and the Hall of Justice, I remember, was just being built at that time, Nauta said. “Many of the downtown routes were being eliminated because of urban renewal.”

Nauta has been on the same route in Wyoming since 1989.

“If you’ve been on the route for as long as I have, you’ve seen families and their kids raised from little ones to when they finally leave the house, and others that have stayed and some of them have passed on,” Nauta said.

His co-workers describe him as a good person who is reliable.

“Most of us think we won’t be here 50 years, but you know, he’s just a great guy, said a fellow mail carrier. He’s an inspiration when you look at him and how hard he’s worked and provided for his family.”

“You can really count on Tom for whatever he says he’s gonna do, he does. 52 years, never late, never calls in sick. He’s just an absolute model employee, great man for our company,” post office manager Jay Mullennix told 24 Hour News 8.

Nauta’s son, Kevin Nauta, followed in his footsteps and has been working as a letter carrier for 20 years.

“He’s my eldest son and he works at the post office with me, too, the same station and I’m really proud of him and he’s proud of me,” Tom Nauta said. “I don’t think he’ll work as many years as I have.”

Kevin Nauta said his father’s retirement was a little emotional.

“He’s worked a long time to take care of us kids and we didn’t have a lot when we were growing up, but he was always there for us and it was hard on him, but he pulled through for us and I’m proud of him.”

“I’m kinda fighting the tears,” he added. “But I’m proud of him. I really am.”

Tom Nauta said the job has taken a toll mentally and physically.

“Sometimes, your memory is not as sharp anymore,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of winters. I’m getting kind of arthritis in my fingers and my back, so it’s time to go.”

He isn’t sure what he will do now that he’s retired, but he said he’s looking forward to spending time with his wife.

“I’ll just take it easy for a week or so, and my wife likes to go to craft sales so we’ll probably go there and see what’s happening,” Tom Nauta said. “We like to garden together and she likes to go to garage sales, so I imagine we’ll do that, too, and we’ll have a good time.”

Tom Nauta said the thing he will miss the most is the people he’s met while on the route.

“I’m going to miss it. I’m going to miss the comradery with people,” he said. “I told them this would be my last run and people have been really outpouring to me because I’ve pretty much been on time and they kind of look for me and it’ll be different I’m sure.”