The lines went outside the University City Post Office doors into the parking lot for hours as the community said their farewells to retiring postal worker Elizabeth “Beth” West on Saturday, Feb. 29. West is retiring after 50 years working as a U.S. postal worker, 35 of the past years working at the University City branch, her last working day was Feb. 28. Before that, West worked at the Clairemont branch, and her former Clairemont supervisor, Conrad von Metzke, was one of the many that made sure to stop by.
Christine Carmichael, district marketing manager for the U.S. Post Office, said that “50 years is a long time, and for Beth to stay at the same location for 35 years is astounding! It’s a very rare thing, and clearly the customers love her. For the customers to put this on for Beth, that’s astounding, and this crowd — I’ve never seen anything like this.” Carmichael and Mayra Elena, former UC branch postal worker and now in the marketing department, presented West with a framed collection of her favorite “Love” stamp. The marketing department had to do an all-hands search for the 1982 stamps, but they knew the stamp was special to West.
West was clearly emotional after receiving a framed proclamation from Cesar Campo, representative for Congressman Scott Peters. Peters had been instrumental in helping her family resolve a past veteran’s benefit issue, and West has always been grateful for that assistance. Council member Barbara Bry was also in attendance and presented West with a special commendation, stating that she is an “exemplary public servant, and the fact that all these people are here is a tribute to your 50 years of service and the 35 years in University City.” West, speaking afterward, was in tears as she attributed it all back to the “wonderful community of University City. I’ve had 35 years of pure joy.”
West was clearly touched by the overwhelming love and support by the community, where every guest wanted to give their hugs and share memories. Amongst the many stories shared, included those of: Stephanie Krasner who went into labor at West’s counter in November 1995 and feels West has been part of her family since its beginning; the Mann family and West’s help with their package mailers for their work organizing Pacific Coast Trail hikers, averaging 2,000 packages a year; and those with former co-workers Kathy Latham and Susan Davidson, who together were the “angels” to many post office clients.
Michele Hagstrom, one of the event organizers, stated it simply that West “represented what the UC community is all about. She treated each of her customers with grace and style. She saw me pregnant with my kids and watched them grow up and has continued to ask about them. She shines so bright.”
West has been a longtime fixture in the community, as she attended Whittier Elementary, Marston Middle, and Clairemont High Schools – before the schools in University City were built. Now she plans to spend more time with family and friends.
As UC bids farewell, Iris Clauss, who set up a GoFundMe fundraiser for West and helped organize the event, summed up why the community supports West so much, saying that, “Beth has worked at our post office since I was a little girl. I don’t ever remember Beth not working at the post office! Every time I go to the post office, she recognizes me, asks me how I’m doing. She is so nice, and not just to me, I can tell she’s nice to everyone.”
West’s statement to all was this:
“Goodbye! I am retiring on Feb. 28, 2020, from the United States Postal Service, accomplishing 50 years of service. Thirty-five years have been serving the University City community. It’s been my privilege serving you through tears, laughs, congratulations, mailing many packages and letters, selling stamps and processing passports. The University City community has become my family and friends. It’s bittersweet to have to say goodbye. With love – Beth West, UCPO Postal Clerk, 92122.”
Thanks for your service, Beth West, the UC community will miss your friendship and love. To donate to the GoFundMe for West, visit gofundme.com/f/thank-you-beth-for-35-year-at-uc-post-office.