Final delivery: Pittsfield letter carrier to retire after 30 years walking downtown route
Photo Gallery | Pittsfield Postal Carrier Bill Turner to retire after 41 years
PITTSFIELD — A blustery, chilly late March morning won't deter Bill Turner from his appointed rounds.
After 30 years of walking a downtown letter carrier route, Turner can handle gusty winds, snow, sleet, rain and summer heat.
He even once saved an elderly woman's life while on the job.
On Tuesday, as he's done since 1986, Turner delivered the mail to appreciative customers, reminding them he's nearing the end of an career with the U.S. Postal Service that overall would span four decades.
"Where else can you walk to get exercise, meet people and get paid for it?" he told a reporter.
Many along his route have wished him well, but will miss his daily stops that are anything but routine.
"Bill is a nice guy," said Maria Sekowski of Maria's European Delights on North Street. "He loves when I play my music and [he] dances [in] the runway of my store,"
Turner will sling his satchel over his shoulder and hand-delivers the mail for the last time to business and home owners in the heart of the city.
Given the postman's penchant for sarcasm and cracking jokes, his regular customers weren't sure if he was kidding about retiring on April 1 — April Fools Day.
"People think it's a joke," he said. "I tell them you won't see me in uniform on April 2."
William M. Turner, 62, first donned a postal uniform in 1973 as a temporary clerk in the Pittsfield post office. He eventually was hired full time in 1977, becoming a third-generation postal worker in the Turner family.
His first mail route was in the area of Pittsfield High School before switching to the current Route No. 24 his grandfather William F. Turner walked for 39 years. His father, William B. Turner, had 33 years of postal service, but never walked a beat.
William M. typically begins his day with the mail truck parked in front of BBE Office Interiors, making the store near the corner of North and Fenn streets his first stop.
"I've known Bill since I was a little kid," said BBE co-owner Dan Proskin. "I'm always asking him, 'You have any money for us?' and he always gives me a funny remark."
In the Shipton Building a few doors down, Turner navigates the maze of offices with ease — no surprise to Corinne Brown, office manager of AH&M Marketing Communications.
"Nobody else can handle it like him," Brown said. "Everybody here loves him, everybody in the building loves him."
Joan Barry will miss Turner on the weekdays, but she'll catch up with him at least once a week as they regular attend 4 p.m. Mass at St. Joseph Church. The executive secretary at the Barry Law Offices on North Street enjoys conversing with Turner, who always seems to get in the last word.
"No matter what you say to him, he comes right back at you — and then he's out the door," she said.
Turner's mail route is jovial, yet usually uneventful. Twice dogs along the way have bitten him — nothing serious — but mostly the canines await a pat on the head from their favorite postman.
Turner's most serious encounter occurred on a summer day, 1993 when he got concerned about an elderly woman along his route. The woman regularly waved to Turner from a window of her First Street home, but two days in a row there was no such greeting, so he tried to enter the house.
"I could hear a faint voice ... she had fallen by the door," he recalled.
Turner quickly flagged down a passing police cruiser and he and an officer managed to get the door open and rescue the woman. City police honored Turner for his efforts.
"I was told if we hadn't gotten to her that day, she might have died," he said.
An avid Boston Red Sox fan — he likes to point out he and Red Sox great David Ortiz are retiring in the same year — Turner will miss the daily interaction on his appointed rounds, but has no qualms about retiring.
"I'm going to unplug my alarm clock and throw it away," he said. "My son has a boat, so I told him we're going fishing."
Contact Dick Lindsay at 413-496-6233.
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