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Howard honored for postmaster years

James Howard was honored recently for his careeer with the United State Postal Service, during which he has worked as the postmaster at the Selma post office for 30 years. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

James Howard was honored recently for his careeer with the United State Postal Service, during which he has worked as the postmaster at the Selma post office for 30 years. (Jay Sowers | Times-Journal)

 

A lifetime of service has suited James Howard just fine.

Howard was honored last week for the 30 years he has spent as the postmaster of the Selma Post Office, as well as the 50 years he has spent in government service with the U.S. Navy and the United State Postal Service.

Looking back now, Howard will say he has known this is the life he wanted since he saw the way the mailman was respected during his boyhood days in Jones.

“People would say ‘Oh, here comes the mailman’, and for some reason I thought that was what I wanted to be,” Howard said. “We knew he was a civil servant, and that is what I wanted to be.”

After his career with the United State Postal Service began on Feb. 20, 1968, Howard served as postmaster at the Post Offices in Uniontown and Marion before taking the top job in Selma in 1984.

Howard said the biggest joy he has gotten out of his job has been watching people he has trained move up within the USPS.

“It means a lot to me that I was able to help develop them,” Howard said. “Development of others has always been a big thing to me because I feel that if we develop our people, they can help other people and make our organization stronger.”

Howard estimates that between 30 and 40 people he has trained over the years have moved on to become postmasters themselves.

And he hasn’t just enjoyed developing his employees.

Over the years, Howard has taught business courses at Selma University and Concordia College Alabama, as well as postal courses at Troy University.

“You do have a book that you teach from, but you inject your own experiences into the lessons, as well,” Howard said. “It meant a lot to me to share my experiences, because I know students aren’t always able to hear that point of view.”

While Howard goes about his work in a quiet manner, others have taken notice. Alabama District Manager Mary Sullivan, who oversees all Post Offices, postal operations and postal employees in Alabama, said it is clear how much Howard cares for the job he has, and the people he serves.

“Mr. Howard’s career has spanned half a century, which speaks to his dedication to the Postal Service,” Sullivan said. “He has spent 30 years as Postmaster of Selma, which speaks to his dedication to the residents of Selma.”

Howard said while the job of postmaster can, like any job, be stressful, it has been more fun than he could have ever imagined.

“It’s been a dream come true,” Howard said. “I usually tell my students that if you get a job you have a passion for … you’ll never work a day in your life. This job for me has been more like a hobby that I get paid to do.”