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87-year-old mail carrier calls it a day

May 16, 2002|By DARREN SIMON

Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — For three decades, Alvino SanRoman has been the mail carrier on the same rural route here.

While that number may be significant on its own, it is dwarfed by another — SanRoman has been with the U.S. Postal Service for nearly five decades.

For all that time he has worked in Brawley, never desiring to work or live anywhere else than North County.

And, at age 87, it is with reluctance SanRoman is retiring — leaving a job that has been a part of his life since 1956.

He leaves as one of the oldest, if not the oldest, rural route carrier in the nation, according to postal officials.


On Wednesday morning SanRoman was honored by his co-workers, postmasters and district officials from San Diego.

It was an event SanRoman would have preferred after the work day so as not to disturb the clerks and mail carriers as they prepared for the day's delivery.

It was with some discomfort that he agreed to have a photo taken in his old cubicle — the one he worked in for nearly two decades before he got his rural route. He was uncomfortable because it meant a worker had to take a moment out of her duties, and that is something SanRoman doesn't like.

That stands to reason.

Those who know him and have worked with him describe SanRoman as a workhorse, a man who never missed a day's work.

In fact, he has built up two and a half years of sick leave. The man, according to co-workers, never stopped. He was as reliable as they come, they said.

SanRoman is somewhat nonchalant when he talks about his years with the Brawley post office.

"It was steady work rain or shine," he said, taking a moment between greetings and hugs from co-workers to talk to a reporter.

SanRoman added he had a family to support and a home and the postal service offered good pay and job security, and that was important to him.

It also was important to him to make sure the mail was delivered correctly. That was his job. That is what made his work count and how he made a difference.

What made him enjoy his work was his rural route. It gave him freedom.

"Out there I was my own boss," he said.

In 1916 SanRoman's family moved to Niland from the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

He attended Calipatria High School and then was drafted into the Army, serving during World War II in the Pacific Campaign with the 715th Amphibious Tractor Battalion.

SanRoman was discharged in 1945 and returned to the Imperial Valley, where he first worked for a liquor store. When the store was sold and he thought he might lose his job, SanRoman looked to the Postal Service and was hired in Brawley.

Nearly 50 years later, those in Postal Service said they have rarely seen someone in the service as long as SanRoman.

John Platt, manager for the Postal Service's San Diego district, awarded SanRoman a 50-year pin Tuesday; one of only two Platt said he has ever given to retiring postal workers.

"It is not a usual happening, but it is a great honor," Platt said.

Tamara Alexander, postmaster in Brawley, said of SanRoman, "He brought a lot of knowledge with him."

She added, "He will be missed."

Brawley Union High School District Trustee Helen Noriega, SanRoman's niece, said of her uncle, "I am proud of what he has accomplished. He talks about work as though it was his life."

SanRoman said he stayed on the job so long because he is not the retiring kind. He said as long as he was physically strong enough he wanted to work, and even now he feels strong enough to stay active and that is what he plans to do.

He joked that the first time he had a physical was in his 70s. He said before that he never thought about physicals; he didn't see a need for it.

SanRoman said, "I figure I have 10 years left to work."

In that time he would like to give his time to help others; maybe working at a senior citizen home or anywhere where he might be needed.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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