On Oct. 3, when customers went to the old post office in Leesburg, they noticed something missing.
The P.O. boxes were still intact; the counter tops to fill out address forms laid undisturbed. But Robert Edwards, a mainstay at the old post office for the past 25 years, was gone.
After 36 years working for the U.S. Postal Service, Edwards, now 65, has retired to what he hopes will now be a life of leisure.
“I’m looking forward to being able to come and go whenever I want,” Edwards said. “If I want to take off and go away, I don’t have to rush back.”
Edwards last two days on the job, Oct. 1-2, were highlighted by loyal patrons coming in to say goodbye, offer well-wishes and give him balloons and cards.
When Edwards began the job, he didn’t start expecting the adoration of a local community. At the time, he just wanted reliable work.
“It was going to be a good, steady job,” Edwards said. “Back then, you’d thought the post office was never going to close. You’d think you’d have a job forever.”
A native of Warrenton, Edwards’ first job was at the post office in Paeonian Springs. From there, he moved on to offices in Purcellville and Great Falls before moving to the main Leesburg post office on Catoctin Circle. In 1987, he moved to the old post office in downtown Leesburg, where he’s remained ever since, and in 2001, he relocated his residence in Leesburg as well.
“I just loved the small office, being able to talk with people,” Edwards said. “It’s a little easier there, not as much pressure.”
His strategy for effective business was just doing what he could to make people happy and trying to make the post office experience comfortable and easy.
“He always took care of his customers,” coworker Helen Czajkowski said. “Whenever he had a day off, they asked for him. They loved him.”
And much like the community has grown attached to Edwards, he has grown close to them.
“They’ve become a part of my life,” said Edwards of his regular customers. “Some of the children have now grown up to become my customers. I was waiting on them in strollers and now they’re 25 years old and still coming in.”
Working in the area for 36 years has given Edwards a close perspective on the changing demographics of the area. And although he’s seen the county balloon in growth and seen a decline in post office visitors as the internet took off, he’s confident the old post office will remain steady.
As for what Edwards is most looking forward to now that he’s retired? He was quick to respond.
“A big thing is going to be watching the snow and knowing I don’t have to walk to work in it. I’m hoping for a big winter.”
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