Leslie Oglesby of the Forest Grove USPS branch, plans to travel in retirement

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - After nearly three decades with the U.S. Postal Service, Leslie Oglesby is retiring. The longtime Forest Grove post office clerk says she'll miss the customers most. One package ticked, Leslie Oglesby remembers. Another was covered in white powder.

Oglesby didn’t always know how to handle the surprises that came her way when she started working for the U.S. Postal Service 28 years ago.

She did, however, have a knack for helping people.

But her friendly face won’t be around anymore to send letters, retrieve long-awaited packages or listen to tales both sweet and heartbreaking. Oglesby retired from the Forest Grove Post Office last week.

Over nearly three decades, she’s delivered good or bad news to almost everyone in town. She’s seen envelopes of different shapes, sizes, and even odors. She’s seen postal jobs replaced by automation, and mail volume drop dramatically due to the Internet.

Oglesby, of Gaston, started her career in Cornelius as a part-time carrier, then worked in Vernonia, North Plains and Gaston before moving to the Forest Grove office to work as a clerk, where after 26 years she handed in her keys.

Some days were a challenge, like her first, when she sorted a 10-foot stack of letters for 10 hours. There was also the day she had three flat tires. Oglesby changed them all herself (yes, she had three spares on hand) and finished delivering the mail three hours late. The few scares she’s had turned out to be false alarms. The ticking box held a functioning clock, and the white powder turned out to be sugar.

Most days she loved her job.

“It’s the customers that make your day,” she said. “I’ve had 28 years of meeting really good people.”

Requested by name

Through the years, she’s received plants, coins, souvenirs, books, pictures and Christmas gifts from her regulars, many of whom request her by name.

Oglesby remembers almost all her customers, but a few stand out, such as the elderly man who lived alone after his wife died.

“He went over to Yamhill where he knew the stage coaches used to stop and used a metal detector to find old coins that he would bring in for me,” Oglesby said. “He was lonely and I think sometimes I was the only person he talked to all day. I was sad when he died.

“A lot of people don’t have human contact except for when they come in and talk to you,” she said.

She also remembers a young boy who sent packages to his father in Afghanistan. She helped him cover the boxes in stickers to make the occasion a happier one.

Although Oglesby will miss the people, “I’m ready for my next adventure," she noted. "I’m going to start giving back to Forest Grove, the town that has given me so much.”

Bucket list

She had planned to go to college before she started at the post office, but as a mother of two, her family needed more income. “I still have the desire to go to school, though,” said Oglesby, who is interested in poetry, art, mosaics and knitting. “Maybe I will now.”

She also plans to volunteer at her grandchildren’s schools, her church, local hospitals. and to spend more time with friends and her aging parents.

She’d also like to travel to Europe and maybe even Australia or New Zealand.

“A lot of people I know my age have died and they never retired and got the chance to do all those things,” said Oglesby, who is 55. “I have a bucket list that’s two pages long.”

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