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DL postmaster to retire

Three weeks before his birthday, Dale Storey decided it was time to sell his last stamp. The Detroit Lakes man will serve his last day as postmaster on June 29 after 34 years in the Postal Service.

Working his way up the ladder, Storey started out in Walhalla, N.D., as a part-time clerk. From there, he moved to Grand Forks, N.D., for 19 years. He served in various positions including clerk, city carrier, supervisor of carriers, manager of mail processing and manager of customer service. On to Crookston as postmaster, and finally ending his career in Detroit Lakes for the last four years.

Storey said he has enjoyed his time as postmaster the best because "decisions were mine." Although there are always guidelines by the higher-ups, he said there were always "things you can do to help" his workers.

"I always try to make life better -- I guess that depends on what employees you talk to," he said with a laugh.

Besides postmaster, he said he also enjoyed walking the streets as a city carrier.

"The people on your route get so close. You get to know them so well -- the personal contact," he said.

After working for years with different people, he said it's those people he'll miss most.

"The relationships I've formed with the people that work for me. I'll miss dealing with them every day, that bond."

Not only the workers from Detroit Lakes, but also the friends he has made with other postal employees from other towns throughout the district.

"It'll be tough not to have that every day," he said.

During his 34 years in the Postal Service, Storey has seen many changes. The biggest, he said, is automation. From hand-sorting mail to machines reading handwriting and sorting everything automatically.

Also, since starting in 1973, "the philosophy of going more toward business" has changed. When he started, there was only the post office, and that's the service people used to send mail and packages. In time, the Postal Service had to learn to become competitive.

"When I started, we were the Postal Service. Now we've had to rethink our role," he said.

And now Storey will be rethinking his priorities and sitting back to enjoy life.

"I'm a simple guy," he said. He has no definite plan of what's next in store for him, but he is happy for the freedom to get up, start his day with a cup of coffee and then decide what to do rather than go to the office.

Some things he's looking forward to are traveling and spending more time with his two children and his grandchildren. He'll also be able to be more involved with some community projects he's interested in.

"It's the excitement at what's out there next for me," he said.

After a summer of relaxation, he said he'll eventually find something to occupy his time.

To fill in for Storey after the end of the month, Ada Postmaster Pete Slabik will serve as interim postmaster until a permanent one is appointed.

There will be an open house Friday, June 29, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the post office for Storey.

"For me, it's been a good time here," he said.