FARMINGTON — West Farmington Postmaster Donice Whitney plans to put a 1,000-piece puzzle together after Friday.

Friday, she’s set aside for saying goodbye.

With more than 26 years in the postal service, Whitney, 57, of Mercer took an offered early retirement. Her last day is Jan. 31.

For 10 years, she helped customers at the West Farmington post office in a renovated train depot.

“My bucket list is minimal,” she said. “I’ve worked my entire life. My mind is more on what I need to do than what’s enjoyable.”

The 2,000 flower seedlings she plants every year will probably grow larger, she said. There’ll be plenty of time to garden on the 50 acres she and her husband, Mark, own.

“I’ll garden ’round the clock,” she said.

The 320 box holders who frequent the post office have become more than customers for Whitney. It’s difficult to leave, she said.

“I ask a lot of questions and get to know them,” she said. “They have my heart. They tell their stories and I cry with them and am joyous with them. I also worry about them.”

One brought tears to her eyes. Sully Greenwood lived in an apartment across the street from the post office, she said.

“He’d come in every morning, stand at the counter and talk to me. He told stories, rarely ever repeating the same one,” she said.

One Saturday morning, his window shade didn’t go up as usual. She called his son who found he had passed away overnight.

“Sully was just a wonderful man,” she said.

The West Farmington post office offers convenience for customers. There are only two steps to maneuver and parking is easy. There’s good traffic and it does good business, she said.

It’s also a perfect location for Whitney to work. The Whistle Stop trail across the road provides a walking path during the lunch hour. In the summer, she’s known for bringing a yellow kayak to work to spend the time at Mill Pond.

“I need to clear my head,” she said.

She has kept the office simple, using an adding machine and paper. The work is transferred to a computer.

“My goal is for them to not be here to stand in line but to come and go,” she said. “It’s still small town.”

Whitney grew up in Industry. After working in Farmington and at New Balance shoe shops, she took the postal test. She decided to stay at home with her two children but was hired as a rural carrier associate. About four months later, she became a clerk at the Wilton Post Office where she worked for nearly 16 years.

She started in West Farmington in September 2003 after Martha Bessey retired. Peggy Pottle became her postmaster relief, filling in as needed.

Kathleen Turner of Farmington will become the Officer in Charge at West Farmington, a position reached before postmaster.

“I want to thank the community for all their heartfelt support over the years,” Whitney said. 

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