“It ain't your grandpa’s post office any more.”
William (Will) Pruitt of Athens knows that only too well. His grandfather was a rural postal carrier in the Canton area during the early 1900s when mail was delivered in a horse and buggy.
Pruitt's last day to deliver his rural Route 5 mail was Friday. On Jan. 2, 2015, Pruitt will officially retire from the Athens Post Office after 35 years as a postal carrier.
Pruitt started his career with the post office in Austin, in 1979. In 1986, he transferred to Athens. He has driven his 104-mile route five days a week for 28 years. He won't miss the driving, but will miss the people on his route.
A proud member of the National Rural Letter Carrier Association Union, he has traveled to 23 national union conventions, 30 state conventions and a number of other local union meetings.
“I have been a member of the union since I started with the Post Office,” Pruitt said. “One year I went as Benjamin Franklin.”
Franklin was the first United States Postmaster General.
When asked how many postmasters he has worked under, he said, “Too many to count.”
Pruitt has received many accolades during his career as a rural postal carrier. In 2012, he was named Carrier of the Year. In addition, he has held many positions within his union.
Pruitt said dogs have never bothered him.
“I am a dog lover,” said Pruitt.
He had one instance when a dog bit his tire and punctured it. For the most part, he was never scared of dogs on his route. “You know which dogs to avoid.”
The worse days he has experienced while on his mail route were the days he had two flat tires in one day, and on another day two cars broke down on the same day while delivering his mail.
“I kept mechanics busy,” said Pruitt.
He is looking forward to retirement. His plans include traveling with his wife of 13 years, Pamela Jean Pruitt. He and his wife are members of First United Methodist Church, Athens.
After retirement, Pruitt will have more time to continue his volunteer work at Henderson County Performing Arts Center (HCPAC).
“I enjoy volunteering at HCPAC.”