United States Postal Service employee Raymond Bixby made one last round on his Chipley route last week before retiring as a letter carrier after 25 years.
Bixby, a military veteran, began his USPS career in August 1998 as a part time employee in Dothan, Alabama, earning a full-time spot – and his own route – two years later.
“City Route 13 was the first route I had as a carrier,” recalls Bixby. “It was 15 miles of riding and 7 miles of walking in the azalea trail part of Dothan on the north side of town. There were 427 stops, including 2 business – an elementary school and a middle school.”
Just a year after he began his fulltime route, Bixby’s postal career was put on hold when the events of 9/11 called on him to return to serving his nation as a soldier.
“I remember when 9/11 happened,” he said. “I was at work at Northside Station, listening to my radio when a news flash came on about one of the towers being hit by a plane. And at first, we didn’t know it was terrorists. We thought it was an accident – and then the next one was hit.”
Bixby says he couldn’t ignore the pull to reenlist.
“My daughter was in basic training, and after all that transpired, I went back in,” he said. “I had been out of the military for about 15 years at that time, but I had to go back in and serve. Our nation needed us.”
Bixby would go on to be commissioned as an officer in the Alabama National Guard and join a miliary police company out of Prattville, Alabama and serve in Iraq before returning to USPS and his route in Dothan. He continued to work that route, marking more than 12 years before transferring to Chipley following a hiring freeze and surplus of full time unassigned regular carriers.
“The people in Chipley received me like I had been there my whole life,” he said. “That was awesome to see, and I didn’t meet a stranger. It made it easier to transition.”
Fellow Chipley carrier Jennifer Gardner says Bixby “fit right in” with the Chipley staff.
“Ray and I have shared a lot of laughs, a few tears, and even prayers on several occasions,” said Gardner. “I am truly going to miss him. I’ll miss how he always wears shorts no matter the temperature, because we are “all whimps,” according to him. I probably won’t miss how he would tease the rural carriers about having ‘puddin’ routes’ and how we could ‘always apply at waste management.’ We all love to carry on and pick at one another. We laugh every single day. Raymond will be missed.”
Bixby says a lot of customers have become friends over the years.
“I’ve met a lot of good friends, whether business customers or residents,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of good friends and even was able to go on three mission trips to the Ukraine while I was working in Chipley.”
Bixby’s next adventure will take him to Tampa, where he has a scholarship to River University to study ministry.
“My next chapter in my life will be serving the Lord and working for Him because He made all this happen,” he said. “I’m very excited to see what happens next.