Last USPS ‘Special Delivery Messenger’ at Elmhurst IL post office retires after 53 years

James Balluff was the last of his kind.

Balluff retired this month after an almost 53-year career delivering mail — which he spent entirely at the Elmhurst, IL, Post Office.

He was the office’s last employee to have the title “special delivery messenger.” The title was given to individuals who were hired for Special Delivery mail, an expedited service that was discontinued in 1997.


James Balluff, who recently concluded an almost 53-year career as a special delivery messenger at the Elmhurst, IL, Post Office, addresses co-workers at his retirement party.

Nationwide, about 100 employees have special delivery messenger job titles.

“I once had to deliver a box of flowers in a poor section of town,” Balluff recalled. “A woman answered the door. She got all excited and was bouncing around like a kid. I thought, man, this job is great.”

Balluff began his career in February 1965, when the hourly rate was $3.07.

Seven months later, he was drafted to fight in Vietnam, where he was seriously injured during an artillery strike soon after his Army tour began.

“My leg was bleeding,” he said. “It wasn’t critical. I got a little gangrene. They had to cut out part of my calf muscle.”

Balluff was later stationed in Saigon and then Hawaii before returning to the Elmhurst Post Office, where he worked with 17 Postmasters and 67 supervisors during the course of his career.

Post Office Operations Manager Gregory Harris said Balluff was “an esteemed member of our postal family and … an historical figure.”

The 73-year-old Balluff, who has survived a heart attack and other ailments, and his wife Susan had a deal to retire together so they can spend more time with their two daughters and seven grandchildren.

Susan concluded her career at a spinal research institution in December, but Balluff decided to hold on until January.

“My favorite time at the Post Office is always Christmas. We’re busy, listening to Christmas carols and everyone’s in a good mood. So I figured I’d leave after that,” he said.

He paused for moment, then said: “But I kind of miss it.”

source: USPS News Link

10 thoughts on “Last USPS ‘Special Delivery Messenger’ at Elmhurst IL post office retires after 53 years

  1. We all work in different Postoffice and in many areas of the country.
    Unlike the James a large percentage
    Of employees are working under undesirable conditions.james love both the people in which he worked and the job. Let just be happy to hear that someone is happy. Thank You James it’s people like you that make me proud.

  2. This reminds me of when I worked on Capitol Hill in the mid-1960’s. An elderly man would come into the office around midnight to clean out the Congressman’s spitoon…
    even though he did not use tobacco. He probably made little more than $1/hour.

  3. Thank you for your service. You have served this country more than most. You are what makes America the best country in the world.

  4. He will have plenty of time now to tell his grandchildren stories of how he made $4 an hour as a mail carrier the last 10 years…..

    • the fish rots from the head down pal. would love to have spent 53 years at a great company, with great people, like American Airlines, Verizon, or an Exxon-Mobil. companies like these value their workers, instead of a dump like the Postal Circus who has disdain for their workers. can you imagine working for Boeing, building a 747, with real professional people.

  5. Guys like this were the heart and soul of the p.o. They dont make them like this anymore. The new people totally suck, and have no dedication to their work or professionalism. I have 33 years and have seen the deterioration of the employees in all crafts.Not to mention the total joke that management is

  6. Fine, he had the title, what’s he been doing since 1997? I work with a former Special D clerk, she’s only in her 40’s.

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