Clawson families say goodbye as mail carrier walks route for the last time

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published March 1, 2017

 Clawson postal carrier Lee “Ernie” Adams stops for a photo with Postmaster Brenda Ernst following a retirement party for Adams, who is 
hanging up his mailbag after 32 years.

Clawson postal carrier Lee “Ernie” Adams stops for a photo with Postmaster Brenda Ernst following a retirement party for Adams, who is hanging up his mailbag after 32 years.

Photo by Donna Agusti

CLAWSON — For more than three decades, Lee Adams has been serving his friends in rain, snow, sleet and high heat.

The Clawson mail carrier — also known as Ernie to those in the know — is quick to say that calling the residents along his route customers doesn’t say enough toward the relationship he’s enjoyed through the years, so he calls them friends.

Adams hung up his mail bag Feb. 25 and said goodbye to the community he loves after a little more than 32 years.

“The post office is the reason why I have a roof over my head, along with paying for weddings and college and making wonderful friends,” Adams said.

The 62-year-old Troy resident was like a superstar along his route, famous with his residents and their pets.

“And they have meant so much to me,” he said.

He’s seen generations of families, and he fondly discusses stories of the kids he enjoyed watching grow up over the years. He even has one family that spans three generations along his route.

He talks fondly of the Davis family, and watching Christian Davis grow up, go off to college and return to Adams’ route after purchasing a home where he now lives with his wife and young son.

“He was a little guy playing football, and now he’s moved on, and he’s such a fine young man,” Adams said. “Being out on the route has been so rewarding.”

Resident Reneé Lyons said she doesn’t know what the homeowners will do without him.

“He is an awesome, awesome man,” she said. “He is a very sweet person, thoughtful, kind, and he’s helped so many people through the years while going through rain, sleet and snow.”

For many along his route, Adams represents a strong work ethic, neighborly attitude and giving spirit.

“He personifies what a postal carrier should be,” Lyons said. “We’re going to miss him terribly.”

The Clawson carrier has been known to take garbage cans out and bring them back in for those unable to do so, offer gardening advice, change a lightbulb and even deliver meals to people in need along his route.

“I do whatever I need to do,” he said. “And I know my friends would do the same for me.”

His wife, Debbie Adams, said that it was extremely hard for Lee to make the retirement decision, but it was time. She looks forward to welcoming him home and spending lots of time with their family, including his mother, who is 90. And Debbie joked that she has a growing honey-do list.

Lee said he will continue walking, which he has grown to love through the years.

Clawson Postmaster Brenda Ernst said there is no way Lee could be replaced.

“It’s like losing a part of the family,” she said.

Ernst said Lee is the definition of customer service and dedication.

“He goes above and beyond,” she said. “If you could put almost a perfect label on somebody, it is Lee. He definitely delivers the brand of the post office, and we’re proud to have him with the postal service.”

Ernst added that she has never received a complaint about Lee, other than when customers complained that he was off, which wasn’t much.

The post office said goodbye with a small party before the post office opened Feb. 23.

Supervisor Ken Fite came in from his vacation to say goodbye.

“He will definitely be missed,” Fite said. “Missed at work, but I’m going to keep in touch for sure.

“I don’t envy who will take his route afterward.”

Ernst added that Lee trained many of the newer postal workers, so she knows they will all be successful.

Other retired postal workers also made their way to Clawson for the big send-off.

Lee was quick to deflect any attention and said that he couldn’t do his job without the support of a great team of coworkers, supervisors and the support of the United States Postal Service. He said the office runs so smoothly that it made it easy for him to do a good job.

“It starts with the supervision, and I’m not just saying that,” he said. “They give us everything we need to do our job, along with everybody in here.

“This has just been my life. It’s just been so special. It will be a great void, but I know I have friends for life.”

Lee said his job went beyond a paycheck, and everyone in the office has impacted his life in one way or another.

“I say many times I should be working for nothing,” he said. “Everybody has been just so good to me here. I hope that everyone who retires feels the way I do.”