Marlene Stieve retired from the U.S. Postal Service May 4.

Marlene Stieve retired from the U.S. Postal Service May 4.

Photo provided by Marlene Stieve

Rochester postal worker retires after over 50 years on the job

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 22, 2022


ROCHESTER HILLS — Rochester resident Marlene Stieve had always planned to be a teacher, but all that changed after she took a temporary job with the U.S. Postal Service for the holidays.

“I hired in as Christmas help — because I was going to be a teacher— but the more I saw money coming in, after that, I just stayed,” she said.

Stieve was initially hired by the Postal Service in 1971 as a substitute postal window clerk — a job she stuck with for nearly five decades.

Although she never became a teacher in a traditional classroom, Stieve was able to put her education background to use by orchestrating post office tours for the local school district’s second graders for 15 years and leading the children’s choir at her church for 25 years.

Stieve has seen just about everything one can imagine from her post in the front lobby of the Rochester Hills post office on Olde Town Road, from long lines out the door at Christmastime to rowdy customers.

“I’ve been at the windows when somebody has fainted and I’ve had to call paramedics,” she said.

Stieve has waited on many notable people during her tenure, including Barry Sanders and Ted Lindsay.

“Barry Sanders used to come in a lot, but the nicest guy was Ted Lindsay, the hockey player,” she said.

She recalls helping former science teacher Sharon Newman Bordine send in her application for NASA’s “Teacher in Space” program in 1985. Bordine was ultimately selected as the runner-up for Christa McAuliffe’s seat on the space shuttle Challenger, which broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven of its passengers.

Stieve says she’s thankful Bordine — who was later chosen to serve as a NASA Space Ambassador, visiting high schools and science classes, radio and television shows, and even the White House to help promote the space program — wasn’t on the shuttle.

After over 50 years of building connections in the community, Stieve herself has become a local celebrity of sorts.

“I was at an estate sale and this neighbor said, ‘You look so familiar. Where do I know you from?’ I get that all the time. The other day I was with my sister doing some garage sales or estate sales and my niece said, ‘Mom, everybody is looking at us.’ And my sister said, ‘That’s because they are wondering where they know your aunt Marlene from,’” she said with a chuckle.

Postal customers often opted to wait in line longer specifically for Stieve, so they could chat and catch up while she handled their mailings.

“I would often hear people say, ‘Oh, I’m waiting for her.’ Sometimes I would look out and I’d know every single person in line,” she said. “I’ve gone to their graduation parties, their birthday parties and their weddings — you just feel like part of their family.”

After over five decades of service, Stieve retired from the U.S. Postal Service May 4.

“She knows hundreds of people, of course,” said Stieve’s friend, Barbara Harris. “They are all probably wondering what’s happened to her.”

Nowadays, Stieve looks forward to checking her own mail — which is stuffed full of congratulatory letters from friends and customers as they learn of her retirement.

“I just got a letter from a lady thanking me for my service and everything,” she said. “I waited on her when she was pregnant with her two kids, and now they are in their 40s and 50s, so it’s almost like a second family.”

Stieve has big plans for her retirement  and plans to spend her free days gardening, playing golf and pickleball, riding her bicycle, going to estate sales, singing for the Jackson Chorale and at her church, volunteering, visiting the elderly, spending time with her siblings, and much more.

“I will not run out of things to do,” she said.