Gary Fultz has left the fold, and the Mammoth Lakes Post Office will not be the same.
The convivial postmaster served his last day in Mammoth this week. Next, he and his wife Kristin will tow their sports trailer back to Ludington, Mich., which they left five years ago for a life in the Sierra Nevada.
â€śWeâ€™d never even heard of Mammoth Lakes until the job came up,â€ť Fultz said. â€śIn fact, all the people in Ludington were kind of upset I took it, because I was the one in line for the postmasterâ€™s job there.â€ť
Fultz will turn 55 on Monday, the retirement age for postal workers.
â€śThirty-three years is enough,â€ť he said.
Among his accomplishments was facilitating the Post Office Beautification Project, which was organized by volunteer Elizabeth Tenney.
â€ťBeautifying our sadly neglected post office would not have been possible without Garyâ€™s willing dedication and assistance,â€ť she said.
â€śGary was right out there with the volunteers, pulling weeds and doing clean-up. He really cared.â€ť
He leaves the mountains and the camping and the skiing behind, but he also leaves behind a world of good will, especially among the postal workers.
On Tuesday, Shanda Duro could hardly hold back tears.
â€śI canâ€™t believe heâ€™s leaving on Thursday,â€ť she said. â€śHeâ€™s been so good for us.â€ť
Craig Hansen, the proprietor of Mammoth Business Essentials, has worked in quasi-cooperation with Fultz for the past five years.
â€śWeâ€™ve always worked well with each other,â€ť Hansen said. â€śGaryâ€™s done a lot of help to us.â€ť
â€śWeâ€™ve never gone postal on each other.â€ť
In his last week, Fultz had the usual pileup of mail in front of him â€“ a three-day avalanche caused by the Presidents Day holiday. On Tuesday, the usual pile of 20,000 to 30,000 pieces was at 70,000, but he broke away for an interview and lunch with friends.
Some friends at the restaurant stopped by his table to say goodbye, and all was warm and cordial.
One suspects it will be warm and cordial back in Ludington, too â€“ a hunting-fishing snowsports town on the Northern Lake Michigan shore.
Of Mammoth, though, Fultz promised that weâ€™ll be seeing him again from time to time.
â€śI love this country,â€ť he said of Mammoth and the High Sierra.
â€śIâ€™ll be back.â€ť