Postmaster looks to retirement

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 28, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; Charles Merritt and his wife, Carol, fell in love with Natchez 10 years ago, and they’re not ready to move yet.

He is ready, however, to sharpen his golf game.

Yes, after 10 years as Natchez’s postmaster and 38 total years with the U.S. Postal Service, Merritt will retire effective Jan. 3.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I’ve enjoyed my tenure here, Š but I’m happy about retiring. I’m glad I’ve reached this stage in my life,&uot; said Merritt, 56.

It’s been a long and winding road, to say the least.

After leaving the U.S. Marine Corps in 1964 &045; he served in Vietnam, Europe and the Mediterranean &045; Merritt was searching for something to do with his life.

That is when a friend told him about the postal exam that was being given on the base.

Merritt took it, made a 98.5 out of 100, and has been with the Postal Service ever since, going wherever there was an opportunity to advance.

The Nashville native started his postal career in Atlanta, then traveled to Nashville, Memphis, Tenn., Houston, back to Memphis, Tupelo, Greenwood and, finally, Natchez.

The Mississippi Delta town where he was postmaster &uot;was a little too flat for me. I knew there was a position here. My wife and I visited, and I was so fascinated by the history and the beauty of the town,&uot; Merritt said.

It didn’t hurt that his wife, a social studies and history teacher at Robert Lewis Middle School, is also a history buff.

Merritt has seen a lot of history within the Postal Service as well, working his way up from mail processing to investigation to human resources to postmaster.

Since he started working for what was then called the U.S. Postal Department, Merritt has seen the quasi-public agency go from strictly manual handling of mail to a more efficient automated system.

Many of those changes have taken place just in the last 10 years. Although most mail is already processed and sorted at the Jackson postal center, such automation gets the mail back to Natchez, &uot;which allows us to get a larger volume of mail out on the street faster,&uot; Merritt said.

&uot;Fast&uot; is also the word Merritt uses to describe his time here.

&uot;It’s gone by a lot faster than I expected,&uot; he said. &uot;I’ve enjoyed it here and met some good people.&uot;

He has met many of those friends through his civic and community service activities. Merritt is a past president of the Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority.

He was twice a member of the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce’s board and is currently a member of the NAPAC Board and the Natchez Planning Commission. He has also served on the boards of several youth-related organizations.

Merritt plans to stay involved in the community during the rest of his time in Natchez. Although he and his wife are considering moving back to Nashville at some point, Merritt said they will probably stay in Natchez at least another year.

That will give Merritt the chance to do some of that landscaping work he hasn’t had the time to complete &045; and, of course, to work on his beloved golf game.

His golf buddies, he said, &uot;Have been put on notice.&uot;