Mundelein postmaster bids adieu; ‘always felt this was my home’
After 25 years as postmaster of Mundelein, Mary Connolly's friends and coworkers threw her a retirement party Friday morning. Friends since high school, Lena Torsiello hugs Mary before the start of the reception. | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Mary Connolly
HOMETOWN: Arlington Heights
OCCUPATION: Retiring after 25 years as postmaster of Mundelein
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “Succeed honestly, fail honestly”
Updated: July 8, 2012 8:05AM
Mary Connolly fought back tears as she said farewell to her employees after 25 years as Mundelein’s postmaster.
“I’m so overwhelmed by the number of people that are here that ‘thank you’ seems insufficient,” said Connolly, 57, speaking during a retirement party held for her at the Mundelein Post Office. “I always felt this was my home. It was the perfect place for me. I never wanted to leave.”
The many employees who attended Connolly’s farewell party expressed mutual feelings of admiration and respect. Employees gave Connolly a red ruby ring and earrings along with a framed photograph of the employees of the Mundelein post office and Vernon Hills branch, as well as a picture of her swearing in as postmaster 25 years ago. A framed red shirt with her name was also placed on the wall in the work room area of the Mundelein post office -- a tradition Connolly started years ago of putting the names of retired employees on the wall.
As Mundelein’s postmaster, Connolly was responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of both the Mundelein and Vernon Hills post offices, including overseeing the employees and supervisors, maintenance of the facilities, hiring and other personnel decisions, among other duties.
Patrick Sweeney. manager of the Vernon Hills Post Office, who has worked with Connolly for 23 years, called her a “mentor, counselor and guardian angel.”
‘Carry with me’
“Of all the sayings Mary has ever had, the one I will carry with me for the rest of my postal career is ‘Succeed honestly and fail honestly.’ I just hope that when my time comes to become a postmaster, wherever that may be, that I’m half the postmaster she was,” he said.
Sweeney talked about Connolly’s generosity and concern for her employees and dedication to the postal service. He said she sometimes would make breakfast or barbecue lunch for her employees and would give out gift cards to employees at Christmas time. She stressed employee safety and would award small prizes to employee teams who maintained good accident safety records.
Virginia White, a union steward for the American Postal Workers Union, said Connolly was always very fair in dealing with the employees and was always willing to work with them if there were issues or concerns.
“One of the things I admire most about your Mary is your compassion,” she said at the farewell gathering. “You have the most compassion of anyone I know.”
Connolly started her career with the postal service 40 years ago at a postal processing plant in River Grove. After 12 years working at that facility, she landed a job as superintendent of the Mundelein Post Office. Two years later, in 1987, she was promoted as Mundelein’s postmaster.
Connolly said she owes her career to her mother, who had been a postal worker and encouraged her to apply for her first job with the postal service nearly 40 years ago. “All that I am and all that I’ve become I owe to my mother,” she said.
The postal service is conducting a search for a new Mundelein postmaster and is expected to make a decision within the next few months.