- Our Sites
- The News-Gazette
- NewsTalk 1400 WDWS-AM
- Lite Rock 97.5 WHMS
- 107.9 WKIO
- Community News
PAXTON — Back when Ron Lantz was first starting in the postal business, stamps sold for under a quarter, gas was well under $2 per gallon and email was just beginning to have a practical use to the average American.
Nearly 30 years later, much has changed, but one constant at the post office in Paxton has been Lantz.
The longtime postal clerk will be retiring at the end of December.
“He has added great value to our postal service and will be greatly missed,” said Paxton Postmaster Tammy Lemley.
A graduate of Paxton High, Lantz had made his living on the family farm before he was hired in 1983 by former Postmaster Mike Arends, having passed a civil service test. Lantz began his work in the postal service as a city mail carrier and sometimes did both carrying and clerking in the same day.
“When you think of Ron, you think of someone who will be there every day,” said Arends, who enjoyed his friendship with Lantz over 18 years in the workplace. “He was very thorough and patient, and he had a good sense of humor. He’s the kind who will examine something from all aspects and would have (a concept) grasped more than most others.”
Lemley has also appreciated Lantz’ meticulous work as a clerk over her 12 years of employment, especially considering the amount of mail he has handled over three decades.
For example, during this Christmas season, the local post office receives 1,200 packages per week, along with any number of letters and flat-rate pieces. Lemley estimated that Lantz has handled well over 2 million pieces of mail from his window.
“Ron (Lantz) rarely makes mistakes,” Lemley said. “He frequently yet silently solves problems without any recognition, and he’s been extremely reliable.”
Along with his normal responsibilities, Lantz also served as officer in charge (OIC) for post offices in Ludlow and Buckley for short periods. Arends appreciated that Lantz could patiently work with newcomers who needed to learn the ins and outs of the Paxton office.
Lemley said her longtime employee enjoys watching old westerns on television, listening to classic country western and tending cattle and helping his brother on the farm.
Lantz is not an attention seeker and chose not to be interviewed for this story. But a few of those who worked with him the longest were happy to speak to his work and his care for others.
“I don’t see how you could not like Ron,” said Arends. “It seems Ron is related to half of this town, and he’s been around here all his life, so he knows everybody.”
Linda Carter worked 25 years as a postal clerk with Lantz and developed an appreciation for him on a level that far surpassed the nuts-and-bolts, work-related details of life.
“There were times when my car was in the shop, and he’d just hand me his car keys and say, ‘Do what you need to do; take my car,’” said Carter. “He has shown great concern for me as a friend. There’d be times when, after work in the work, he’d follow me to my childcare babysitter so I could pick up my two sons, and then he’d follow me home. He’d invite my boys to his farm to feed baby calves with a bottle. And all kids loved him.
“I’d see him loan money to people, and he’s done a lot of kind things that most people do not know about,” she continued. “When you work just about every day for 25 years, you’ll fight like brother and sister, but we got along well, and he has a great, dry sense of humor. He was a riot to work with.”
Perhaps the best story that Carter remembered about Lantz occurred while Lantz was on vacation — and it may also best illustrate how Lantz’s personality made the workplace a little more fun for her. It’s hard to put a price tag on a person’s meaning to a town; but in one instance Carter had a dollar figure to designate his value.
“One time, Ron went to Las Vegas and asked me if I’d want to send any money with him and play (the slots), and he hit the jackpot on the nickel machine,” she said.
“The morning he came back, he put a $20 on my desk, and then as the day went on he just kept dropping a bill on the desk, and it turned out he won $500 for me.”