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Cedar Key Postmaster Retires

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By Warren Parkin

After 34 years of dedication, Cedar Key Postmaster Annette Kordgien retired from the United States Postal Service Oct. 1.

Being Postmaster of Cedar Key was a great way to finish out her decades long career, Annette said. “I’m especially grateful for Cedar Key being my last job. The people welcomed me. They were so nice. They accepted me.”

The friendliness of Cedar Key made her job fulfilling, she said. “I was humbled by the way people treated me the entire time. I could not have found another place that I’d rather retire from. It was a nice way to end a career because the people were so nice,” she said. “You get to know people and you get to have lasting relationships with them.”

 Annette grew up in Williston, where she began her postal service career, raised her children and continues to reside. Yet in Cedar Key, she says, she found another home. “Even now, when I go across the number 4 bridge I think, gosh, I’m home.”

Although home mail delivery is available in Cedar Key, Sumner and Rosewood, many people choose to maintain a post office box due to the social component of retrieving one’s mail. “Some people prefer to get their mail at the post office. It’s a social center. You meet and greet people, see your friends and neighbors. A lot of people come by every day. That’s part of their life, their daily routine.”

Thirty-four Years of Service

Annette looks back on her years of service with fondness and pride. “I’ve always loved the postal service.”  She dates her interest to childhood when she would get the mail for her grandmother at the Bronson post office where her aunt worked. “I loved watching them. They were so nice and so helpful.”

When Annette was 27 she applied for nursing school and for a job at the post office. She received her acceptance letter and the job offer the same day. She had to choose one because she couldn’t do both. “I’ve never regretted working for the Postal Service.” Annette worked as a clerk at the Williston Post Office for 26 ½ years. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Williston. It’s my home. It was the place I grew up.”

She appreciates the learning opportunities that she received during her career. “One of the best things in my life was the Post office because it helped me grow as a person and helped me understand human nature and interaction with people.” She especially liked the opportunity to help others. “They appreciate you. They depend on you to do your job. You try to meet their expectation.”

Annette describes the role of Postmaster as freighted with trust and responsibility. “You are responsible for the sanctity and the security of the mail.” In the same breath she states that this responsibility comes with rewards. “It’s the little things that you do that make the job worthwhile. It’s the interaction you have with the people, with the community, because you help them. And that helps you.”

Prior to becoming Postmaster of Cedar Key, Annette served as Postmaster of Graham and Holder. She was also the Officer in Charge, a position that carries the responsibilities of an interim Postmaster without the title, in Graham, Yankeetown, Chiefland and Homassassa.

  

Wigs and Disguises

For a couple of years postal duties required Annette to don a variety of wigs, hats, make-up, and clothing to disguise her appearance. She was a “Mystery Shopper” for 39 different post offices, visiting once a month to ensure that quality, knowledgeable, and courteous service was being delivered to customers.

“That was a fun thing to do,” she said. “It’s important that we make sure we’re giving customers what they need and what they deserve.” Given that she has a strong southern accent, she had to be careful not to give away her identity. She would change her voice, at times pretending to be hoarse. “Sometimes I was more Southern than other times.”

She wishes that more of the public understood that the U.S. Postal Service is self-funded. “A lot of people don’t know that we don’t use tax dollars at all. The money that the Post Office makes is strictly through the services we sell. We have to be self-sufficient.”

 

Retirement Plans

Annette has many plans for retirement and is interested in how they will work out. “I thought I was going to get caught up on 34 years of sleep, but I haven’t done that yet.”

She and her husband Ernst (Ernie) Kordgien have been married for 36 years. Ernst retired from the Levy County School Board Sept. 30 where he worked for 40 years, first as a math teacher and coach and then as an administrator, mainly in Williston. He ended his four decades of service as the principal of Williston Middle School.

The couple has bred dachshunds for more than a decade. “I like dachshunds. My first dachshund I had for 18 years,” she said. Annette also has a particular fondness for German shepherds, which she and her husband bred for many years. For now, the focus is on the smaller dogs, but they still have a German shepherd that helps out with the puppies, looking after them and even bringing them food, she said.

They also manage a small herd of two to three dozen heads of beef.

The couple plans to move to a 40 acre property that they own in the Williston area where they will continue to farm beef, breed dogs, plant gardens, can food and live the simple life.  “I guess you could say, we want to get back in touch with nature.” Annette says that these plans could change, but views the future as being full of promise. “The thing of it is, you just don’t stop. There’s always an adventure out there.”

Their children are raised and engaged in lives of their own. Jonathan, a father of five, is stationed at Patrick Air Force Base near Cocoa. Jennifer recently graduated from the University of Florida in Agricultural Education, attending the same school where her father prepared his bachelor degree in education and a Master’s in Education Administration. Both of the children graduated from Williston High School, as did Annette and her mother Velvehree Griffis Boals.

Regardless of her work status, Annette will continue to live her life in a way that helps others, she said. “You try to do the best that you can for everyone. You try to treat other people the way you want to be treated. That’s how I’ve tried to live my life because we’re all in it together and we should help each other.”

Annette enjoyed all of her career but was especially happy to return to Levy County and serve as Postmaster of Cedar Key. “I was glad to start in Levy County and return to Levy County to finish and retire from here because that’s where it’s at. To me, Levy County is God’s country.”