Longtime post office employee closes chapter, looks to future
Cathy Shryock was all smiles earlier this week as she greeted a customer at the front counter of the U.S. Post Office in Steamboat Springs in much the same way she has the past three decades.
“(The post office) allows anyone to reach anyone else in the world for a minimum amount,” Shryock said. “You can mail an international letter for $1.30, and that’s just incredible to me. If your relative lives 10 miles down a dirt lane, the post office is still going to take care of them — and I think that’s really important.”
Shryock’s final day at her post was Tuesday, April 12, ending a career that began 38 years ago in her hometown of Mokena, Illinois, where she started as a route driver.
Shryock had held jobs at a soil consulting business and a restaurant. She said she took the job at the post office because it was a great way to earn the money she needed to go back college, where she was hoping to pursue a degree in veterinarian science.
“I went to the post office thinking it would just be a temp job, and I’ll go back to school,” Shryock said. “That never happened.”
After three years working as a route driver, Shryock accepted a position as a city carrier in nearby Worth, Illinois. In 1993, she decided to move west, taking a job in Craig before a position in Steamboat opened up.
Many things have changed since Shryock started in Steamboat Springs.
“We didn’t use tracking numbers on packages, and we didn’t get the same volume of packages that we get today,” she recalled. “We would get a lot more letter-type mail, and now we get a lot less letters and a lot more packages.”
While the workload has changed, her love of the job has never faded — not even during the Christmas rush.
Shryock said she takes pride knowing that if grandma sends a letter or a gift and there happens to be a problem, she or someone like her will be there to do whatever they can to get that card or gift delivered.
“I’ve always been very content to be behind the scenes or to work with the public up at the window,” Shryock said. “The customers might not see it, (but) we’re doing what we can do to get them their things in the back, and that’s a good feeling.”
Shryock said she will miss working behind the counter and seeing all the customers she has come to know.
“Steamboat is just a really friendly town,” Shryock said. “We have amazing customers that come to our counters every day, and so it’s nice to be able to have that interaction.”
As she enters the next chapter in her life, Shryock is excited and maybe a little scared. She plans to stay in Steamboat, and she said there is plenty on her plate to keep her busy.
“I have some things I definitely want to take on,” said Shryock, who has long been a coach in local 4-H programs. “I haven’t had the time to work with the kids for a while. Now I’m back to working with the 4-H dog kids, and that truly makes me smile and brightens my heart.”
Shryock has a long-standing love of dogs. She owns four and trains three that compete in agility competitions in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. She is hoping to venture out to a few more competitions this year and expand her range and her horizons.
“I did buy a fifth-wheel camper a few years ago, and so the dogs and I’ll hit the road,” Shryock said of her plans. “My husband will retire shortly, and if he chooses to join us, great, and if he chooses to stay home and go fishing, that’s great, too.”
Interim postmaster Denise Null said Shryock will be missed.
“We’re sorry to lose her, but you know, she’s got more adventures ahead and lots of things to do and places to go,” Null said. “We’re happy for her.”
Shryock is also hoping to spend some more time in the kitchen, and she plans to make the most of her upcoming adventures.
“I actually really liked to cook, and I’ve been neglecting my skills in the kitchen. I want to read some more, and maybe I’ll find a new hobby out there,” Shryock said. “There’s a lot of things out there that piqued my curiosity, and I just never had the time to do it. I want to just broaden my horizons, and as they say, I don’t want to get to the end of my life and only live the length of it. I want to have lived the width of my life, too.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.