Going the extra mile

Longtime postal worker honored as postmaster of the year

September 5, 2011 

Horse aficionado Roy Brown was the youngest of 11 children growing up in what was once rural Burton.

Today, he continues to train and offer horse riding instruction, but most notably he's overseen U.S. Post offices in a four-county area for the past 35 years.

Whether he's delivering honey bees, live chickens or a letter, Brown goes the last mile in his job as postmaster for St. Helena Island. The 61-year-old postmaster recently received the Olin D. Johnston Award as the South Carolina Postmaster of the Year from the National Association of Postmasters of the United States. An oversized silver trophy sits at the front counter of the St. Helena post office for the honor.

Brown enthusiastically recited his office's motto: "We try to deliver every piece, every day."

As St. Helena postmaster for the past year, Brown has helped ensure more than 4,600 people (1,200 mailboxes) on seven routes get their mail, with the help of about a dozen employees. Brown has personally delivered mail on every route.

As postmaster, Brown said he gets to meet lots of people, one of the things he enjoys about the job. Sometimes when customers stop by the office, Brown might recognize them first by address or post office box, then by name.

Brown also has been a key player in "the last mile" program, in which U.S. Postal Service employees deliver UPS and FedEx packages the last mile, one new way to increase postal service profits.

"We go by everybody's house every day, so why not?" Brown said.

Brown certainly knows the Lowcountry. For more than 35 years, Brown has served as postmaster in four counties: Beaufort, Jasper, Colleton and Hampton where he worked for 20 years.

Brown was a graduate of Robert Smalls High School during the first year of integration. He was among the first graduates of the Emergency Medical Technician class of Beaufort Tech (now Technical College of the Lowcountry) with Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen, Jasper County Coroner Martin Sauls and the late Asa Godowns, who was deputy director of Beaufort County EMS.

Brown served in the Navy during Vietnam. Upon returning home, he sought steady work at the U.S. Postal Service in the early 1970s while he served in the National Guard for 15 years.

LOVE OF HORSES

The Brown children's love of horses came from their work on Pulaski's farm in Burton where they learned to round up the cows on horseback.

Horses continue to be a part of Brown's life. Saturdays are spent riding horses in parades as far away as Washington, D.C., to area festivals and rodeos or with area youth. Brown is a member of the Carolina Cowboys, a group of about 25 men and women from four counties based in Ridgeland who enjoy horseback riding. The group takes trail rides and mentors underprivileged children to teach them about the history and culture of horseback riding as well as how to ride and care for horses.

Brown, a father of two, works with the cowboys as a mentor with children in after-school tutoring programs. He works to get the children and their parents on horseback.

A member of the Carolina Cowboys, Brown has been known to fire up an outdoor grill to cook up collard greens, lima beans, ribs, chicken and macaroni and cheese -- sometimes serving up to 500 people during a three-day event.

Part of the work of the Cowboys is to encourage youth through its Say No To Drugs Team. Brown will join Citizens Against Violence Everywhere to encourage children to stay out of trouble at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 at New Hope Christian Church in Burton. Details: Herbert Glaze, 843-812-3102; Roy Brown, 843-441-2173

"It is a means of giving back to the children," Brown said of his volunteer work. "I feel that they need to learn the culture."

He wants children to know about important historical figures such as Bill Pickett, the first black cowboy who invented the bulldogging technique and was inducted into the National Rodeo Cowboy Hall of Fame, and the buffalo soldiers, black cavalry soldiers in the Civil War. He also wants to show the children a way to unwind without the use of drugs.

"The horses bring the gentleness and calmness out in the children," Brown said. "The children are more relaxed around horses."

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