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Since 1976 Carlton DeLoach has been delivering mail throughout Alachua County, and he knows his route like the back of his hand.  But this will change in a few short weeks when he hangs up his mailbag for good after 36 years.

Every weekday morning at 6:30 a.m., Carlton DeLoach heads to the Alachua County post office, sorts the mail, ties it with a strap and carries it out to his truck.

DeLoach then gets into his tan Chevy S-10 pickup and spends the next five hours driving 80 miles throughout Alachua County.

He drives from Alachua to the Hare Krishna community, then to Lacrosse and Hague. He drives down tree-lined roads to reach Santa Fe, and then he comes back to County Road 239. His route takes him down dirt roads and paths lined with North Florida’s abundant wildlife.

DeLoach, 65, is called Buddy by almost everyone who knows him. He has delivered mail along this route for the United States Postal Service for 36 years – more than half his life. He will retire Nov. 2.

He wears round glasses and speaks with a slight twang. When he talks about his time at the post office, tears fill his eyes.

DeLoach said he was born and raised in Alachua County. He started as a mail carrier in 1976, when he was 29 years old and a first-class stamp cost 13 cents.

“I decided after that year I’d stick with it full time, and that’s what I’ve been doing since then,” he said.

He said he’s seen a lot of development in Alachua since the 1970s. When he started, there were two routes. There are nine routes today.

“Almost everything was agriculturally related back then,” he said. “It’s changed a lot.”

He said the popularity of Facebook and other social networking websites have decreased the amount of mail people send.

“Twenty years ago, you would’ve mailed a letter to your mother to tell her how you’re doing in school,” he said. “Everybody knows your business as well as you do.”

DeLoach’s wife, Elizabeth, said he makes a personal connection with the people he serves.

“Everybody knows who he is,” she said.

She said customers often call Buddy’s home number to tell him that they’re going on vacation and need their mail held.

“He can talk,” she said. “That’s why his customers like him so much.”

Elizabeth said she knows Buddy will miss his route once he’s done.

“What they’re going to miss about him the most down at the post office is his mother’s pound cakes,” she said, laughing.

He said his coworkers were surprised when they heard the news.

“They thought I was going to be there forever, I think,” he said. “Probably die on the job or something.”

DeLoach doesn’t know how many miles he’s traveled, but he received an award for one million accident-free miles three years ago.

Karen Avinger has known DeLoach for close to 40 years. Avinger, who lives right outside of Alachua, is on DeLoach’s postal route. She said he’s always been friendly.

“If we ever had any complaints, he would always try to take care of the problem,” she said. “He went out of his way to try to be helpful.”

She said he’d bring mail to her front door when after her husband had surgery.

“He’s really a caring person,” she said.

When asked what he’ll do once he’s retired, DeLoach laughed and said he’d spend his free time on his farm with his horses, donkeys, mules and dogs, and “Whatever my wife wants me to do.”

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Email astewart@alachuatoday.com

W_-_Postman_DSCF7296_copy

Since 1976 Carlton DeLoach has been delivering mail throughout Alachua County, and he knows his route like the back of his hand.  But this will change in a few short weeks when he hangs up his mailbag for good after 36 years.

Every weekday morning at 6:30 a.m., Carlton DeLoach heads to the Alachua County post office, sorts the mail, ties it with a strap and carries it out to his truck.

DeLoach then gets into his tan Chevy S-10 pickup and spends the next five hours driving 80 miles throughout Alachua County.

He drives from Alachua to the Hare Krishna community, then to Lacrosse and Hague. He drives down tree-lined roads to reach Santa Fe, and then he comes back to County Road 239. His route takes him down dirt roads and paths lined with North Florida’s abundant wildlife.

DeLoach, 65, is called Buddy by almost everyone who knows him. He has delivered mail along this route for the United States Postal Service for 36 years – more than half his life. He will retire Nov. 2.

He wears round glasses and speaks with a slight twang. When he talks about his time at the post office, tears fill his eyes.

DeLoach said he was born and raised in Alachua County. He started as a mail carrier in 1976, when he was 29 years old and a first-class stamp cost 13 cents.

“I decided after that year I’d stick with it full time, and that’s what I’ve been doing since then,” he said.

He said he’s seen a lot of development in Alachua since the 1970s. When he started, there were two routes. There are nine routes today.

“Almost everything was agriculturally related back then,” he said. “It’s changed a lot.”

He said the popularity of Facebook and other social networking websites have decreased the amount of mail people send.

“Twenty years ago, you would’ve mailed a letter to your mother to tell her how you’re doing in school,” he said. “Everybody knows your business as well as you do.”

DeLoach’s wife, Elizabeth, said he makes a personal connection with the people he serves.

“Everybody knows who he is,” she said.

She said customers often call Buddy’s home number to tell him that they’re going on vacation and need their mail held.

“He can talk,” she said. “That’s why his customers like him so much.”

Elizabeth said she knows Buddy will miss his route once he’s done.

“What they’re going to miss about him the most down at the post office is his mother’s pound cakes,” she said, laughing.

He said his coworkers were surprised when they heard the news.

“They thought I was going to be there forever, I think,” he said. “Probably die on the job or something.”

DeLoach doesn’t know how many miles he’s traveled, but he received an award for one million accident-free miles three years ago.

Karen Avinger has known DeLoach for close to 40 years. Avinger, who lives right outside of Alachua, is on DeLoach’s postal route. She said he’s always been friendly.

“If we ever had any complaints, he would always try to take care of the problem,” she said. “He went out of his way to try to be helpful.”

She said he’d bring mail to her front door when after her husband had surgery.

“He’s really a caring person,” she said.

When asked what he’ll do once he’s retired, DeLoach laughed and said he’d spend his free time on his farm with his horses, donkeys, mules and dogs, and “Whatever my wife wants me to do.”

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