Norman Bouwie II has left the building.
The veteran Hillsboro postmaster retired Friday after 16 years on the job. He had worked as a postmaster in Wichita for 16 years before coming to Hillsboro.
The U.S. Postal Service offered him early retirement.
“There was an opportunity and I took it,” Bouwie said.
The active Hillsboro Lyons Club member said he came to town after a re-organization in Wichita. He was placed here and took his job seriously from day one.
“My work ethic was, I was always here,” Bouwie said. “I came when I was supposed to, and sometimes I came when I shouldn’t have.”
Bouwie began working for the postal service in 1977 after serving three years in the U.S. Army.
Five years later he earned a finance degree with an accounting minor from Wichita State University.
After 32 years, he walked out of the door as postmaster for the final time.
“When you work somewhere for 16 years there are bound to be some mixed emotions,” Bouwie said. “But my head is clear. I am confident I made the right decision. I will let God lead the way.”
Bouwie said the postal service has drastically changed since his first day on the job 32 years ago.
“It was totally different,” Bouwie said. “Machines have replaced people. I go back to the Wichita plant and I can’t tell you anything about it. And I worked there for 16 years.”
He said it has been an adjustment for the postal industry to keep up with technology.
“It is fast-paced and ever-changing,” Bouwie said. “It’s about speed and accuracy. The Internet has caused a changing environment.”
However, Bouwie never slowed down. He enjoyed the hard work, followed the rules to a tee, and liked seeing community members and fellow employees on a daily basis.
“I had a good working relationship with my employees,” he said.
Now it’s time for him to take the summer off and concentrate on family.
“I haven’t had a summer off in 35 years,” he said.
However, it isn’t as if Bouwie will be sitting on the couch watching television all day.
He is the president of a family reunion taking place in July, does work on the side as a tax preparer, and volunteers time at his church’s food pantry.
What is most exciting to him however, isn’t any kind of work.
“I have some grandkids I will spend some time with,” he said with a laugh.
Bouwie isn’t sure where his path will lead after the summer, but said he would like to use his degree to find a job in Wichita that wouldn’t require a long drive.
For now, he is trying to get used to some new experiences.
A few hours before a farewell party for him Friday at the post office, Bouwie and everyone else in Hillsboro awaited the biggest snow storm of the season.
“Why did it have to snow on my last day,” he said with a laugh.
Who knows? Maybe someone was trying to keep him in Hillsboro one more day.
“I feel comfortable what I did was right,” Bouwie said. “I ran my course. I ran the race. I think I did a good job.”