When Clyde E. Weeks began serving as Orem's postmaster, Harry S. Truman was president. A first-class letter could be mailed across the country for 3 cents. And the city had just 8,500 residents.
Times change. Weeks, who may have been the last politically appointed postmaster serving in the United States, retired Friday after 39 years of ensuring that neither "snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night" stayed his couriers "from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."He'll be honored at an open house Thursday, Dec. 6, from 4 to 7 p.m. in the multipurpose room of the Orem City Center.
Weeks was the news editor of the Orem-Geneva Times in 1951 when he was nominated by President Truman to be Orem's postmaster. Political appointment of postmasters was eliminated in 1971 when the Postal Service was reformed.
"Prior to 1971 you had to be a resident of the town where you wanted to be postmaster," Weeks said. "They wanted someone well-known and well-acquainted with the community."
When Weeks began his job, Orem's post office was on the northwest corner of Center and State streets, where McDonald's now stands. There were three rural mail delivery routes. Letter carriers either used their own cars or rode bicycles to distribute mail around the city.
"That (using bicycles) was not a very good idea because it was such a big city," Weeks said.
Weeks guided two relocations of the post office and got the process started for a third move before he retired.
During Weeks' years of service, the amount of mail delivered in Orem swelled to 20 times the 1951 volume. The Orem Post Office now serves about 70,000 people via 40 mail routes and with a staff of 87 employees.
Post office workers and patrons "are going to miss him," said Mary Krissman, a former window clerk who worked in the Orem office for 27 years. "Whatever he did, it was always for the best. He is all for the post office and that is it. He took darn good care of it."
Weeks, who is known as a "tireless worker," held several positions in professional organizations and in 1988 served a six-month assignment at the U.S. Postal Service Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He worked on several new postal retail programs and helped write a new postal retail handbook.
Bill Clegg, superintendent of postal operations in Orem, said Weeks "poured his life into the postal service and the community.
Weeks' civic service extends back to 1947, when former Mayor J.W. Gillman asked him to reopen the city library, which had closed during World War II. He helped start the Orem Boosters Club in 1950, serving for five years as the club's president and as a board member. He covered City Council meetings for the Orem Geneva Times for 30 years. Weeks served for 34 years as a member of the SCERA's board of directors. And, he wrote two books chronicling local history - one on the Orem Post Office and one on Orem called "Sagebrush to Steel - An Orem Centennial History."
"He's always been Mr. Orem," said Merrie Cristy Hudson, Weeks' daughter. "I think the city is going to be lost without him."
Weeks will miss the "daily interchange with my employees and customers," - the requests for help on everything from where to find miniature cucumbers for pickling to how to find a former acquaintance a person served with in World War II.
Of course, there is one request he won't miss: requests on April 16 to put an April 15 postmark on tax returns. "I have to categorically deny such requests," he said.