More than 50 people gathered at the Mineral County Fairgrounds 4-H Building to wish Frances Higgs farewell at her retirement party on Saturday in Superior. After 40 years of delivering mail in and around Superior, Frances has decided to hang up her United States Postal Service mail bag. She just turned 80 years old, and works by a contract that is renewed every six years. If she were to renew it, she would be working until she was 86, said Superior Postmaster Liz Asay.
Frances, a beloved member of the Superior community, was surrounded by friends on Saturday, June 30, which is officially the last day of her contract. Wearing a mock princess crown and retirement sash, people were giving Higgs hugs as she smiled and posed for photos. The three-man band Eagles Nest played while people ate cake and other treats.
Asay gave a speech praising Higgs’ work ethic. “She was never late, and always showed up for work even if she was sick or the weather was bad,” Asay said. Truly living up to the Postal Service motto, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
In the 40 years she worked for the post office, Frances didn’t have one accident. The closest she came to one was when her car went into a ditch while swerving to miss a deer. “She was so dependable,” said Asay. “She worked six days a week, Monday through Saturday, and rarely took a day off.”
Higgs a ‘saint ... incredible person’
The district manager of the Dakotas-Montana District, Douglas Stephens, sent Frances an official commendation and recognition letter, a ceramic eagle and a 40 year pin for her years of service to the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS National magazine also featured her in an article and she has received cards from all over the country wishing her a happy retirement.
“She’s a saint. Just an incredible person,” said Lance Foster, who was married to Frances’ daughter, who has since passed away. “She has done more for me and other folks than anyone else I know. She’s always been there for me. She is always doing things for other, like when I was a logger, she would get up at 3 a.m. and make us a beautiful meal. She really took care of us.”
Frances’ generosity and kindness was mentioned several times during the afternoon.
“She is the kindest and most generous person I have ever encountered,” said Jacque Becker, who retired from the Post Office last December. “I’ve never seen anybody give as much as she does. She remembers everybody’s birthday with cards and gifts.”
Diane Magone, who was raised in Superior, said Higgs knows all the people on her route, and would often check up on them. She would even stop and pick up apples that had fallen from their tree in the fall. “I’m going to miss her,” Magone said.
Special framed photo
Jim Burwasser also presented Frances with a framed photo with a scene of Superior in the 1930s entitled, “Francie’s First Day of Work 1978.” “I got this from an FBI agent who was doing surveillance work in the area,” he joked.
Burwasser, along with a few other members of the Community Church in Superior, helped Frances with deliveries during the final month of her contract after she lost her employee.
The Superior route is more than 100 miles with nearly 430 customers, with two people covering the mail deliveries. Jen Zimmerman has been hired to replace Frances, and she hired Lisa Jones to help with one of the routes with John Scanagatta to help with Friday and Saturday deliveries. Zimmerman, who lives near Alberton, has previous mail delivery experience.
The first thing Fran plans on doing is to go see her sister in Colorado, who she hasn’t visited in over six years. Otherwise, she plans on getting projects done around her house, and just relaxing. The thing she is going to miss the most “are all these people,” she said, looking around the room.