Local News

Chapel Hill mail carrier honored for service

Posted April 21, 2009 7:19 p.m. EDT

— Rudy Tempesta, of Chapel Hill, has been delivering the mail for 63 years. At 83, he is the oldest mail carrier in the state and one of the oldest in the country, according to the U.S. Postal Service.

On Tuesday, Tempesta was honored for his decades of service without a motor vehicle wreck. Tempesta was one of four Chapel Hill mail carriers inducted into the National Safety Council’s Million Mile Club – the highest honor given to professional drivers in the workplace.

Also inducted into the club were mail carriers Ed Cooper, Joe Crawford and David Rutter.

To be eligible to receive the award, workers must have traveled at least 30 years without a preventable motor vehicle accident. This is the second time Tempesta has received the award.

Tempesta began his career with the postal service after returning from World War II, where he completed 21 missions and earned countless medals.

At one point, the New York native’s route included the Empire State Building.

Of all the letters he has received, one from a young girl – Julia Daugherty – after Sept. 11, 2001 stands out above the rest. Tempesta said the girl was worried about mail carriers and anthrax.

“She captured my heart,” Tempesta said.

Daugherty, now 18, was among those that attended Tuesday’s ceremony at Chapel Hill’s Main Post Office, 125 S. Estes St.

“I know we are going to stay friends for a long time,” Daugherty said.

Daugherty said Tempesta plans to attend her graduation and stay in touch after she leaves for college.

Despite his many years of service, Tempesta said he has no plans to retire.

“I think that’s the way you do it. Don’t sit home and moan and groan about your pain, get out there, do something,” Tempesta said.