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The Chillicothe Voice

Chillicothe’s Hometown Hero – The Messenger: Devoted • Essential

Feb 23, 2024 02:24PM ● By Gary Sharp

Contrary to popular belief, love by itself does not make the world go round. Although love is a very vital and necessary staple to the happiness and well being of trillions of mother earth’s tenants, the transference of the written word from one’s thoughts to another’s eyes, heart, and intellect, through a highly technical network of automated delivery systems, is paramount. And the cherry on top is the personal human hand touch to each letter delivered to your mail box. The act of moving knowledge, information, best wishes, bills and payouts, birthdays, anniversary cards, and baby shower invites comes first and you better not forget!  

Enter the foot soldier of calmness, the letter carrier, who gently moves the world whether we like it or not and probably does not get enough recognition or appreciation for their public service that brings to our busy lives, some assembly of continuity and order. Mail carriers have always been on a level playing field with all other public service groups and rightfully so. 

She was born to Richard and Sheila Langdon on October 26, 1977 at Methodist Hospital in Peoria, IL. They named her Mary Louise, the last child of a total of five including one brother Richard and three sisters Peggy, Lynn, and Lisa. Mary attended Rome and Mossville Grade Schools and graduated from IVC in 1995. Dad worked at Caterpillar 40 years and Mom was a CNA at Parkhill, Heritage Manor and, Proctor and proudly an EMT for Rescue 33. Thank you Sheila for your service. 

After a short stint at ICC Mary met her life’s partner Bud Wilkins, a handsome young welder, who worked at CMCO, now a laser operator at Fennell’s. They married in April of 2001. Together for 23 years, they raised two beautiful young ladies—Lanie, age 22, who is a Child Educator and works with kids after school and Gabrielle, 27, who graduated from Methodist Nursing recently. Mary was also a Foster Parent for two years. 

In 2007 her sister Peggy Bruce, an exceptional letter carrier in her own right, informed Mary of  applications for postal carriers and thus began a 17 year career for her in a field she loves dearly. Since then she has worked in Henry two years, Morton two years and Chillicothe. In May of 2016, while working a route in Chillicothe, she saw a small boy riding on a battery operated toy tractor in an alley and he was headed toward a very busy road way. Mary bolted from her mail truck, stopped an on coming truck and grabbed him up. In a safe area she noticed his face was bleeding from an injury but he could not tell her his name or where he lived. He could not speak. When police arrived, Mary helped search for his home and finally he was returned. “It’s part of the job. I love children and helping people,” says Mary. 

Now working in Chillicothe, covering most of the north end of the city for the last 12 years, she had the option to change her route but she said, “No. I love this route and my customers too much.” She covers her route of 55 miles a week by using the park and loop system and at times a mail bag can weigh 30lbs fully loaded. A pair of shoes lasts about 500 miles but it’s people like Mary Wilkins who make it all work. 

Mail carriers since before the Pharaohs, Greeks, Romans, and Ben Franklin in 1775 who was appointed the first Postmaster General by The Continental Congress to unite the 13 colonies with communication, have played such a vital role in all societies around the world. Neither snow nor rain nor heat or gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. This quote from the Greek historian Herodotus, was describing the messengers in the Greek and Persian wars in (500-449 BCE) in the fight for democracy and the 26 mile run from Marathon to Athens by a courier with news of victory. 

The Storm. Not long ago one day, in early January around 11:43am, millions of giant snowflakes fell slowly from a low grayish and milk white sky into a landscape rivaling one of the best of Norman Rockwell’s. But soon the mercury dropped to -6 and the old man arrived. Squinting through a south facing window, one could barely distinguish a slow moving human form about 83 yards out clothed in heavy blue hooded winter protection and boots. Bracing herself against a gusting northwest gale, in a scene of natures beauty, with a dedication to her public duty, she knows each step will bring her closer to her warm kitchen with hot soup and her three French Bulldogs—Frankie, Willow, and Hugh—who will want to cuddle when she gets home. Mary is one of many who provide to us our necessary correspondence daily, but she is one of a kind to her customers and for many of them who know her there is a wonderful bond of trust and mutual respect. These are traits and values she learned from her parents and grandparents that include a good work ethic and a desire to contribute to society the best way she knows how. 

She loves her job, she loves her customers, she loves her life and family, and she loves her puppies. Heck! I guess maybe love does make the world go round but one thing is for sure Mary’s a hero to a lot of people. There have been and always will be Hometown Heros in Chillicothe of different walks, occupations, and stature and now Mary Louise Wilkins, one of our finest ladies who really cares about others, joins those ranks. Thank you Mary, we do appreciate.