Tom Millham retiring from post office
Few people would command a retirement party with comic Howie Nave and all-around funny man Paul Middlebrook as master of ceremonies.
But in some respects, Tom Millham isn’t your average guy – just a regular guy people in the community have come to respect.
After 22 years, the senior postal clerk in South Lake Tahoe will celebrate his last day on Friday. The end of a long career represents a celebration, new chapter and a melancholy time for a man who’s spent a few decades being active in the community. He’s run Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care and been involved with the Kiwanis Club for more than 30 years.
“We’ll miss you,” said Larry Stelmach, who was standing in line on Monday at the main branch of the post office on Al Tahoe Boulevard.
Millham has carried such an upstanding reputation that many have confused him as being the postmaster.
“I thought about being the postmaster. I’m just happy with the job I did. The main reason is I had too many things going with Kiwanis and Wildlife Care,” he said.
Millham has trained every clerk standing at the counter and will be remembered for his interesting hats brought out for Christmas, the post office’s busiest times.
“We’ll miss your hats,” rural carrier supervisor Janet Twyman said in their office.
Millham knows how the staff needs a little encouragement around Christmas. He started the South Shore postal job 10 days before Christmas, a sink-or-swim scenario a former Navy man could adapt to.
“It was a perfect time to throw me in there,” he said.
Before the post office civil service exam, he ran the marina now known as Camp Richardson with his wife, Cheryl — a woman whose family was connected to his since 1938.
“I dated other girls but never took my eyes off of her,” he said.
Millham has made a life for the longtime couple, also working as a mortician and for a horse trainer out of Santa Anita outside of Pasadena. “I didn’t think it was going to turn into this,” he said. He was the third applicant selected out of 600 people taking the test, he said.
At the time Millham started his postal career, a book of stamps cost $4.40. Now, it runs $8.20.
A lot has happened with the U.S. Postal Service over the last 23 years. Among them, express mail services was a new concept and the term “going postal” wasn’t. Millham said he was never offended by the term describing violent workers.
Millham plans to enjoy life. He wants to hike, ride a bike, ski and snowblow his driveway. “I’ve never been able to experience and appreciate Lake Tahoe,” he said.