With warmest appreciation to my fellow Branch 86 members

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Past President, Michael Willadsen
Michael Willadsen
President Emeritus

Since retiring almost 10 weeks ago — when you think nobody notices, that nobody is paying attention, that nobody cares — I have received almost 600 cards, letters, notes, text messages, and phone calls expressing congratulations and well wishes! I have also received calls from several national officers and business agents. I have been deeply humbled and appreciative and reflective. I would like to respond to everyone, but it would be impossible. I’m sorry. In addition, coordinated by Branch President George Laham, Branch 86 hosted a “Farewell Mike” testimonial on Sunday, June 26th at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville, CT.

Seven Branches from southern New England were represented as were representatives from the CSALC (l was President for eight years back in the 80’s and 90’s). NALC President Fred Rolando and National Business Agent Richard DiCecca were in attendance. I had been nervous that the turnout would be low — being held on a Sunday morning after carriers had worked long hours in a long week. But, when I was told that ticket sales had gone over 200, I was thrilled beyond words. I asked my wife and younger son and his fiancé to accompany me. (Our older son lives in Boise, Idaho!)

Many old-time Branch 86 officials, long into their own retirements, were there and I was thrilled to see them! One always takes a chance on forgetting to mention someone and having them be offended, but I’ll take that chance; Manchesters’ John O’Neill and David Krinjak, South Windsors’ Irv Clark, Bristols’ Walter Zaniewski, and New Britains’ Vinnie Cmuchowski. Former long-time Farmington Steward Mike Grabko drove up from Pennsylvania with his wife! Almost every Executive Board member was there, along with many former and current Stewards. Surprisingly, some who attended were not supporters but were still able to put differences aside to see me off (or to make sure I left!).

I know some of the stories I told from my earliest years in the USPS were somewhat crude, but I shared them because they are fond memories of mine, and to show some of the newer employees how much things have changed. I apologize if anyone was offended, but I did offer up a disclaimer before proceeding!

I would be remiss if I did not share that I am having a harder time than expected getting my arms around this retirement thing. Many fall into it and enjoy it from day 1. However, I was “in the fight” for so long that I feel like a warrior without a war. I’ll get there — I’m sure — but it’s taking a little longer than I thought it would!

In closing, I have been to the last 18 national conventions — weeklong events every 2 years. I love conventions and very rarely leave my seat during the 5-hour sessions every day. While I would have loved to go to the next Convention in Chicago in several weeks and was fully qualified and capable of going, I thought it best to end my run and let a newer Steward take my place. While my attendance would have been a purely enjoyable one, a newer Steward would find it enjoyable and educational. Glastonbury’s Dan Diaz is a newer up-and-coming Steward, and I ensured that he would take my place this year. You earned it, Dan, make the most of it!

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