Postmaster retiring, launching new career
By MIKE CORN
To put it simply, Tom Lippert isn't ready to retire.
So instead, he hopes to launch a new career -- outside of the U.S. Postal Service, where he's spent the last 33 years, more than 20 of them as postmaster of the Hays Post Office.
But, as more and more people turn to the Internet for automatic bill paying or email -- rather than writing a letter -- the USPS is struggling, consolidating offices and mail-sorting centers across the nation.
Post offices in northwest Kansas haven't escaped that scenario. Offices have or will be closed or their hours sharply reduced under new recovery plans that simply won't require as many people, as many postmasters.
Lippert, eligible but not yet ready to retire, has decided to go ahead and take a retirement incentive offered by USPS and plans to launch his second career.
He's just not exactly certain what it will be, however.
"It was a tough decision," Lippert said soon after announcing to his staff that his last day on the job would be July 31. "I'm not really ready to retire."
He thinks the timing to launch that second career is better now, and his family is behind his decision to step down now rather than wait.
"Maybe someone might want to hire me now rather than when I'm 60," he said. "If I don't find something in the first few years, I'll go to school."
Lippert said he is now 55 years old -- "way to young to retire."
Going to school won't be much of a change, as he's attended classes over the past couple years, working toward a master's degree in business administration.
While he's receiving an incentive to go ahead and retire now, Lippert said it's not the driving force behind his decision.
"It's not a very large incentive," he said. "The incentive was not at all the reason for me to go."
The incentive amounts to $20,000 spread over two years.
"I will be saddened when I walk out," Lippert said of his last day on the job. "It was a gut-wrenching decision. I agonized over this for months."
But now that he's made the decision, he's looking forward to starting a new career.
To be sure, he has nothing in hand, but is hopeful about a couple prospects.
If those don't pan out, he plans to enroll at Fort Hays State University full time.
"It's something I always wanted to do all these years," Lippert of getting his master's degree. "It's always been put on the back burner because of the kids.
"Now I feel energized. I've got the energy and desire to start another career."
A replacement hasn't been named, although Lippert said he expects one will be appointed in October.