'I know you from someplace': Familiar face at South Elgin post office retiring after 35 years

  • Postal worker Dave Zelms will be retiring this week after 35 years spent working in South Elgin. South Elgin Village President Steve Ward stopped by the post office Monday morning to congratulate him.

      Postal worker Dave Zelms will be retiring this week after 35 years spent working in South Elgin. South Elgin Village President Steve Ward stopped by the post office Monday morning to congratulate him. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/24/2022 6:13 AM

A familiar face to visitors of the South Elgin post office, Dave Zelms is hanging up his stamps after 35 years.

Zelms is retiring Thursday after spending all but about six months of his postal career working behind the counter in South Elgin.

 

"When I started there was like 7,000 people in town and nothing west of McLean," Zelms said. "It's been really fun watching it grow."

Zelms got a surprise visit Monday morning from Village President Steve Ward to congratulate him. The village had received an email from Zelms' daughter Hannah notifying them of his pending retirement with the hope they could acknowledge him in some way.

"My dad is so beloved by our community," Hannah Zelms said. "He embraces them as they do him. It's really inspiring how many people he has befriended and supported during his career."

For his part, Zelms said it is that community that he's going to miss most.

"The big thing is talking to the people," he said. "I know so many people on a first-name basis. I know their stories.

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"To give that up is going to be rough."

Zelms said his first order of business upon retirement is "to take the summer off." He also is planning to train for the Chicago Marathon for a third time.

He said he and his wife will remain in South Elgin, where people probably will continue to recognize him but not be exactly sure why.

"I always get 'I know you from someplace' when I'm out," said Zelms, who sports long gray hair that is usually the thing people remember. "Now, I'll have to answer that I'm the guy that used to work at the post office."

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