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McCarty retires where he started

North Liberty postmaster calls it a career
Kim McCarty, the North Liberty Postmaster since 2012, retired from the Post Office at the end of the day Friday, Feb. 1. (photos by Doug Lindner)

NORTH LIBERTY– Kim McCarty made it back to North Liberty.
It was where he started with the United States Postal Service (USPS) in 1979.
“Believe it or not, one of my goals in my career was I always wanted to come back and retire from North Liberty,” McCarty said. “I was fortunate enough to be able to make the right steps to be able to do that.”
McCarty, 61, the North Liberty Postmaster since 2012, retired from the USPS at the end of the day Friday, Feb. 1.
Postal customers lucky enough to visit were treated to cookies and other treats.
Although his father was a rural route postal carrier, McCarty wasn’t planning on it as a career.
A native of Hartley in Northwest Iowa, he attended the University of Northern Iowa for two years before falling in love and transferring to the University of Iowa (UI).
He and his wife Karyl were married and he worked to finish his degree in accounting, but it was as a Christmas runner for United Parcel Service (UPS) he would finally become a second-generation postal employee.
His UPS truck stopped at a medical dental office while it was having its Christmas party. The driver stepped inside for a moment, and while McCarty waited in the lobby, he overheard the receptionists talking about a new job opening at the North Liberty Post Office.
McCarty listened intently, did a little research and discovered it was a split shift– from 7-9 in the morning and then from 3-5:15 in the afternoon. That aspect of the job may not have appealed to every potential applicant, but it did for McCarty.
“As a college student, that worked out fantastic,” he said.
He worked for Postmaster Doris Ruth, “a wonderful gal,” as a clerk, manning the retail window and distributing mail to the carriers until 1981.
“Talk about small town Iowa,” he said. North Liberty was a sleepy town of maybe 1,200 back then and McCarty would come up 12th Avenue, then a gravel road, to get to work from his home in Coralville.
The post office was located in a small brick building to the west of Sugar Bottom Bikes. That Front Street location served as the North Liberty Post Office from its construction in 1969 until 1999 when the current Commercial Drive site was established.
After graduating from the UI, he tried his hand at accounting with a private firm.
“It just wasn’t who I was, so I came back to the postal service,” he explained.
McCarty was back with the USPS in February 1982, again as a clerk, this time in Coralville.
“I was fortunate enough to get the right experience and have the right boss, that in March of 1984, I got into management,” he said.
And it took off from there.
His first assignment as postmaster came in 1993 when he took charge of the Marion office. He served there until 2009, when he decided to step back and downsize a bit, accepting the same post in Williamsburg.
He served there until 2012.
“This one came open and I was lucky enough to get this one,” McCarty said.
He and Karyl moved to North Liberty in 2013.
McCarty will be temporarily replaced by Alex Grimm, the postmaster at Marengo.
“My memories of the postal service are just working with great people and people who were dedicated to their job,” he said. “The people you remember are the ones that came in, did their job and did it with a smile.”
The informal motto of the USPS– “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”– rings true for the people in the postal service, he said.
A lot of it has to do with the sanctity of the mail.
“You as a customer are wanting us to provide the best security to your private correspondence and your bank information or your utilities, and that’s a dedication that postal employees take seriously,” McCarty noted.
Karyl retired a year ago in July from the neonatal intensive care unit of UI Hospitals and Clinics, but the couple has four grandkids ranging in age from 8 years to 3 months living nearby in North Liberty.
“That will, and is, keeping us busy,” McCarty said. “They make you feel so young. Grandkids just lift your spirits up and make you smile.”
He expects to take a month or two off just to relax, but he doesn’t plan to be idle for long.
“You know, I’ve had a job since I’ve been 14 years old in some shape or form, so I can’t see going cold turkey,” he said. “I’m going to probably find a part-time job out there for a while and kind of just slowly edge into retirement. Nothing strenuous, just something to keep busy with.”