After 41 years handling campus mail at Eastern Mennonite University, postal supervisor Betty Hertzler retires

Betty Hauder Hertzler '69 retires this month after 41 years as mailroom supervisor at Eastern Mennonite University. Valentine's Day used to be the busiest time for the post office, she says, but now it's the beginning of each semester when student textbook packages arrive. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Betty Hertzler has done a lot of laughing at human nature over the years. Postal supervisor at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) since 1974, Hertzler has fielded scores of questions showing a lack of common sense:

  • “Do you have any stamps?”
  • “Do you have any Christian stamps?”
  • “How do I address a letter?”
  • “Do I need to pay to send this package?”

She’s also witnessed an attempt to mail a dollar bill (with no envelope or return address, she simply kept it); opened an envelope addressed to EMU only to find a $100 bill with no note (she handed it over to the Business Office); wondered what to do with an envelope addressed to “The Christians at EMU”; and endured hundreds of somewhat accusatory questions from concerned individuals about the location of packages/envelopes/mailings.

“People think you’re keeping mail from them,” she says. “It’s crazy. Look at this place. Do you think I have room to hold anything longer than a day?”

Hertzler retires this month after 41 years. In the lineage of the post office, she is the third person to head the mailroom.

From Nebraska to Virginia

Betty Hertzler

Betty Hauder Hertzler in the mailroom.

Betty Hauder came to Eastern Mennonite College from Nebraska in 1965, and met her future husband, Lowell, during freshman orientation (they celebrate their 50th anniversary this September).

In 1966, she began working as a library assistant to Margaret M. Shenk, when the library was located at the north end of the Administration Building, known as the “Ad” building. In 1968, when her first son was born, she became a stay-at-home mom until both boys went to elementary school. (Eventually both sons attended EMU: Andre graduated in 1992 with a degree in computer science and Shelby completed two years of pre-engineering studies at EMU before finishing in 1995 at Virginia Tech.)

Hertzler then was hired by Rivers Williams, the bookstore manager who also oversaw the adjacent post office in University Commons.

In fall of 1986, the post office moved to a larger room in the Campus Center, where Hertzler now spends her days. The room is most busy in the weeks before the new semester starts, and stacks of packaged textbooks line the walls six feet high (the stacks are organized by gender, then alphabetically, to the left and right of the window).

The current mailroom integrates several artifacts of institutional history: one wall of postal boxes from the original Ad building (faculty and staff picked up their mail there) and two walls of postal boxes from the first location of the mailroom in University Commons.

A walking campus directoryBettyHertzler retirement feature-9557

Hertzler has worked with many helpers over the years, including scores of work-study students (back when mail was more commonly used, she had a crew of five) and longtime volunteers Ammon Heatwole and Paul Coffman, who helped to pick up mail and do campus rounds. She’s also had three postal assistants: Deb Detwiler, Steve Campbell and at the present time, Donnita Williams, who has been “my faithful sidekick for 22 years.”

Over those years, there’s been “lots of practical jokes, but not so many in recent years. Most students these days are “wired, with little things in their ears,” she says. “They used to joke around a lot. It was a lot of fun. I miss that.”

Hertzler has also developed an easily accessible mental directory of the names and positions of EMU employees, as well as the hundreds of students who pass through campus. “You have to know names,” she says. “The hard part is when someone goes from position to position.”

She’ll miss the social part of her job, she says, but she still plans to stop in to buy stamps.

Retirement greetings can sent to hertzbj@emu.edu or by mail (of course!) at 1200 Park Road, Harrisonburg, VA, 22802.

Other retiring faculty and staff

Also retiring are the following faculty and staff (position listed is most recent held): Linda Alley, administrative assistant for events, director of the Summer Institute for Spiritual Formation and of the Congregational Resource Center, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, 27 years; Professor Don Clymer, Department of Language and Literature, 17 years; Professor Spencer Cowles, Department of Business, 27 years; Jan Gerber, information officer, 23 years; Professor David Glanzer, co-founder of the MA in Counseling program (39 years); Professor Ted Grimsrud, Department of Bible and Religion, 20 years; Betty Hertzler, postal supervisor, 41 years; Eldon Kurtz, director of the physical plant, 28 years; Professor Roman Miller, Master’s in Biomedicine graduate program, 31 years; Jack Rutt, special projects support, 17 years; and Pamela Rutt, assistant director of the education graduate program at EMU Lancaster, 18 years.

Published May 2016.