The History: 1894 – 2004
In the early years of NAPUS (1898ff.) there were no provisions for Postmasters to continue their membership after retirement. Several efforts were made to establish a retiree organization, but official founding of the group was long in coming.
On July 3, 1926, Congress amended the retirement act of 1920, providing for retirement at age 62, with the annuity computed on an average basic salary for the last ten years. Few Postmasters, however, attained that goal, since most were only appointed for four-year terms.
The revised NAPUS Constitution and Bylaws adopted at the 1935 national convention in Chicago finally provided for auxiliary membership for retired Postmasters, but no official organization.
In 1938, the Ramspeck-O’Mahoney Act became law and Postmasters could finally plan on lifelong careers. In1939, retirement privileges were extended to classified Postmasters. The ranks of retired NAPUS Postmasters increased, but they were without a separate organization.
John W. Masterson, Postmaster at Harmon-on-Hudson, NY, can be credited for forming an organization for Postmasters Retired. The December 1950 issue of the Postmasters Gazette featured Masterson as looking forward to forming a group of retired Postmasters with whom he could meet and talk over old times. Any one interested was asked to contact him.
On September 18, 1951 at the national convention in Washington, DC, the Retired Postmasters Association of the United States was organized under NAPUS. Elected officers were: president, John W. Masterson, Harmon-on-Hudson, NY; vice presidents, Isaac A. Smoot, Salt Lake City, UT; Michael J. O’Rourke, Beverly Hills, CA; William DeGrasse, Amarillo, TX; secretary-treasurer, Frank L. Egger, Larchmont, NY; and honorary member, James A. Farley, former Postmaster General.
Membership dues were $1 per year, or a lifetime membership for $10. The current president’s village would be headquarters. A picture of Uncle Sam was chosen as an emblem. (Among the speakers at the 1951 NAPUS national convention were: U.S. President Harry S Truman, Vice President Albin W. Barkley, and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn.)
Retired Denver, CO Postmaster James O. Stevic said, “I am thankful a provision has been made for associate memberships… Retired Postmasters now receive a monthly annuity check, another of the Association’s ‘assists.’ I am hopeful I may play a part in encouraging those who are now ‘on the bench’ to join me…and apply for an associate membership…through their regular state chapters.”
Editor’s Note: The designations “honorary member,” “auxiliary member” and “associate member” all refer to retired Postmasters. The “honorary member” designation seemed to be accepted until about the time of the NAPUS reorganization (1930s). In 1926, the NAPUS Bylaws noted that subscribers to the Postmasters Gazette who were not active members “shall be designated associate members of the association…” After the mid-1930s, the designations “associate” and “auxiliary” were used rather loosely and often synonymously to refer to retired Postmasters. As efforts were made on an irregular basis toward formal organization of the retirees, lack of coordination and continuity, plus the fact that so few records were kept, merely perpetuated the confusion. From the 1970s to 1980s, special efforts were made to clarify, identify and define the retiree designation. Today, NAPUS retirees wishing to continue their association with NAPUS must do so as members of NAPUS “Postmasters Retired.” There are also “surviving spouse” and “associate” membership designations within NAPUS (since 1969), the latter consisting of individuals who joined NAPUS as officers-in-charge.