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The Yosemite postmaster retires after more than 40 years (and a whole lot of mail)

John Reynolds outside of the Post Office on Christmas, a regular part of his job.
Christine Gale Reynolds
John Reynolds outside of the Post Office on Christmas, a regular part of his job.

Welcome to a new NPR series where we spotlight the people and things making headlines — and the stories behind them.


Instead of getting chased by rowdy dogs, John Reynolds had his pick between bears, coyotes and plenty of other creatures (not actually, but imagine!)

Who is he? John Reynolds was the postmaster for Yosemite National Park in California, serving over 40 years in the Yosemite and El Portal Post Offices. This week, he retired from the position.

  • Reynolds started his career in the summer of 1978 as a college student. After a casual visit to his mother at work, (who happened to be a 43-year employee of the Yosemite Post Office), he was offered a summer job. Is there a gene for mail?
  • A true (and rare!) area local, Reynolds was born and raised in Yosemite Valley, with parents that both worked in the park.
  • He worked many different roles in the post offices of the area:, first as a clerk, and eventually becoming the postmaster for neighboring town El Portal in 2004. In 2012, he achieved his dream of becoming Postmaster for the Yosemite Post Office, the position he is now retiring from.
  • John and his wife Christine lived and raised their family in the area, even residing in the postmaster's house, a job perk that is limited to just a handful of U.S. post offices, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, and The Grand Canyon


Listen to NPR's interview with Reynolds by hitting the play button at the top.


A local legend. You might not know many people from this part of the U.S. but John's impact was widely felt in his community.

Family friend and Yosemite local, Micole Mccarthy, shared this story with us:

The legend himself at his retirement ceremony on Tuesday, January 31st, 2023.
/ Photo courtesy of Christine Gale Reynolds
/
Photo courtesy of Christine Gale Reynolds
The legend himself at his retirement ceremony on Tuesday, January 31st, 2023.

What does he have to say about himself?

The mighty Yosemite Falls looking mighty.
Ezra Shaw / Getty Images
/
Getty Images
The mighty Yosemite Falls looking mighty.


Want more stories about interesting people? Listen to the Consider This episode with Pamela Anderson.


So, what now?

  • John and Christine first plan to move out of the Postmaster's house into their own place nearby.
  • Despite having lived in the area his entire life, he says there is plenty of back country he'd still like to explore.
  • Then, there's time to enjoy retirement. The Reynolds will be traveling to Europe, and John plans on taking lots of road trips, "unencumbered by a time schedule" , on his motorcycle.

John and his wife Christine during father's day weekend in 2016.
/ Christine Gale Reynolds
/
Christine Gale Reynolds
John and his wife Christine during father's day weekend in 2016.

Want to read about other cool people?

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Manuela López Restrepo
Manuela López Restrepo is a producer and writer at All Things Considered. She's been at NPR since graduating from The University of Maryland, and has worked at shows like Morning Edition and It's Been A Minute. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat Martin.

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