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By SARAH BEACH
The Trimble Banner Intern
The 2011 Kentucky Postmaster of the Year Award went to the Milton postmaster, Cecilia Oak.
Oak received the award at the annual Kentucky National Association of Postmasters of the United States (NAPUS) convention on June 23.
Oak, a resident of Trimble county since 1974, has served as a member of NAPUS in many leadership roles, such as secretary/treasurer, state convention chair, training and seminar chair, and area director, just to name a few.
In these roles, she has had to manage state finances, plan state-wide conventions, coordinate training seminars, and provide mentorship to other postmasters.
The award is presented every year at an awards banquet at the NAPUS conference and is voted for in a secret ballot by other postmasters.
There are approximately 500 active postmasters in the state, and only one of them receives Postmaster of the Year.
Oak said she was “surprised and honored” to receive the award. “I think it’s just my general involvement and my leadership role in NAPUS is what helped me get this award,” she said.
Oak began her career in postal work as a clerk in Milton in 1989. Eight years later she was promoted to postmaster in the Campbellsburg post office, where she worked until the job in Milton came open in the year 2000.
It was while she was postmaster in Campbellsburg that she was invited by another postmaster to join NAPUS. She said NAPUS is “like another family. They speak the same language you do.”
Oak was not always in the postal service, however. After graduating from Purdue in 1974 with a degree in vocational home economics, she was recruited by the University of Kentucky to serve as an agricultural extension agent in Trimble County.
After working in extension for seven years, she took a break to begin her family with her husband Jerry, who is a lifetime resident of Trimble County.
Jerry is now a retired agriculture teacher from Trimble County High School, who farms hay, angus cattle, and horses.
They have three children: Stacy, Sarah, and Ben. They now also have five grandchildren.
During the time she took off to raise her children she got a Masters degree from Georgetown college. She did this by taking intensive summer courses over a period of two or three years, around the time that her son Ben was born. This degree allowed her to teach home economics at Henry County High School.
When she was ready to go back to work, she chose to work at the post office because, like extension, it was another civil service where she could be involved in her community.
Besides being closely involved in NAPUS, she is also involved in Bedford Baptist Church as a member of the handbell choir. She also has served on the Trimble County Fair board.
Originally from Avon, Ind., Oak first visited Milton with her family as a child. Her father was part of a construction crew and traveled to Madison, Ind. to work there.
Before they left, her father decided to show them Kentucky, so he drove them over the Milton bridge, turned around, and drove back. She had no way of knowing that she would be returning there within ten years, this time to stay.
She now plans to remain at the Milton office until she retires.
Her mentors in NAPUS have helped her in her career. “You coach each other,” she said, “…you get to know everybody and talk the same language.”
“A lot of the people who have gotten this award before have been my mentors in the organization that helped mentor me in my career,” Oak said, “So it was really an honor to be able to get this and to think that I’ve reached this plateau here where I’m able to mentor others.”