Being named the postmaster of the Choteau Post Office allows Robert Stokes from Pendroy to mark one more item off his bucket list.
With 35 years of working for the U.S. Postal Service, Stokes said being the postmaster of the Choteau Post Office has long been a goal. The vacancy came when Doug Anderson, who had served as the Choteau postmaster for a number of years, was hired as the postmaster in Fairfield.
A native of Pendroy, Stokes graduated from Choteau High School in 1972. He attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, and Montana State University in Bozeman. Following college, he worked a year each in carpentry and surveying before working seven years at an oil refinery in Billings.
A chance to purchase the Pendroy Mercantile and to return to the family farm brought Stokes and his wife Debbie home.
With the post office in the Mercantile, Debbie Stokes was named the postmaster of Pendroy. To allow the Post Office to be open when the couple was working in the store, in 1982 Stokes began working part-time as the relief postmaster when his wife wasn’t available. He also was a rural carrier for the Valier and Choteau post offices and helped in the Bynum Post Office.
He went to work fulltime for the postal service in 2006 and has worked as an officer in charge or postmaster at Simms, Dutton, Cascade, Babb, Boulder, Fort Benton and most recently as postmaster in Conrad. He has also served as a trainer for the postal service, a position he will continue to do while serving in Choteau.
He assumed the duties of postmaster in Choteau on March 3.
“Primarily I wanted to be closer to home in accepting the postmaster’s job in Choteau,” Stokes said. “The Conrad post office still has home delivery in the town and thus it meant I worked six days a week while serving as postmaster there. That is not the case in Choteau. My hours generally work that I will be in the post office during the week and still cover a few weekends as needed.”
He hopes to finish out his postal career in Choteau. “It is nice to be closer to home and not just here for a few evenings or one or two days depending on the location I have served in the past few years,” Stokes said.
Spending time with family is important to Stokes. His mother still lives in Choteau. The couple also has four children living in Choteau, Helena, Conrad and Idaho. They also have seven grandchildren to spoil.
Stokes said working with the public is still one of his favorite parts of the job of working at a post office. In the position of postmaster at least five hours of the day is spent doing administrative work. There are still portions of the job that allow him to work with customers and the business community.
The Choteau Post Office employs three part-time clerks and three mail carriers. The post office window is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday. The crew makes every effort to have mail in the boxes between 9 and 9:30 a.m. but the time can vary depending upon the load on any given day.
The crew wishes Carol Keats, who has most recently served as the officer in charge, well in her retirement. Keats’ last day at work here is April 28.