Longtime Caraway postmaster retires

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Caraway Postmaster, Betty Pendergraft will be retiring from her job, after thirty years of service, this week, and was honored with a retirement celebration held in her honor, on June 17.

Caraway Mayor, Joe South, was on hand to present Pendergraft with a key to the city. Craighead County Judge, Dale Haas, presented her with a special retirement proclamation.

"I owe a lot to R. H. Rea, the former postmaster who hired me thirty years ago," Pendergraft said. "He told me there would be great opportunities at the Caraway post office, if I would just stay with it. He said he planned to move up the postal ladder someday. He got me started on the right road."

Pendergraft started working two hours each Thursday and Friday. When Rea left, a year later, Pendergraft was appointed as acting postmaster for six months. In 1979 she began as acting postmaster at Monette, and stayed there more than a year. She also worked at Arkansas State University in 1988 for six months.

"It is hard to believe that 30 years has passed by so fast," Pendergraft said. "I know I am going to miss the people and friends I have made here, but I don't plan to move away. Living here and working at the post office has been a very positive experience for me, and I am thankful that I was given the opportunity."

Betty's parents Joe and Ola Mae (Bryant) Trull moved to Caraway from Tennessee. She has four sisters, Margie, Louise, Nancy and Judy. Betty, her husband John, and all their children graduated from Caraway High School. The children are John Allen Pendergraft, Keith Pendergraft, and Tracey Haas.

"Just like my parents before me, I have seen a lot of changes here," Pendergraft said. "I have seen mail delivery routes and post office boxes double, from when I started. We use to sort everything ourselves and now it is done for us in Jonesboro.

"I have always had good help here, which made my job so much easier," Pendergraft said. "I have also lost some dear friends that worked with me, two in particular were hard, Brenda Wood, in 1992, and George Brown, in 1996. You just can't help but get close to people when you have such a small office.

"We have made a lot of transitions," Pendergraft said. "We use to do everything by hand, and now we have it on computer. We get more automated all the time.

"After 9-11 we had to wash the post office down with bleach, because of the Anthrax scare," Pendergraft said. "We are much more cautious now. People are not allowed to mail anything in motor oil or bleach boxes, or anything suspicious looking."

Pengergraft plans to stay active after retirement, spending more time with her children and grandchildren. Her husband John operates the Penderosa Pecan Farm, and she plans to work there during the busy season.

"I just plan to take it a little easier," Pendergraft said. "I will travel, if given the opportunity, and plan to do all the things I have wanted to do and didn't have the time to earlier."

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