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Happy To
Winthrop Post Office

It is the week before Christmas—the busiest time of the year for U.S. postal workers—but the holiday spirit permeates both sides of the counter at the Winthrop Post Office.

“Christmas is actually a lot of fun here,” says Postmaster Louise Bighouse. “There are lots of hugs in this lobby and they are sincere hugs.”

Clerk Chad Stoothoff agrees that their customers are something special. “This is a very welcoming community,” he says.

And if the number of happy holiday wishes being extended to Bighouse and Stoothoff is any indication, the feeling is mutual.

photoLouise Bighouse, Winthrop postmaster, and Chad Stoothoff, clerk, are friendly faces behind the counter at the Winthrop Post Office.

The Christmas season “is overwhelming” for postal employees, Bighouse allows. “On Monday (Dec. 16) we had over 500 packages come in.” The saving grace is that “It’s a short stint,” she says. There is nowhere near the shelf space to deal with that volume all the time.

After working here and commuting from Pateros for two years, Bighouse was appointed Winthrop postmaster on Sept. 13. The California native, who’s also lived west of Cascades, made her home in Pateros for more than 30 years before recently moving to Twisp.

Her background is in retail, including managing the Brewster Marketplace. She started at the post office in 2007. “Brewster was my home office,” she says, adding that she spent some time in Methow as well.

Stoothoff joined the postal service 17 years ago. He was a city mail carrier before becoming a clerk and has been at the Winthrop Post Office for four years.

The Winthrop Post Office staff also includes Gerald Ames, a postal support employee who works in the back, rural route carrier Gale Tucker, substitute carrier Dori Blackburn and Teresa Shenyer, custodial engineer. “That sounds better than cleaning lady,” quips Shenyer.

The Rons—Ron Frasier and Ron Oakey—are the “highway contract guys,” Bighouse says. They drive the mail truck from Wenatchee to Winthrop, arriving about 8:45 a.m. with the local mail. They then deliver mail to 217 Mazama-area customers. At 4:30 p.m., they drive the truck back to Wenatchee.

Because Winthrop is “the end of the road” for receiving and processing outgoing mail, employees here have a shorter turn-around than, say Chelan, which gets its mail earlier. “We don’t have that quiet two hours in the morning [to get things organized],” Bighouse says.

All told, the Winthrop Post Office serves more than 1,500 customers, including 217 boxes in Mazama, 420 boxes on Tucker’s rural route and about 870 post office box holders, Bighouse says.

As for anything new in 2014, the postmaster says the only thing she knows at this point is that sometime in the spring there will be some remodeling work to make the post office entrance, counter and employee bathroom handicapped accessible.

And on a more personal note, 2014 is the year Bighouse intends to become a cross-country skier. “I love outdoor activities,” says the postmaster, who can often be spotted walking vigorously along Highway 20 on her lunch break. She owns two dogs she runs or walks daily and is a downhill skier. She also skated on the now defunct local Roller Derby team. Perhaps that’s why she takes the rough-and-tumble Christmas season in stride?

It’s hard to imagine a big-city postmaster saying this the week before Christmas: “It’s a privilege and an honor to serve these people. I love them. And I’m not just saying that. It’s truly the community that drew me here.”


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The crew at the Winthrop PO are the best!! It is a pleasure to do business with them!!

Agnes Almquist


These folks are the most friendly and helpful we've ever had.

Lynette Westendorf

Thanks for being so cheerful, efficient and helpful & awesome!

Ardis Bynum


The Winthrop post office is the absolute best. We are so lucky!

Erika Kar