Beloved mail carrier, LU alum Cynthia Perkins to retire after 40 years at LU

Cynthia Perkins in mail room

“Don’t start something and then stop –– you have to see it through and finish,” Cynthia Perkins said, recalling advice she would often receive from her late mother.

The Burkeville, Texas, native took those words to heart. After 40 years of service in the Lamar University Mail Center, the beloved mail carrier will postmark her last letter and retire on Aug. 31.

Perkins’ journey at LU started in 1978. While taking classes at Lamar Institute of Technology, she worked in the women’s gym on the Lamar University campus as a student worker. She earned her associates degree in early childhood in 1982 and, shortly after, when a position in the Lamar University Mail Center opened up, she leaped at the opportunity.

Cynthia Perkins sorting mail
Cynthia Perkins sorting mail in the LU Mail Center

“After I earned my associates degree, I saw that a position in the mail room opened up and I applied. I just loved it here –– I must have because I never left,” she said jokingly.

In and out of the mail center students and faculty would come and go. Without fail, Perkins greeted everyone with a smile, asked how their day was going and continued on. Two years later, though, she met a fellow UPS mail carrier who would later become what she calls her “better half.”

Leslie Perkins, LUPD support services specialist who worked for UPS at the time, came into the mail center one faithful day in 1984 to deliver a package. As she usually did, Cynthia greeted Leslie with a smile and asked how his day was going.

“We’ve been married for 35 years and he hasn’t left yet,” she said, grabbing his hand. “Leslie worked for UPS for almost 25 years, then he worked for the local school district for nine years and then he followed me here to LU.” The pair have two daughters together, both graduates of LU, and two sons.

Year after year, Perkins hand-sorted, metered and managed mail for the entire LU campus community while she worked with and mentored student workers in the mail center. She had seen every face on campus and knew each person by name and address.

“If there was ever anything to do here in this room, I’ve done it. I’ve done it all,” she said. “It’s funny because I’ve watched the advancement of technology happen right before my eyes in this very room. Hand-sorting mail changed to machine-sorting. We used to write everything down on paper and then suddenly a computer showed up one day. I’ve seen the campus evolve and change so much.”

One thing that remained the same, though, was her love for her job –– and her desire to live up to her mother’s words: "See it through and finish.”

“My supervisor at the time told me, ‘You’ve started something with your education and you have 30 hours. Why not finish?’ So, I went back and finished what I started,” she said.

In 2007, Perkins graduated from LU with her bachelor’s degree in applied arts and sciences. University Mail Service congratulations card

Now, 40 years later, she said it feels strange to be leaving LU and while she wasn’t “ready” to leave, she feels good about giving up her position of postal services associate sr. to give someone else an opportunity.

“I eat, breathe and sleep Lamar University, so I am absolutely going to miss being here,” Perkins said. What she’ll miss the most, she admitted, are her co-workers.

Lois Brumley, postal services assistant, used two words to describe Perkins –– the best. “She is the best supervisor I’ve had since I've been working for LU for more than 13 years,” Brumley said. “She makes us feel like family and I’ve never had a job like that.”

Perkins said that while she will officially retire from her role at LU on Aug. 31, she won’t be able to just “sit down and do nothing.”

“My plan is to wait a year and then I’ll move on to a part-time job, maybe in the local school district,” she said. “But I would really love to come back and work in the mail center here at LU because I just know I would miss it too much.”