WELCOME BACK, DAROL DESOTEL

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By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

 

If Elkader’s new postmaster looks a bit familiar it’s because he’s a Clayton County native.

Darol DeSotel, who’s been at the helm in Elkader since March, grew up in Volga. His mother still lives there. He is a 1982 graduate of Central High School who is still remembered fondly by his former classmates and teachers, including Mary Wildman who suggested a “newspaper re-introduction” on him. 

DeSotel left the area after graduation for junior college. He has returned frequently over the years to visit his parents but this is his first job here since his high school days when he worked at the former Schmitz Drug Store.

Now living in Waverly with his wife, Carolee, and near their three grown children, DeSotel has been a postal service employee for several decades. The bulk of his career has been spent in larger facilities. He’s worked in Decorah, Rochester, MN, the Twin Cities, Janesville, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Madrid, IA. The decision to take on the day-to-day supervisory duties of a smaller facility was a deliberate one.

“When this job was posted, we discussed it as a family and decided it was the right move at the right time,” DeSotel said.

DeSotel’s day begins early. He gets up between 4 and 4:15, and hits the road soon after that in order to be in Elkader by 6:30. He leaves the post office between 4:30 and 5:30, often stopping in Volga on his way home to see if his mom needs anything. He’s generally back home between 6 and 7 p.m.

“At some point, maybe moving closer will be an option,” he said, “but this works well for now.” Carolee’s parents live in Waverly; being based there gives her a chance to check in with them on a regular basis.

DeSotel said he’s received a warm welcome from the people of a town that was a big part of his early years. “I’ve seen a lot of old acquaintances and already made some new friends,” he added. “People have treated me really well. The town has changed so I’m getting reacquainted with it and with people who weren’t here when I was. But overall, it’s been a great experience.”

DeSotel is also responsible for the post offices in Garnavillo, Farmersburg, St. Olaf and Volga. Several rural routes come under his jurisdiction, as well. An affable man with a quick smile, he has only good things to say about the people he works with. And he grimaces only slightly when the topic of seemingly endless paperwork comes up.

A new product line has been added to the post office since DeSotel’s arrival. The Elkader facility now offers greeting cards. Several patrons have already made use of the offering.

Despite being surrounded by stamps his entire professional career, DeSotel has never been a collector. He has had his favorites, however. He is currently partial to the sports-themed “Have a Ball” series, which feature game gear on round-shaped stamps (instead of the usual rectangle). And while package delivery services may have cut into postal activity in some cities, DeSotel is happy to report that the package business is strong in Elkader.

“That might be one of my favorite parts of the job,” said DeSotel. “Whether people are surprised by a package or receiving a package they expected, it always makes them happy. It’s a good feeling turning that over to them.”

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