Up until 1949, the mail arrived in Richfield on a train.
Then the U.S. Postal Service opted to start trucking the mail. Jack Lund was the man who drove that first mail truck into town. He quite literally has been in it for the long haul as he’s been driving the mail ever since.
“It has been a good ride,” Jack said at a retirement party hosted in his honor Feb. 13 at Richfield’s post office. “I never got into the politics of it, I just tried to do a good job.”
When he started, Jack had just returned from military service in Korea. He was born in Moab and had spent his childhood farming and trucking alongside his father.
Jack has driven the mail as a postal contractor for 70 years, which means anyone in the region who’s ever received a letter, a bill or a parcel from the U.S. Postal Service has Jack to thank for it.
In all of that time, he’s never missed a delivery.
Mechanical breakdowns, uncooperative weather and even the Utah Highway Patrol couldn’t stop Jack from the job.
One time during a run to Phoenix, Arizona, a Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped Jack in Garfield County.
“He told me I couldn’t go any farther,” Jack said. With four feet of snow on the ground, the mountain passes south of Panguitch were treacherous.
“I told him that this is the U.S. Mail, you can not stop me unless it is absolutely impossible to go,” Jack said. The patrolman told Jack if he got stuck, he’d go to jail.
Jack made it through that night, and many, many others. In fact, he estimates he’s driven some 3 and a half million miles.
When companies he worked for folded or dropped the mail run, Jack picked up the contract on his own.
“We’ve found some really good drivers through the years,” Jack said. He said the way the runs work, it’s sometimes difficult to attract drivers.
However, he always found a way to keep the mail arriving.
There were a few close calls along the way. Once while he and a coworker were working to free up some the brakes that had locked up. The brakes came free and the truck and trailer started to roll.
“I grabbed a spare tire and threw it under to stop it,” Jack said. The truck ran right over the tire, which scared Jack’s coworker.
“He thought the tire was me,” Jack said. “If I’d kept a journal, I could write a book and it’d be a best seller.”
When Max Way Trucking and Freight picked up postal contracts across the state, the company kept Jack.
“We didn’t have the heart to put Jack out of business,” said Kevin Maxfield, owner of Max Way. “I just told him to keep doing what he was doing.”
The agreement with Maxfield was cemented with a handshake.
For Jack, the long haul has also included other jobs.
“At one point he was hauling for Chappell Cheese out of Loa, working at Flying J and doing the mail run,” said Carolyn Lund, Jack’s wife. “I said to him, maybe you should just have one job. He said, ‘I don’t want to work full-time.’”
Carolyn said Jack have always shown devotion to whatever company he drove for, whether it was Wycoff, Milne or Dunkley. He’s run both long haul and local freight delivery in addition to his mail runs.
Sometimes that meant doing things in an unconventional way.
“I remember loading mail through that window over there,” Jack said. At the time, the post office’s dock was being worked on, and there was no other option but to load the mail in through a window on the north side of the building.
“This post office was built in 1917,” said Curtis Marsh, former postmaster. “Jack has been here for all but 31 of those years.”
Marsh said Jack’s word was his bond, and he’d find a way to get the job done even when it was difficult.
“He’s one of the most positive people I know,” Marsh said.
The top priorities have always been number one, the safety of the drivers, and number two, getting the mail where it needs to go, according to Jack.
“I’ve really enjoyed knowing Jack,” said Wes Kirschner, postmaster. He presented Jack a flag that had flown on pole in front of the post office.
“He comes in and he makes it happen,” Kirschner said.