When Dean Maeda was sworn in as Palo Alto, Calif.’s postmaster in early January, he was carrying on a family tradition begun by his father, who retired from the United States Postal Service about 20 years ago.
“It was always a goal of mine to be a postmaster. And working at the same one that my dad worked at is nice,” said Maeda, 47, who was honored in a ceremony at the Palo Alto Main Post Office on Jan. 8.
Maeda’s father, Johnny, who was Palo Alto’s postmaster from 1976 to 1989, said, “The ceremony was exciting. I was so proud.”
Maeda, who oversees five post offices and more than 200 employees, has been working for the Postal Service since 1982.
“It’s been a long road — it’s been gratifying to work in Palo Alto,” said Maeda, a Sunnyvale, Calif., resident.
The U.S. Postal Service is a family business for Maeda. His wife, Josephine, is a letter carrier at the Sunnyvale post office and her parents have also been postal employees.
Born in Gardena, Calif., Maeda grew up in Southern California and attended DeAnza College in Cupertino, Calif., where he studied business. Maeda has three children, Aaron, Johnny and Alexandria.
Maeda, who was most recently a manager at Palo Alto’s main post office, said that his job is highly rewarding and that he especially enjoys interacting with people.
“Working with the employees and the public to provide service is the most gratifying,” said Maeda.
Maeda is responsible for more than 42,000 daily deliveries in both Palo Alto and East Palo Alto.
He said that his job has many challenges, including deciding what direction the post office will take in the future.
“The challenges ahead include decreased mail volume — we’re trying to deal with that. There are economic challenges as well,” said Maeda, who has also served as a delivery supervisor at the post office.
Maeda said that his father, who started his career as a letter carrier in Hawthorne, Calif., strongly influenced his decision to become a letter carrier and eventually a postmaster.
“I always thought it was neat and something I might want to try. My father encouraged me to take the Civil Service Exam. And it’s turned out pretty good so far,” said Maeda, who succeeds John Kelly as Palo Alto’s postmaster.
Maeda, who enjoys playing basketball in his free time, said that having his father at the swearing-in service was very meaningful to him.
“It was special to have my father there. I think he enjoyed it. The day turned out very nice,” said Maeda, whose father is a Nisei and whose mother was an Issei.
Johnny Maeda, who held the Bible at the swearing-in ceremony, said that the fact that both he and his son have served as postmasters at the Palo Alto office is a unique situation.
“This is kind of unusual,” he said. “It must be the first time for Japanese Americans. It’s history in the making.”