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Asheville’s first female letter carrier, called ‘lady mailman’ in 1968, passes away

By Justin Berger

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Judy Morris was dubbed Asheville’s first “lady mailman.”

In 1968, that was the term used because “it was unheard of for a female to do the job,” her son shared with News 13. “She spent many years laughing about this term, especially as things changed over the years and it became clear that women were more than capable of doing this job.”

Her son, Sandusky Parris, shared memories of his mother’s trailblazing experiences as Asheville’s first female letter carrier during an interview April 4 with News 13.

“The woman came to the door to get the mail… and she said ‘hold on, don’t move I’ve got to get my husband, he’s not going to believe this,'” Parris said. “And she ran to get her husband and bring him back to see, she said, ‘He’s not going to believe that a woman is carrying the mail.’”

Morris died on March 22, 2024.

“She’s actually in that blizzard photo, that’s her right there,” Parris reminisced while looking at a picture of his mom working during the blizzard of ’93.

She started with the United States Postal Service in 1968, only a few months after the first female letter carrier was hired in North Carolina.

“Two years prior, she had interviewed and they wouldn’t give her a full-time job,” Parris said. “When they were finally willing to give her a full time, she said she would do it.” Morris met Parris’ father, who was also a letter carrier, on the job, but at the time she started she was a single mother.

“She needed to make sure that she provided for her family,” Parris said. “She wasn’t going there just to prove a woman could do something; she went there because she needed a job.”

Parris remembers his mom telling him how different things were back in 1968.

“At the time, the Postmaster even said that ‘We’ll let you go ahead and do the regular route, do the regular job, but when there’s evening packages that have to be delivered, we can’t have you do that. It’s not safe,'” Parris said.

Marcell Williams started working with Morris in 1971 at the Biltmore Station.

“When you the first, you can’t afford to mess up,” he said. “I guess by her being a female, the only female, and I was one of the few Blacks, we just sort of bonded together.” Now, Williams is almost 85 and long retired, but he remembered his friend who he said chose to go back to carrying the mail over working in management.

“They thought the world of her,” he said, “because she gave good service and she was always friendly.”

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