WINDOW ROCK - Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., says that just about the time you get someone trained to do a job the way you like it, they leave.
Such is the case with Navajo Nation mailman Kee Muskett - after 46 years on the job.
Besides holding a once-in-a-life time work record, Muskett, 77, leaves a once-in-a-lifetime work reputation of hardly missing a day since being hired during the Paul Jones administration in 1962, of traveling from his home in Tohatchi regardless of the depth of the snow on the roads, and having his co-workers arrive to work to the smell of fresh-brewed coffee.
"People like you, Mr. Muskett, are very hard to find," President Shirley told him during his retirement dinner March 27. "A loyal person, a person with commitment, an employee with commitment [and] dedication is very hard to find. Usually, you hire somebody and they work for a couple of years and then they're gone. Just when you train them and you're looking forward to getting some good years, then they're off and gone and you have to go looking again."
Record Management Department Manager Marlene Slim, who has only 22 years to go to match Muskett's record, said everyone knows that working with him is always a joy.
To demonstrate that, Muskett was showered with praise, compliments and gifts at his dinner. When Mistress of Ceremonies Leila Help-Tulley asked how many had had a smile put on their faces by Muskett, the response was nearly unanimous.
President Shirley referred to him as a "very valuable and honorable person."
"It makes my heart glad to be sitting at the same table with him, and breaking bread with him and calling him my older brother," he said. "I want to say congratulations for a job well done."
President Shirley said Mr. Muskett's retirement is his family's gain and the Navajo Nation's loss.
"I know you've touched a lot of lives," he said. "Mail is very important to the running of a government. You've touched thousands of lives in 46 years. Because of that, I know you've made a lot of people happy."
He said through his diligent work he's touched people from children and the elderly to soldiers, congressmen, senators and even some U.S presidents.
When he started work, he was paid $1.44 an hour. Delivering the mail and working for Records Management is the only job he's held for the Navajo Nation.
Today, the mail still goes through, his colleagues in Records Management said. But it now takes several of them to do the job one Kee Muskett performed.
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