By Ryan Lengerich: CNJ staff writer
Beth Nelson understood customer service.
The 79-year-old former newspaper carrier speaks softly and smiles often despite a knee brace strapped on her right leg like a sidelined athlete.
That brace, she said, is the only thing preventing her from delivering Clovis News Journals to 150 customers in city’s southeast side.
“I don’t think I would have ever given up the route until I was dead,” she said.
Nelson began delivering papers in August 1984 and would have reached 20 years of work this year. She fell short by two months when she injured her knee April 3 in an accident at her house.
Tuesday her co-workers held a retirement part at the CNJ mailroom.
“Beth is a special person and always went out of her way to service customers,” Circulation Director Lynn Berry said. “Beth’s joyful attitude and smile will truly be missed.”
Nelson knew her customers — and their pets — by name. Each holiday she would write her subscribers a greeting and slip into their morning edition. She wrote her last note this month.
“I cried and cried when I wrote them a note that I wouldn’t be there anymore,” she said.
Born in Clovis in 1925, Nelson worked in civil service at Cannon Air Force Base for 31 years before taking the delivery position.
For many years she delivered from a rusty, worn-down car. The insulation was falling from the ceiling, it was rusted and didn’t run well, she said. In 1993, her customer Dr. Earl Tyler and his family were moving from Clovis. Before leaving, they gave her a key and title to a new car.
“I couldn’t buy another car, so I was shocked,” she said.
District Manager Dave Williamson said Nelson will be difficult to replace because her customer service went beyond expectations.
“The longer you work with customers the better relationship you build with them,” Williamson said. “She got close to her customers.”
The job was not about payday, she said. The 150 friends she delivered to each morning was the reason she didn’t want to stop.
She doesn’t know the exact extent of her knee injury but doctors said she won’t recover for about six months and during that time she can’t drive.
And therefore, she can’t deliver to her friends.
“I wrote them a little note when I told them I was going to have to give it up,” she said. “It said, when I am able to drive, don’t be surprised if you see me driving my route, going up and down the lane.”