The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Wolfgang Kurtz
LOG Editor 

Couple's postal dues paid


Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Marcia Shea and Jerry Nassen.

Marcia Shea and Jerry Nassen, the pair postmasters from Moose Pass and Seward, spent their last official days behind their respective counters last month. One rural and one small town postmaster, who first crossed paths in 2001, together developed a partnership that resulted in the simultaneous vacancies at Seward and Moose Pass Post Offices upon their retirement. A celebration was organized by Shea's long time friend and rural route carrier, Erin Knotek, and hosted by Trail Lake Lodge in Moose Pass on Saturday.

The couple, who live in Moose Pass, were introduced in the fall of 2001 by Shea's friend, Eleanor Sarren, at a national postmaster convention. At that time Nassen was a long-time resident of Washington state having worked small town and rural postal details from Okanagon to Ronald, where he received a promotion to postmaster. By 2005, the far-flung postmasters were planning for Nassen's relocation to Alaska, and their life and eventual retirement together in Moose Pass.

Shea, born and raised in Alaska, came to Seward as a teen and attended Seward High School before moving to live and work in Moose Pass over the last 45 years. Her career in the postal service began in 1984 as a relief worker for Moose Pass Post Office's former postmaster Julie Kane. A working mom, she raised her two sons Robert and Bruce Smith, while holding down jobs at the Estes Bros. store and the Moose Pass School as a cook. It's a continuing tradition with the current officer in charge, and her possible replacement, Melanie Hornberger, who pulls triple duty as a mom, a postal employee and a server at the Trail Lake Lodge.

While Shea oversaw the Moose Pass post, Nassen drew ever nearer in October 2009, with a short tour as the Nome USPS facility's officer in charge. A day after Lance Mackey won the 2010 Iditarod, Nassen was on his way to serve as postmaster in Glennallen. Six months later he was bidding on a newly vacated postmaster position in Seward. Since then, he's been a Moose Pass commuter, braving Seward's rush-hour on the daily 60-mile round trip.

The weekend retirement celebration for the two was largely a testament to Shea's roots and public service in the small Alaska mountain community. With Jerry and her sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren seated nearby, a series of friends, co-workers and neighbors offered reminisces and toasts to the couple. Erin Knotek, Shea's 7-year rural route carrier, testified to her friends' 30-year career, first in the old postal office and then in the still new building, built in 2001.

Wolfgang Kurtz | The Seward Phoenix LOG

Residents of Moose Pass, with some Sewardites thrown in, celebrate the retirement of postmaster Marcia Shea and her partner, Seward's postmaster Jerry Nassen at Trail Lake Lodge last weekend.

As a founding member of the Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival, Shea chaired the raffle booth for many years and often is seen roaming the festival crowds with feathers in her hair. She is also recognized for contributing to the operation and continuing growth of the Moose Pass Library, one of the community facilities supported by the festival, by volunteering as one of the community's part-time librarians as well as through grant writing and serving on the board.

Along with a sometimes raucous crowd, Knotek also recalled some rolicking tales including a series of vignettes involving unauthorized children and dogs, and Jerry's take on the way things aren't supposed to be, both on the job and in general. Knotek also unveiled an official proclamation from the Alaska Legislature, sponsored through the current session, commending Shea for her service to the community. Moose Pass residents lined up to express thanks and love to the couple.

With the summer ahead, the two intend to spend time away, exploring Alaska together in their newly acquired camper van. Between the two of them, they have the short-term objective of enjoying their free time and living life in the reduced speed zone in Moose Pass.


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