FEELINGSVILLE — Floyd Martin was a fixture in one Georgia community for more than 30 years, delivering mail and smiles along the way.
That came to an end Wednesday when the 61-year-old completed his final route before retirement. But it’s how those he delivered mail to responded that made his story a viral sensation.
Jennifer Brett, a reporter with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution followed Martin for his final route and tweeted along the way. Martin told Brett he graduated from a high school just outside of Atlanta in 1975 and joined the United States Postal Service a few years later after they offered to double the pay he made at the bank he worked at.
THREAD: Floyd Martin retires after nearly 35 years as a mailman tomorrow. I went with him on his route today. pic.twitter.com/qZhUVY7Sz8— Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 22, 2019
Brett’s routine Wednesday included hugs from those he delivered mail to, and some in the neighborhood delivered gifts to Martin as he came by with their mail.
“Kids on his route love, love, L-O-V-E Mr. Floyd,” Brett tweeted, along with a photo of Martin with a young neighborhood child who once even dressed up as a mail carrier herself. Other neighbors talked about how Martin would smile and wave every day, feed their pets or check on the elderly neighbors on the route.
Neighbors even decorated their mailboxes in streamers, balloons or cards to celebrate Martin’s career and let him know he was loved in the community.
Update! People on Floyd's route decorated their mailboxes to surprise him on his last day pic.twitter.com/7vo8Gepv2s— Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 24, 2019
Perhaps the most touching part of it was after his shift ended as more than 300 people from the route greeted him with a retirement block party. There, residents got to thank him for all he did for them, offer hugs and take photos with him.
“It’s been amazing. They were my friends,” Martin told Brett at the end of his route. “I could have left them a long time ago but I wouldn’t because I love them.”
Here's a short clip of Floyd next to one of the mailboxes decorated in his honor. He could have taken an easier job at the post office over the years but didn't. "I could have left them a long time ago but I wouldn't, because I love them." pic.twitter.com/SOaIf3wBYr— Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 24, 2019
Floyd said tonight’s sendoff was the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for him. His parting words: “Continue to take care of each other, and smile when you think of me.” -30 - pic.twitter.com/OsYgT1PgCp— Jennifer Brett (@Jennifer__Brett) May 24, 2019
Brett's initial tweet has garnered more than 35,000 retweets in about 48 hours, as well as many more touched by seeing the impact a kind person can have on a community.
"This thread was very touching. My grandfather was a retired letter carrier and served as a union steward after his retirement. He loved his job and the families he delivered to. Best wishes to Mr. Floyd," one person responded.
"Congratulations Floyd on your 35 years of service — and clearly touching so many. The world needs more people like you," another added.
Congratulations Floyd on your 35 years of service - and clearly touching so many. The world needs more people like you...— Elizabeth Vargas (@EVargasTV) May 24, 2019
Crying. This is the America I know. I miss it. 😭— Tracey Gaughran (@traceygaughran) May 24, 2019
I’m not crying, you’re crying.— Sean McGraw (@SeattleMcGraw) May 24, 2019
This is awesome and made my day! I wish all people could be more like Floyd: understand the value of people and that empathy in building relationships means so much more than to just pass someone by while saying hello. All the best for Floyd! ❤️— Jenni Poutanen (@jenni_poutanen) May 24, 2019
But there’s an even happier ending to a storybook career.
After learning his dream was to visit Hawaii one day, the neighborhood banded together to start a GoFundMe* to fund a retirement gift. As of early Friday afternoon, nearly $19,000 had been donated toward Martin’s retirement dream. Delta Airlines also offered to cover Martin’s flight to Hawaii.
*KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.