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University Heights Residents Throw Doggone Sweet Retirement Send-Off for Beloved Mailman

Chuck Starr is retiring as a USPS mailman after serving the University Heights area for more than two decades

A University Heights neighborhood threw a farewell celebration for USPS mailman, Chuck Starr, as he heads on for retirement.
Olivier Bioteau

He loves dogs, is known as an efficient and consistent worker and now, he’s retiring after serving the University Heights area for more than 20 years. Chuck Starr, a stellar mailman and beloved figure along his route, was thrown a surprise send-off on his last day of work by the community he served before he headed off into retirement.

Famous in the area for petting the neighborhood dogs on his route and for his friendly demeanor, Starr retired Wednesday after more than two decades as a USPS mailman. Adored by both humans and pooches in the area, Starr was given a proper farewell by his adoring fans that included numerous signs expressing gratitude, decorated mailboxes, balloons and noise makers.

University Heights resident Olivier Bioteau captures neighbors bidding their farewells for beloved mailman, Chuck Starr.

“He was very humble about it, just taking it all in,” University Heights resident, MJ Walcher, told NBC 7.

About 30 neighbors and numerous dogs bid their farewells to Starr, who became close to the community and a cherished figure among residents.

“He’s always been a source of comfort and smiles,” Rochelle Bioteau of University Heights told NBC 7. “It was a constant assurance we had that Chuck will be in the neighborhood. We know he’s always there to smile, wave and give a pat on the head for the dogs.”

Neighbors in University Heights make posters to wish Starr a happy retirement.
-Olivier Bioteau

The celebration was organized after Walcher posted a tribute to Starr on the Nextdoor app in honor of his retirement. After seeing many responses from neighbors expressing their love for the mailman, Bioteau jot down the emails of locals who wanted to celebrate Starr and she then organized the send-off.

Bioteau said she organized the celebration because Starr was always there for his community.

“We’ve seen him work overtime, in heat and in rain and he was always still smiling during his job,” she said. “You want people like that – who are always kind. You want them to feel appreciated.”

“You realize how connected we are by this one human being who touches us all and it seemed like a good time to pull the community together and say thanks,” Walcher said.

Several neighbors and their dogs stopped by for Starr's retirement send-off.
Olivier Bioteau
Several neighbors and their dogs stopped by for Starr's retirement send-off.
-Olivier Bioteau

Starr, who is described as a “Green Bay Packer fan, dog-loving, consciousness and honorable human being,” is best known on his route as being an animal-lover and a source of consistency. The dogs in the community adore him just as much as their human counterparts and he never failed to execute his duties well, both Bioteau and Walcher said.

Although ultimately the University Heights community that was served by Starr is happy for him, his retirement leaves a bittersweet taste in their mouths.

“We’re happy for him that he’s at a point in his life that he’d going off into retirement, but it leaves us a little empty on the inside,” Walcher said.

Neighbors were creative with their posters and signs for Starr.
Olivier Bioteau
Neighbors were creative with their posters and signs for Starr.
-Olivier Bioteau

Since he served the community for so long, Starr has seen children grow into adulthood and has seen neighbors adopt countless pets, according to Walcher and Bioteau. Now, he will get to enjoy his retirement with his wife.

After the experience, Bioteau and Walcher want other San Diegans to remember to love their neighbors.

“Sometimes you forget that everyone lives their own lives, and that’s definitely what’s happened with this COVID pandemic,” Bioteau said. “Your neighbor is someone you should be able to lean on and support each other. Chuck has really helped us do that.”

A poster shows various photographs of Starr with a couple of neighborhood dogs.
Olivier Bioteau
A poster shows various photographs of Starr with a couple of neighborhood dogs.
-Olivier Bioteau
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