For 40 years, Dan Fischer has traversed the streets of the Allview Estates community in Columbia, delivering mail to about 370 homes.
Last week, Fischer, a 70-year-old Catonsville resident, made his last visits to a community that has embraced him as one of their own.
"I've enjoyed interaction with the people on the route mainly," said Fischer, who is retiring from the U.S. Postal Service after 48 years.
The feeling seems to be mutual.
"He's just a very nice person, very friendly, very careful when he goes through the neighborhood," said Zoe Cohen, a resident of Carlinda Avenue and secretary of the Allview Area Community Association.
AACA President Matthew Hoffman, who also lives on Carlinda Avenue, said Fischer "is the personification of dependable."
Hoffman, Cohen and a few other Allview residents presented Fischer, whose last day delivering the mail was Friday, April 27, with a plaque and letter of appreciation on April 26, in front of Hoffman's house.
"He's the only postman we've known," said Chris Scarzello, who moved to her home on Allview Drive in 1972. "He comes every day; he's very good."
Hoffman said Fischer has delivered mail to three generations of his family. He recalled how as a young boy how he would run out to greet "Mr. Dan."
"He never bends the pictures; he always comes to the door with the large packages," Hoffman said.
Cohen added: "He did the extra mile, and that's why he'll be missed."
Asked why he decided to retire, Fischer said: "It's time to go. I want to get out before they carry me out."
He said he's looking forward to having more time to go fishing and crabbing.
On Monday, April 23, Fischer was surprised to see several mailboxes in the Allview community decorated for him, and filled with notes wishing him a happy retirement.
"I wasn't expecting that," he said. "It was just overwhelming."
Nor was Fischer, who grew up in Columbia, expecting the big retirement party his colleagues at the Columbia Post Office threw for him Thursday morning.
After being showered with gifts, Fischer, a self-described "man of few words," thanked his fellow postal workers:
"It's overwhelming, this whole experience," he said. "I'm going to miss everybody here."
After Fischer spoke, his colleagues chanted his nickname: "Fisch, Fisch, Fisch."
Marguerite Bradley, the postmaster at the Columbia Post Office, said in her nearly eight-year tenure, she doesn't recall any employees who have worked as long as Fischer.
"This was just a phenomenal thing to be able to do, to reach this milestone," she said.
Bradley said employees this week wore purple ribbons to honor Fischer, whose favorite color is purple. They also bought him a Teddy bear named Dan, which employees embraced so Fischer could take their hugs with him.
"We wanted to make this week special for Mr. Fischer," Bradley said.
Kevin McAdams, the Baltimore district manager for the U.S. Postal Service, agree it was unusual for someone to deliver mail for nearly a half-century.
"And even more rare is the fact that he spent 40 years on the same route," he said.
At the Postal Service, employees bid for the routes they want, and McAdams joked that after Fischer is gone "there's going to be a lot of bids for (his) route."
Two of Fischer's three children were on hand for the retirement party.
"I know he's been looking forward to it," his son Tony Fischer, of Lutherville, said. "He's an extremely dedicated employee."
Fischer's daughter Mary Voss, of Catonsville, said she, Tony and their sister Bernadette grew up hearing stories about Fischer's job. She said he was treated well by Allview Estate residents.
"He got a lot of gifts at Christmas time," Voss recalled.