The Post Office Career of
Clarence E. Knudson

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Today there seem to be a lot of people that have it in for the Post Office. They criticize it as "another government program". But I have never been able to go along with this criticism. I grew up with a father who understood himself as a conservative Republican who was also a dedicated public official who worked very hard. I remember him coming home from work and at the dinner table saying, "I saved the taxpayers $50,000 today" or some such number. He was a postal clerk, then a postal inspector, and finally a regional director. This page is about his career, in his own voice.

When my father died July 14, 1992, my brother, Curt Knudson, had arranged his old file cabinets to be accessible and I spent a couple days going through his papers. One of the items I found is printed below.

This photo is of my father in his office in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1957. This was the period I was in high school, having graduated in 1959, so this is the image that is my most conscious memory of my father.

After retiring from the Post Office in 1962 he and his wife, Ina E. Knudson, moved from Minneapolis, Minnesota, back to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where he took a job as Director of the Opportunity Training Center there. The document below is his letter of application for the position. And so this becomes an excellent summary of his time in the Post Office and what he accomplished. He started with humble beginnings off the farm in Manvel, North Dakota, and built a solid career of public service, while never forgetting the importance of his family.

I hope you enjoy reading more about his life.

Ed Knudson - 2/12/2013

4315 Longfellow Avenue
Minneapolis 7, Minnesota
May 24, 1962

Mr. Earl B. Anderson
502 Belmont Road
Grand Forks, North Dakota

Dear Mr. Anderson:

In view of the fact that an Opportunity Training Center (Workshop) is being activated at-~Grand Forks, North Dakota, I am hereby submitting my application for the position of Director.

I was born at Grand Forks, North Dakota, on July 2, 1905. When I was five years of age the family moved to a farm 12 miles north of Grand Forks where I grew up and graduated from Manvel High School. I was elected president of our small graduating class. I am married and have four children, two married daughters and two sons at home, ages 18 and 21. The youngest son is graduating from high school in June, 1962, and the oldest is a Junior at Saint Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota. The youngest son will also enter Saint Olaf College in September 1962. We own our home at Minneapolis, Minnesota, a summer cottage on Lake Bemidji, and a 160 acre farm located 17 miles south of Grand Forks.

After graduating from high school in 1923 I taught in rural schools in the vicinity of Manvel and Thompson for five years. On May 16, 1929, I entered the Postal Service at Grand Forks, North Dakota, as a clerk and was appointed a Post Office Inspector on July 12, 1940, assigned to the Chicago Division with domiciles at Ironwood and Detroit, Michigan. I returned to the Saint Paul Division on July 1, 1943, and was domiciled at Grand Forks, North Dakota, until July 1, 1952. At that time I had an opportunity to transfer to the Twin Cities and was domiciled at Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, until August 16, 1954, when I was appointed District Operations Manager of the Fargo office. On March 23, 1957, I was promoted to the position of Regional Operations Manager of the Minneapolis Region with headquarters at Minneapolis, Minnesota, and promoted to Regional Operations Director on April 6, 1958. I retired from the Postal Service on March 31, 1961, after almost 32 years of continuous service.

Following are brief descriptions of the duties of the positions I held in the Postal Service:

POST OFFICE CLERK: Mail handling and distribution; window work; selling stamps, accepting parcel post, selling money orders, operating the Postal Savings Bank; keeping of all postal accounts and rendering periodical reports; payroll preparation and handling of personnel forms and records.

POST OFFICE INSPECTOR: Assignments included auditing the smaller post office accounts and assisting in the audit of large post offices, including Chicago, Ill., Detroit, Michigan, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Fargo and Grand Forks, North Dakota. Investigations of matters pertaining to general post office operations including clerical and carrier needs, establishment and discontinuance of post offices, rural route changes, registered, insured and ordinary mail losses, complaints against postmasters, employees of the Service, obtaining of post office quarters, motor vehicle accidents, etc.; investigation of violations of the Postal Laws, such as theft of mail by employees and others, burglary of post offices, mailing of obscene, threatening or defamatory letters and violation of the Fraud Statutes.

DISTRICT OPERATIONS MANAGER, FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA: Generally responsible for the proper operation of the entire Postal Service in the State of North Dakota, including mail handling, financial operations, manpower, etc. Particular duties included: Making personal surveys of post offices to determine clerical and carrier needs and other matters, looking into complaints submitted by the public, adjusting window hours, recommending supervisory appointments, advising postmasters and directing the improvement of postal service in the area.

REGIONAL OPERATIONS MANAGER, MINNEAPOLIS REGION: Assisted the Regional Operations Director in all matters pertaining to Operations. Served as ROD during that officialís absence. Had direct supervision of the seven District Operations Managers and their offices (these offices were located at Fargo, North Dakota, Minneapolis and Duluth, Minnesota, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, and Green Bay, Wisconsin). Planned and supervised the organization and operation of the approximately 2,800 post offices in the Region. Supervised the determination of employee complements in all post offices. Supervised the rural route consolidation and discontinuance of post offices program in the Region. Advised District Operations Managers regarding city and rural delivery and collection service problems. Personally handled all disciplinary of employees cases in the Region and instructed postmasters as to the action which should be taken. Co-ordinated operations with other Regional Managers and handled such other matters as might be delegated by the Regional Director.

REGIONAL OPERATIONS DIRECTOR, MINNEAPOLIS REGION: Directed the management of all postal facilities in the Region consisting of North Dakota, South Dakota, Mannesota, and Wisconsin, involving approximately 2,800 post offices with 28,000 employees. Carried out policies of the Postmaster General and the Assistant Postmaster Generals in the field. Developed Regional policy. Planned and supervised in an overall capacity all post office and postal transportation service activities, including personnel, distribution of mail, transportation of mail, need for new buildings and quarters, vehicle needs, accounting, cost reduction, public relations programs, Works Performance Standards, and other matters. Controlled the budget of the Region and authorized and issued allowances to postmasters. Gave guidance to all other Regional Staff members and prepared necessary reports to the Department in Washington. (Served as Acting Director from November 1, 1957, to April 5, 1958, and Director April 6, 1958, to March 31, 1961, when I retired from the Postal Service).

Other experience information is as follows:

LAW: Studied law in Mr. John A. Alphson's office one summer.

SPECIAL TRAINING: Completed an intensive four week Management Course for Government Executives at the American Management Association, Saranac Lake, New York, in 1959 and 1960 (Two weeks each year).

PUBLIC RELATIONS: Have attended and addressed numerous meetings, including postmaster conventions, other postal employee conventions, dedication of new post office buildings, service club luncheons (Lions Club, etc.), retirement banquets, etc.

INSTRUCTION: Have lectured at numerous training sessions for regional staff officials, postmasters and other postal supervisors. CHURCH WORK: Trustee, church treasurer, chairman of stewardship committee, president of Menís Brotherhood, Sunday school teacher, Laymen's Sunday speaker, Boy Scout Committeeman, etc.

BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION EXPERIENCE: Includes personal remodeling and extension of my first home and construction (as contractor) of two new houses, one for use as a home and the other for sale. Am fairly familiar with carpentry work and have a smattering of electrical and plumbing knowledge.

As a postal inspector I made many investigations involving post office building sites and rental of buildings, including decision making as to the necessary remodeling and repairs which were needed. As a regional official I had overall charge of the post office building program in the Minnecpolis Region consisting of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Although other regional officials performed most of the actual detail work it was necessary for me to counsel them and personally review their recommendations. I served as chairman of the committee which discussed conditions existing at each office where improvements or new buildings were needed and personally reviewed and approved all blueprints and specifications prepared by the regional engineers. In the event of controversy, it was necessary for me to make personal investigation of the issues involved and make the final determination. This often included choice of site location, size of building, type of architecture, or problems relating to choice of construction materials.

In conclusion, I believe it is appropriate to inform you that at the time I retired from the Postal Service, it was with the desire and hope that I might soon thereafter be able to enter some type of employment which would have a humanitarian aspect. Directing an opportunity workshop would in my opinion fulfill that desire and from the study I have made, assisting the mentally retarded to readjust to a useful life is a program which has long been neglected and should be pursued vigorously in the future. Of course, having a mentally retarded child in our immediate family, I am personally vitally interested in the welfare of these children.

It would appear that the Director of an Opportunity Workshop should have had experience in public relations, financial record management, organization, general business operations and building construction and building management. I believe that my experience as a post office official and administrator would qualify me from these standpoints, and you may rest assured that I will be able to learn to understand and accept mentally retarded people and their problems.

I have already visited the Opportunity Workshops at Minneapolis and Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and am making other contacts in an effort to become thoroughly informed regarding these projects. If appointed Director of the Grand Forks project, I will continue vigorously my study of this program both before and after assuming duties at your training center.

The letters and related papers which I submitted to you on May 21, 1962, can be attached to this application. Other references whom you may contact are as follows:

Mr. Chris Hahn, Post Office Department, Washington 25, D.C.

Mr. Ernie Collette, Grand Forks, N. Dak.

Mr. Joe Bridston, Grand Forks, N. Dak.

Mr. Richard Blain, Red River National Bank, Grand Forks, N. Dak.

Although we are reluctant to leave Minneapolis, because of my deep interest in this project, your favorable consideration of this application will be appreciated.

Sincerely yours,


Clarence E. Knudson

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