Jesse Kvale takes the postmaster’s oath

Jesse Kvale, left, takes the postmaster’s oath administered by Bret Sisco, one of the Postal Service’s two managers of post office operations in the Alaska District, on Wednesday afternoon to become the new postmaster of the Ward Cove Post Office. Also participating in the event was Crystal Owen, foreground, who was installed as postmaster of the Ketchikan Post Office during a seperate installation ceremony of Wednesday morning at the Ketchikan Post Office. Staff photo by Scott Bowlen

Wednesday was a big day for the U.S. Postal Service in Ketchikan, with new postmasters installed at the Ketchikan Post Office and Ward Cove Post Office.
Crystal Owen was installed as postmaster of the Ketchikan Post Office on Wednesday morning during a private ceremony there with her family and Ketchikan Post Office personnel in attendance.
Later that afternoon, Owen, who’s originally from Kansas and most recently worked in Colorado, participated in the installation ceremony for Jesse Kvale as postmaster of the Ward Cove Post Office. 
Kvale’s installment ceremony took place outside of the Ward Cove Post Office under sunny skies, with Bret Sisco, one of the Postal Service’s two managers of post office operations in the Alaska District, administering the postmaster’s oath.
Among the attendees who spoke at the event was Michelle O’Brien, executive director of the Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce.
O’Brien began with a simple: “Welcome home.”
Kvale is indeed returning home to Ketchikan after most recently working with the U.S. Postal Service in Palmer.
Kvale grew up in logging camps in southern Southeast Alaska, graduating from Wrangell High school in 1984, and then serving in the U.S. Army for eight years. He then worked in electronics as a civilian in Germany before returning to Alaska and eventually starting work with the U.S. Postal Service in Ketchikan when Dwight Stampflee was serving as the Ketchikan postmaster. 
“I started worked here in ‘96 at the Ketchikan main office as a clerk for the first 10 years — I did a lot of all the main jobs, dispatching and, you know, the sorting of the mail,” Kvale said later on Wednesday. “But then, I became a carrier in 2012. I went up to Anchorage, went to the training academy, came back, hit the ground running and did all the downtown tour shops, which was a blast. You know, it was beautiful. That summer was great.
“Then I got my regular route, which was, Jackson, Monroe, the avenues there, and a bit of Tongass down below,” he said.
Through the Postal Service, he met his wife, Candice Kvale, who’s now one of the Postal Service’s two managers of post office operations in the Alaska District, and he moved to the Anchorage area. 
Kvale said that he qualified and trained for the maintenence crews, learning the fundamentals of industrial electrical work, conveyor systems, letter-sorting machines and a variety of other equipment used by the Postal Service. After first working in Anchorage, he worked in the Palmer Post Office in a maintenance-custodial position.
Then, “this office (Ward Cove) opened up and had been opened for quite a while,” he said. “And my wife and I have missed Southeast so much — getting out on the boat one day is like a three-week vacation for us. And so I said, ‘Yeah, we'll do it.”
Kvale was beaming during Wednesday’s event, which also was attended by Ketchikan Gateway Borough Mayor Rodney Dial.
“It is my honor to congratulate and celebrate the new Ward Cove Postmaster, Jesse Kvale,” Dial said during his remarks. “A postmaster is a valued and important position in a community full of tradition going back to our nation’s early days.”
Dial noted that Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln had served as postmasters.
“Mr. Kvale brings a lifetime of experience of living in Alaska, a deep understanding of our culture, and dedication and commitment to our community as his strengths,” Dial said. “ ... On behalf of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and the citizens of Ketchikan, thank you for your service to the community, and we wish you all the best in your endeavors.”
The Ward Cove Post Office has a storied history, and in 2007 was named by Congress in honor of Alice Brusich, who served as postmaster there for 33 years until her retirement in 1985.
In attendance at the Ward Cove event on Wednesday were Alice Brusich’s daughter and son-in-law, Bonnie and Stan Oaksmith; and granddaughter, Laura Henthorne. Henthorne currently is employed as a clerk at the Ward Cove Post Office.
Also present Wednesday were Deb Davis, commander of the American Legion Department of Alaska; and family friend, Bruce White, who led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Later, Kvale credited the Ward Cove Post Office staff for the facility’s well-kept appearance and the nicely decorated front counter area. 
He said that he was looking forward to concluding his Postal Service career at the Ward Cove Post Office.
After that, he hopes to return to one of the endeavors that his family had been involved with since the 1970s.
“I look forward to ... picking up my hand troll permit and going out fishing,” he said.