By Kathianne Boniello
For more than 30 years Salvatore Leone delivered mail to homes, apartments and businesses around Bayside with a smile, and when his patrons learned the longtime mail carrier was going to retire, they were dismayed.
So they decided to say thank you to Leone for his years of service to their community — and they did it in a big way.
More than 100 neighborhood people packed the Prudential Long Island Realty office on Northern Boulevard Dec. 19 at a surprise goodbye party for Leone, who has been in the United States Postal Service for nearly 37 years and was due to retire Dec. 29.
“There were people there from all over the neighborhood,” Leone said last week. “I didn’t think something like this could happen. I was really amazed and touched.”
Organized by neighborhood residents Shirley and Joe Madonna, the party included donated food and drinks from several businesses on Leone’s route, including Pizza Hut, B & B Beverage and Prudential Realty.
Donna Reardon, manager of Prudential Realty, said her staff did not hesitate when it came to hosting the party. Reardon said one of Prudential’s clients even played DJ for the night.
“He’s a special man,” she said of Leone, who has had the same mail delivery route in Bayside for about 32 years. “He just goes above and beyond the call of duty all the time. He’s funny, pleasant, smiling — he’s always so good.”
Leone, known to those on his route as Sal, joined the postal service in the early 1960s when he was starting a family with his wife Connie.
When Leone was originally given his postal route, he and his family lived in Bayside. The mail carrier decided to keep his route even after he and his family moved to North Bellmore, L.I. 28 years ago, he said, because it was relatively close to his job.
The route runs along Northern Boulevard between 215th Street and Bell Boulevard and covers parts of southern Bayside and the homes just north of Northern Boulevard as well.
“They got the whole neighborhood together,” Leone said of the party. “It gave me second thoughts about retiring!”
In an age when people are less likely to have close community relationships, Leone managed to work the same postal route for more than three decades and developed a relationship with those in the neighborhood.
“I’ve seen a lot of the kids grow up, go to college and have children of their own,” he said. “I just like to serve people — you do your best.
“I enjoyed the people and I had a very good time with them,” he said. “If you come to work miserable, what’s the sense of coming to work?”
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.