KEENE VALLEY - Residents of Keene and other nearby villages paid special tribute last weekend to a man they say went above and beyond the call of duty.
Randy Senecal, who for the past 20 years has driven his UPS delivery truck through the villages of Keene, Keene Valley, St. Huberts, and New Russia, was honored with a retirement party at the Keene Valley Congregational Church Jan. 10.
About 100 people packed the VanSantvoord room adjacent to the church sanctuary, giving Senecal a warm and unexpectedly large reception.
Donning nametags made from UPS shipping labels, party-goers enjoyed refreshments while taking time to thank Senecal personally for his devoted service.
Community members recounted fond memories of how Senecal went out of his way to provide excellent delivery service; driving up steep driveways with ice and snow, giving treats to family dogs, and getting packages to the right place even when they were improperly addressed.
One Keene resident, Pat Kirmer, even recalled how Senecal once found him on a hike and notified him of his wife having a panic attack.
"I've never forgotten that," Kirmer said.
"When I first started, the houses weren't numbered," explained Senecal. "A lot of streets didn't have street names, so I had to learn my full route by name." That, he said, forced him to get to know his customers and their families.
"I have pride in what I do and I want to make sure that these people here use UPS, and the way you do that is treat them how they should be treated," he added.
To show their appreciation, residents presented Senecal and his family with a pair of Adirondack chairs, hand-painted with the Town of Keene logo. Also included was a check for $700.
Church pastor Rev. Milton Dudley said the gifts were possible thanks to many small donations from local residents. Altogether, $2,000 was collected to fund the party and gifts.
"He's just gone above and beyond what anybody would expect a delivery person to do," Dudley said. "He's touched people's lives."
A Peru resident, Senecal started as a UPS driver 30 years ago in Plattsburgh. He began driving his current route in 1988, working an average of about 11 hours per day.
When asked what aspect of his job he enjoyed the most, without hesitation Senecal pointed to the people in the room and said, "right here."
"Because of all the hours I worked, my wife quite often would say, 'why don't you bid another route,' but once you get down here and start delivering to these people and get to know them, there was no other option for me," Senecal said, "This is where I belong."
Because of his longstanding relationship with members of the town, Senecal wasn't entirely surprised by the outpouring of support. "Having said that, it still blows me away," he said. "The generosity and sincerity of these people is unsurpassed."
"Overall, the whole evening is just something I'll never forget."