The Brighton Blade
Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 10:00 pm
By Kevin Denke
Family, community mourns tragic death of longtime post office worker
Police say charges pending in accident
BRIGHTON – Earl F. Mowery Jr. was excited about the future. He told his son over dinner at a Brighton pizzeria Aug. 6 that he planned to retire from the postal service in October after 27 years.
“He told me, ‘I’ve done enough. My dad would be proud of me,’” son Tim Mowery said.
“’I’m going to go ahead and retire after elk season,’” Earl, an avid hunter, continued to tell his son. “‘I’m going to spend the rest of my life taking care of (girlfriend) Kim and spending time with the (grand) kids.’”
It was the last time they talked. A teenage motorist struck Mowery several hours later as he rode his bicycle near 12th Avenue and Walnut Street in Brighton. He was transported to Denver Health Medical Center where he later died from his injuries.
Tim says the last conversation with his father will remain with him forever.
“Word for word,” he said.
Earl grew up on the family farm near Barr Lake. He graduated from Brighton High School in 1967. Aside from a two-year stint in the Army after high school, he never left the community.
A farmer and rancher, his son said Earl had a regular routine for more than 30 years. He’d get up every morning at 5:30 to take care of his animals. Then it was off to the Tomahawk Truck Stop for his cup of coffee.
“He’d done that for 32 years,” Tim said.
For 20 of those years, Tim said he regularly joined his dad for coffee.
Then Earl would report for work at the post office at 3 p.m. and work until 11 p.m.
Tim said his father did a little bit of everything in more than two decades with the post office. He added the job was a natural fit for a genuine people person like his father. Earl’s favorite role was as a mail handler.
“He got to meet lots of different truck drivers,” Tim said. “He’d just stop and start talking to somebody. When he asked somebody, ‘How’s it going?’ or ‘How are you?’ he meant it. When he asked you how you were doing, he wanted to know.”
Earl was a practical joker at heart. Tim said there are large trays at the post office that mail handlers would sort through and then take them to the clerks who would sort the mail into boxes.
“(The clerks) always sat with their back to him,” Tim said. “He liked to go behind everybody and drop all the trays and scare the hell out of everybody.
“He thought that was funny,” Tim added with a laugh.
Jokes aside, Earl’s caring, gentle demeanor touched the hearts of people and animals. He spent the day of the accident on the farm with his son and grandkids, where he was caring for an ill horse. Tim said his father didn’t even run across a dog in all those years as a postman that he couldn’t get along with.
“My dad was the only guy that worked at the post office for that long and never been bit by a dog,” Tim said with a laugh. “Animals just love him. I don’t know what it is.”
No matter what Earl did, his son said he always did it with a big smile. As Tim and his family sorted through pictures of Earl last week for an upcoming memorial service, the smile stuck out again.
“There’s not a one of them he’s not smiling in.” Tim said as he choked back tears. “He’s always that way, even in the worst.”
Tim said the family has tried to carry on in the same manner even in the midst of their worst.
Police investigators told the family that a 17-year-old girl in a Dodge Durango ran a stop sign about 11 p.m. at the intersection and hit Earl. Tim said his father was riding with traffic, had a headlight on the front of his bike and wore a reflective vest.
“I don’t have any anger toward her,” Tim said of the teen driver. “I was 17, and I made many, many poor decisions. It just never affected anybody else. I feel sorry for her. She’s got to live with this for the rest of her life, and I hope she’s OK.
“That’s what my Dad would want, too,” he added.
Brighton Police spokesman John Bradley said charges are pending in the accident.
Tim thanked the Brighton community for its outpouring of support. He hoped they would remember Earl as his family would.
“We’ve lost our hero,” he said. “He just cared about everybody. He didn’t care nothing about himself as long as everybody else had what they needed.”
The Brighton Blade
Monday, August 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm
Earl F. Mowery Jr
He was born Oct. 18, 1948, to Earl F. and Erma (Petty) Mowery in Denver.
Survivors include companion and friend, Kim Unzicker, of Brighton; children, Tim (Sherry) Mowery, of Grover, Matthew Anderson, of Greeley, Tara Anderson, of Greeley; brother, Vernon Mowery, of Grover; sisters, Judy (Claude) Chasteen, of Humansville, Mo., and Millie (Larry) Jones, of Kremmling; and five grandchildren. A celebration of life gathering is from 5 to 7 p.m., Aug. 19, at the Brighton Recreation Center, 555 N. 11th Ave. Tabor-Rice Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.