He’s seen fire, he’s seen rain


    Neither rain, nor mud, nor rocks on the road could stay his couriers from their appointed rounds, said Lee Gustafson, who retired last Thursday after 18 years as Malibu’s postmaster.

    “We only missed delivering the mail one day, and that was November 4, 1993, the second day of the Topanga-Malibu fire,” he said. “We did get the station open that day.”

    He has been through the fires of 1983, 1985, 1993 and 1996, not to mention dozens of storms, floods, mud flows, rock slides, road closures and other disasters endemic to Malibu. Just getting to work has often been a challenge.

    Still, he’s found time to write — he co-authored two books on the history and development of railroad depots in California. “I will now have time to complete the third and final volume,” he said. “I also plan to spend more time traveling the United States and visiting Europe.”

    Married with two children, Gustafson resides in Thousand Oaks. His hobby, buying and selling (on the Internet) antiques and collectibles pertaining to American transportation, will now become a full-time business.

    During his tenure as Malibu’s postmaster, he has received various awards, mainly for customer service, and outstanding merit ratings and superior achievement awards. He also received an award for mail delivery during the civil unrest in Southern California.

    Gustafson began his postal career in 1963 in Culver City as a distribution clerk, switching to letter carrier the next year. He entered the ranks of management in 1972 and was promoted to manager of Gateway Station, Culver City, in 1977, then to manager of Customer Services in 1978. He was officer-In-charge of the Gardena Post Office in 1981, then appointed as postmaster of Malibu Nov. 30, 1981. He served in the U. S. Army from 1965 to1967.

    During his term in Malibu, mail service has expanded considerably with the opening of two post office box units, at Carbon Beach in 1982 and Zuma Beach in 1984, the addition of Colony Annex in 1986, the opening of the new Point Dume Station on Heathercliff Road in 1992 and the relocation of the Colony window and box facilities to the Malibu Colony Plaza in January 1992.

    “I’m especially proud of the 77 employees of the Malibu Post Office and of their ability to go above and beyond the call of duty to safely distribute, process, deliver and dispatch the mails of the Malibu community during the various crises that Malibu has had to endure.”