By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Although Marvin Stallworth has for the past several years served as an ardent ambassador for the U.S. Postal Service as he delivered mail to individuals, families and businesses across Atmore, his unexpected death last week has had a much farther reach than the walls of the local post office.
The 54-year-old U.S. Army veteran, for whom the postal service became a second career, passed away at his home shortly after attending a church revival service on the night of August 22.
“His wife (Lynn) said he had just gotten home from church and went into the bedroom to get ready for bed,” Atmore Postmaster Lester Cogollo said. “He put on his CPAP mask (a device for those who suffer from sleep apnea and similar disorders) and lay down when she heard … a noise. She tried to resuscitate him, and the EMTs tried to resuscitate him, but they weren’t able to.”
Cogollo said the late letter carrier loved people, especially children, and that the feeling was mutual.
“He worked all five city routes, and everybody knew him,” the local postmaster said. “He was well-liked and admired, and he had a big heart for children. He was very active in the community and he did a lot of things personally — even when he was off work — that most people don’t know about. He went above and beyond the call.”
The announcement of Stallworth’s untimely death prompted an outpouring of sympathy from Atmore News Facebook friends and followers.
“My family met Mr. Marvin on Christmas Eve Eve [Dec. 23] this past holiday,” wrote Leslie Respress Sellers. “He stopped his route, came into our home, and we prepared him a to-go breakfast plate. He took his plate and continued his route. I still remember his smile. It was something we will always remember, the morning our postman came to our annual family Christmas breakfast.”
Terry Snellgrove said Stallworth was “a very nice person” and “a great mailman.”
Cogollo agreed, noting that the popular postman worked at the post offices in Evergreen and Brewton before being lured to Atmore, where he quickly earned the respect of his peers.
“He worked with USPS for about 12 years after retiring from the Army, and I brought him here from Brewton a few years back to fill in for all the other carriers when they went on leave or on their off-days,” he said. “He would reach out to anyone. He did a lot of things right here in this office that most people don’t know about, and he was always asking his co-workers about their kids and families.”
A pair of postal clerks recalled those characteristics, as well as their former co-worker’s spiritual faith.
“He loved the Lord; he would pray with you when no one else would,” Veronica Spoon said. “I don’t guess there was a day that he didn’t come in and have you laughing about something. He always kept a smile on everybody’s face, no matter how bad you felt when you came in. You couldn’t be down; he wouldn’t let you.”
Stephanie Spann echoed those sentiments.
“If you were down, he would always lift you up with words,” she said. “He was a hard-working, fun-loving guy, and he will be missed.”
The postmaster, who noted that a grief counselor was in Atmore last week to help other postal workers deal with the loss, said Stallworth embodied the cliche, “going postal,” but not in the negative way the phrase is usually used.
“What Marvin did, that’s going postal,” the postmaster said. ”He gave that saying a whole different meaning. He was a good man and he’ll be hard to replace in this community.”