Nenita (Nita) Doctolero Agmata is an exemplary postal worker. She is always very helpful, has a cheerful countenance and often asks how the customers and their families are doing.
In fact, Nita looks at postal patrons as kin.
“Over 35 years so many of the customers have become like family,” she said. “They tell me their problems. You get attached.”
An example of one of those endearing patrons was the late Gary Carlsen.
“Sometimes, I saw him twice a day,” Nita said, with tears in her eyes. “He made the room light up. There always was a big smile on his face.”
When she was informed of his death, Nita broke into tears, she said.
In addition to demonstrating the qualities I mentioned, Nita has the distinction of being the local post office’s longest-serving employee.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise that she was bestowed by her superiors with a certificate of commendation.
Nita was presented with the commendation by the U.S. Post Office regional manager from Seattle and the Alaska district manager. The commendation thanks Nita for “extraordinary service,” and identifies her as a “stalwart member” of the community who has very high work standards.
On hand for the presentation was Postmaster LuVonne Chaco and fellow postal employees, some of whom are members of her family. They included her niece, Shoog Bungay, who has worked for the post office for five years, grandson, Giani Canete, and son, TJ (Teddy Jr.) Agmata.
She was pregnant with TJ when she started working at the post office more than 30 years ago.
“I teased (TJ), (saying) ’You’ve been here all these years,’” Nita laughed.
Another family member — Nita’s older brother, Ben Doctolero — also worked for the post office years ago.
“I was so surprised” at the commendation, beams Nita, who had no idea that she was going to be bestowed with this memorable honor. Nita recalls walking by the Kodiak Post Office in the mid-1980s, telling herself that she would be working there some day.
“I didn’t have a car” at the time, Nita recalled. “We were living in the Aleutian home” area. Working at the post office “was my dream.”
Nita grew up in La Union in the Philippines. Her parents were Ken and Maxima Doctolero. Ken worked for United Airlines for over 30 years and Maxima was a seamstress.
Nita was 12 years old when she moved to San Francisco. She attended middle school and graduated from high school there.
Nita said she discovered Kodiak through her brother, Ben Doctolero, who was stationed here while he served in the Navy.
In the summer of 1974 Ben asked Nita and brother, Jun, to visit.
Nita was struck by the difference between this coastal town with its gravel roads and the huge city of San Francisco.
“Oh my goodness! What a change!” she reflects. But she got to like Kodiak.
In fact, she liked it so much that even though she was offered a postal job in San Francisco twice she opted to stay on the island. There were plenty of attractions to persuade her to take the job in San Francisco. Her brother Joe and a sister-in-law, Rosie, were working there.
Nita got a job with the Alaska Pacific Seafood meat processing plant where she met Teddy Agmata, whom she later married. Recently the couple celebrated their 41st anniversary. After working for 28 years at Safeway as the foreman of the night crew, Teddy retired.
Nita was content to work in the cannery, but she had her sights set on a postal career. When she was first interviewed to work at the Kodiak Post Office, she was really thin, she said. When she was asked to lift a 70-pound item from the floor, it was too heavy for her. “I was not qualified for the job. They told me to keep on practicing.”
When Nita was called in for another interview, she had just gotten off a 36-hour shift at the cannery.
In this interview, Nita was not required to do heavy lifting.
Nita was hired by the post office, but was classified as a casual employee, earning $6.25 per hour. She had been making $10 an hour at the cannery. with guaranteed work. But there were no guaranteed hours at the post office. ”They called you whenever they needed you,” she said.
By taking the job, she was also taking a risk. “We had just bought a home,” and the Agmatas had children to raise.
Nita needed a back-up plan. She got a job at Safeway, which had just opened up in Kodiak, and went through a cashier-training program.
She and other Safeway employee candidates had to take a test in order to be hired. There were “only seven of us that passed,” she said.
Nita juggled her time between working at Safeway and the post office and being a mom to students who were involved in school activities.
“My husband worked at night at Safeway, so we had to make it so someone would be at home” with the kids, said Nita.
In 1987, shortly after Nita got a job at Safeway she was offered the job as a career employee at the post office.
“That was a big relief to me,” Nita said.
Nita put in her resignation notice at Safeway. “The manager was not too happy,” Nita recalled. “But he said, ‘If I were in your shoes, I’d do the same.’”
At the time, JoAnn Demke was the Kodiak Post Master and Alan Bernard was the supervisor. “I’ve been through five post masters,” Nita said. With the new hire, Richie Barton, it will be six.
Reflecting on more than 30 years at the Kodiak Post Office, Nita said it has been good for her and her family. “I’ve been able to provide for my children,” she said.
Nita also appreciates the many friends she has made as distribution/retail clerk.
“Up to this day,” Nita remembers who the patrons are. “I may not know them by name, but I know them by their post office box number,” she said.