“UPS Bill” retiring Popular delivery man signing off

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Popular UPS driver Bill Theisen is retiring this week.

By Pam Reinig

Register Editor

Some people are so recognizable that all you need to mention is a single name and everyone knows whom you’re talking about. 

Adele. Gandhi. Oprah. Michelangelo—you get the idea.

Clayton County business owners and residents have their own addition to that storied list: Bill. Mention that name and folks around these parts know you’re talking about Bill, the UPS driver, or more formally, Bill Theisen.

Bill has been delivering packages and parcels in Elkader for 16 years. His name and disposition have become synonymous with top-notch customer service. “Bill is always kind and brings sunshine and humor to our day,” says Elkader Floral Shop owner Janis Lerch, one of many who commented on Bill’s ever-present smile and friendly attitude.

Bill’s career with UPS pre-dates his years covering the Elkader route by several decades. While a student at DeVry University, Chicago, the Dyersville native worked part-time for the package delivery company. He returned to UPS in October 1977 as seasonal help and was hired a few months later—March 1978—as a full-time employee. 

“I have been on virtually every road in Clayton, Delaware and Dubuque counties,” Bill said. “My first route—Colesburg, Edgewood, Greeley, Earlville, and Petersburg—kept me busy for 19 years.”

In early 1999, Bill’s route changed again and then in 2001, it changed for the final time when he successfully bid to replace retiring Elkader driver Bob Auel.

Bill’s final day will be Friday, April 28. A replacement driver should be named by mid-May.

“The next person will have huge shoes to fill,” said Elkader Care Center Director Kristin Dunlap. “We love him and will miss him!”

“Bill is just one of those people who has blended into the fabric of our community,” added Elkader City Administrator Jennifer Cowsert. “He knows everyone and everyone knows him. We probably don’t even realize how much he has been through with all of us—births, deaths, tragedies, celebrations. He has watched our families grow up and our businesses develop—all as he goes place to place and spends a few minutes with each of us.”

Bill, who’s home is in Epworth, covers 200-225 miles daily. He makes anywhere from 95-110 stops per day. He has an unblemished driving record and he’s understandably proud of it.

“I have 38 years of safe driving and conservatively, 1.7 million miles in the rear-view mirror,” he said.

An accident on December 1, 1993, resulted in a brain injury that left Bill unable to work for nearly seven months. Though the wreck wasn’t his fault, he learned a valuable lesson from his injuries and recovery: Never take life for granted.

“That’s why I often say ‘It’s a great day to be alive!’” he explained.

Bill’s retirement plans include spending more time with his wife, Angela, their three adult children, Tara, Kyle and Jeff, and their six grandchildren. Chances are, he’ll pop into Elkader, too, from time to time.

“We truly value the friendship and working relationship we’ve developed with him over the years we’ve been here,” said Mark Collins, owner of Signs ‘n Frames. We’ll surely miss, Bill,” That sentiment is shared by Collins’ dog, Lance, who was also a recipient of Bill’s good nature. Bill often brought treats to Lance.

A retirement reception for Bill will be held Friday, May 5, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Johnson’s Reception Hall. Refreshments will be served.

Comments from others

Following are a few more of the comments we received about Bill:

Bill always has a smile on his face, no matter how heavy the box he had to drag in. He will be missed. 

Becky Dietzler, 

Turkey River Mall

Bill has made such a huge impact on our community. He was so good at getting to know people in Elkader. one example he took a day of his own vacation time to help a local individual with installing a ham radio antenna so this person could get a better signal.”

Josh Pope

Elkader Mayor

He always has a smile on his face, and can make your day even when he is out in the rain and snow.

Kristin Dunlap

Elkader Care Center

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