After driving more than 400,000 miles through the streets of San Fernando, Eric Williams had one final delivery — his retirement papers to the United Parcel Service after 34 years.
Williams, 58, known affectionately as “Dusty” to co-workers and customers alike, was given an affectionate sendoff on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at the UPS Customer Center in Sylmar. Parting gifts included a plaque from company officials, a commendation from San Fernando City Councilmember Sylvia Ballin, and a jacket and watch from fellow Teamsters Sam Cornejo and George Turner.
Not to mention dozens of bear hugs from the drivers.
“You guys really touched my heart,” said Williams, fighting his emotions. “You’re in my heart and won’t be forgotten.”
According to UPS officials, Williams drove 450,000 miles — the equivalent of circling the Earth 18 times — made 1.3 million stops and delivered two million packages.
All in the City of San Fernando.
“That’s amazing,” said Jorge Tamacas, Williams’ supervisor at the center.
Tamacas added that Williams was well-known for his upbeat manner at the center and on his routes.
“Next to Magic Johnson, Eric had the most amazing smile that I’ve ever seen. He always brightened up people’s day. Even if I wanted to be mad at him, I couldn’t because of that smile,” Tamacas said.
Before Williams came to the Valley, he worked for Consolidated Freightways in Los Angeles, starting in 1979. But in 1983, after being laid off, he was hired by UPS.
He never left, even though, he laughs, “I nearly died” his first day delivering packages.
Williams said his customers, both residential and business, made it easy for him to do his job.
“The people are beautiful here in San Fernando,” Williams said. “They are the most gracious. They looked out for me. If there is any driver than can call a neighborhood that they delivered to ‘family,’ that’s the folks here.”
He recalled the time “probably 20-something years ago” while making a delivery
“It was to the Munoz family on Kewen Street,” Williams said. “They insisted I come in and eat with them. They sat me down at the table, and the father of the house got up and finished his meal standing up. He let me sit in the position of honor in his house.
“When they did that, I felt so energized when I got back on the road. And from that day on they always looked out for me.
Williams said he planned to spend more time “focusing on the ministry” as an elder at the Community Bible Church in Palmdale, where he lives.
“It’s my passion,” he said.