Herb Rettke was employed at the downtown Edmond Post Office on Aug. 20, 1986. However, Rettke said he was not in the building when rifle marksman Patrick Sherrill went hunting for his Edmond coworkers that day.
Sherrill, a part-time letter carrier, left 14 people dead before he ended his own life with a gunshot wound to his head.
“It’s been 30 years now,” said Rettke.
Rettke has been working to have what he said could be the final memorial service on the post office grounds for those postal workers who died and others who worked there but remain alive today.
Rettke was preparing to enter the post office that day to carry out his duties as a postal carrier. When he arrived the massacre had been carried out.
A short memorial service will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20 at the bronze statue honoring those who perished.
Rettke is helping to coordinate the memorial service as it is in the process of organization. He has already contacted the City of Edmond, he said.
Those seven men and seven women who perished included Betty Jarred, Patty Husband, Tom Shader, Rick Esser, Mike Rockne, Pat Gabbard, Jonna Ruth Gragart, Patti Welch, Judy Denney, Patty Chambers, Kenneth Morey, Bill Miller, Lee Phillips and Jerry Pyle.
Jerry Pyle was the brother-in-law of Rettke. Pyle was shot by Sherrill in the parking lot as he tried to escape.
“A lot of people don’t remember that,” said Rettke’s neighbor, Martha McNeese.
Sherrill dressed in his usual postal attire, entered the east entrance of the post office shortly before 7 a.m. with his mail bag loaded with three guns before inflicting his carnage. He locked the post office doors to trap defenseless innocents.
Sherrill, 43, had been reprimanded the previous day for poor on-the-job performance.
“We have a meeting every year with the survivors and we asked the last time if we could have our 30th anniversary at the post office and they consented,” Rettke said.
McNeese said creating a program for the event is underway. They are trying to get a letter from the United States postmaster and an appearance by the Oklahoma postmaster. She said Edmond Mayor Charles Lamb will say a few words.
“We’re mainly interested in keeping the memory alive of the victims and the wounded,” McNeese said. “There will be balloons and flowers to recognize those people.”
Rettke asks for the public to assist them in finding former Edmond postal workers who had been scheduled to work on Aug. 20, 1986. They have lost contact with some families and survivors.
“We think maybe there’s somebody that knows somebody,” McNeese said.
They ask that people help commemorate Aug. 20 by placing yellow ribbons on their mail boxes that day.