Ashland postal deliverer Tom Koland retired Friday after 36 years with the United States Postal Service.

A veteran of the Vietnam War, Tom worked for the Postal Service in Carlsbad, Calif. before transferring to Ashland in 1983. He and his wife, Debbie, have one son, Jason, now 23. Debbie also works for the Postal Service and says she's still "got a ways to go" before retiring.

Now that he's retiring, Koland will have time for his favorite passtime, surfing. When he's not surfing, he will most likely be bicycling, snowboarding, cross-country skiing or hiking, he said.

Neighborhoods on Koland's route joined together to give him a going away party at the Briscoe Elementary School playground Friday afternoon.

"We couldn't just let him go without a fantastic send-off. He's such a great guy!" said High Street resident Karen Nollenberger.

During his 25 years in Ashland, Koland developed personal relationships on his route that people valued, according to High Street resident Su Rolle, who said Koland knew what was happening in the town, whose kids were in sports or who won awards.

"He took the time to ask about the family or do the small and generous tasks like picking up the paper and delivering it to the door of older patrons who found it difficult to bend down," Rolle said. "Tom is such a caring person and willing to take the extra time needed to let you know you're more than an address. You can't replace somebody like Tom. He'll be greatly missed."