Town of Saugerties Animal Control manager Marie Post, 88, was born in Mountain View, New Jersey but grew up in Jersey City. She first came to Saugerties as an 11-year-old, to attend the Jersey City Sunshine Camp held in the area. She went to the camp for about four years, and during that time met her future husband, Claude Post, a teenager who was working at the camp and whose ancestors go back to the founding of Saugerties. “He sent me a letter, and that’s how it all started,” she says.
They married 71 years ago, on the fourth of July, and raised five children in Saugerties. When Claude returned from serving in the army during World War II, he became a mechanic and opened the Ulster Avenue Garage while Marie stayed at home with the children until the youngest was old enough to go to school full-time. “We were just an average family,” Marie says.
She went to work at the school as a lunch monitor, but then heard about an opening at the Saugerties Animal Hospital. Post went to work there as a receptionist and veterinary assistant, then later moved over to South Peak Veterinary Hospital in Saugerties where she worked at the front desk for 19 years.
Her involvement with the Saugerties Animal Shelter began at age 67, when she was elected to the Town Board. The supervisor at the time suggested that with her background in veterinary work (and because she’d served on the board for the Ulster County SPCA), she should become the board’s liaison to the Animal Shelter, which had been in existence already for over 30 years at that point.
It was started, she says, as a way to comply with a state law that required every municipality to have a shelter for stray dogs on the loose that had to be picked up, and to have a dog warden. If a municipality didn’t open their own shelter, says Post, they could contract out with another that did. The town of Saugerties complied with the law by building a shelter out of concrete block on property they owned (the original building is still there, she says). “They put a few pens up, and that was the shelter.”
Today Marie is manager of Town of Saugerties Animal Control, which includes the animal shelter, and she manages the transfer station there as well. At age 88, she’s on call 24/7, and is the one who takes the calls in the middle of the night when a dog is on the loose and something has to be done. The shelter in Saugerties also takes care of the town of Woodstock, although they very seldom get dogs from there, she says. “I’m very proud of both the shelter and the transfer station, and of the people that work there,” says Post. “They deserve the credit. I don’t like to say ‘I,’ I like the word ‘we.’”
In addition to doing everything they can to get the animals adopted into families, the shelter maintains an animal emergency fund, and Post keeps a food pantry for pets, there, too. “If it comes down to someone choosing whether to buy soup for themselves or cans of dog or cat food for their pet, we want them to come here for the pet food. We don’t turn anyone away.”
Her life is interesting, she says, and there are happy stories, too. “You get a good feeling helping people,” she says. “We’re public servants – it’s really to help people, and that’s what we’re here for. And if we can’t help people, we can refer them to someone, so that they can get help of some kind. We do what we can.”
What do you think makes Saugerties unique, and what do you like about living here?
I don’t know where to start, because there’s so much to love and admire about Saugerties. I like the community spirit, and that’s never changed. It must be something in the water, or in the mountain air, because even the new people who move up here become community-minded. If anything, that spirit is stronger and better than ever.
When I came here as a young girl, Saugerties was very good to me. I was a stranger, and they were very kind. And look what we have to offer here: the Kiwanis, the Lions, the women’s auxiliaries, the fire companies, the Knights of Columbus, the Council of Churches Food Pantry, the Historical Society, the library; and all there to help people. Think of all those groups in one little town. I don’t know if people realize sometimes how much good these groups do. Saugerties people are pretty independent, but if someone here is struggling, they all take care of it, no matter what it is.
What quality do you most appreciate finding in other people?
Compassion. And I mean really caring for the little people. I’m strong for the little people, the ones that fall through the cracks.
Do you have any heroes?
Lincoln. Ever since I was a little child. . . and Martin Luther King. Because they both cared and had compassion. They cared for the little people. I can’t stand bigotry, and all that it stands for, and I can’t stand cruelty. I don’t mean the unintentional cruelty, but the person who is cruel verbally or physically, with animals or with people.
What character in history would you like to have dinner with?
I would have liked to talk with Martin Luther King. I would have liked to have listened to him. I admired him. Because of the civil rights, you see; I don’t know if I would have been as brave as some of those people. It took a lot of bravery to put themselves right up front like that.
What profession other than your own would you have wanted to attempt?
Law enforcement. I like law and order. Or maybe a surgical nurse, emergency nurse. . .I would still work for the animals, though.
What would you consider your perfect day off?
I’m on 24/7, so I don’t get many of those. I guess I did have a day off with my family, a couple of weeks ago, they took me to New York City and we spent the day together. We went to see “Phantom of the Opera” and then for dinner at an Italian restaurant across the street. I enjoyed that. So any day off with my family or a member of my family is wonderful. I’m very grateful, very blessed, really, to have a good family, a kind, loving family, and married 71 years.
Do you have a favorite motto or ‘words of wisdom’ that you live by?
Not really. . .I guess the old Biblical one, ‘Do unto others’. . .but everyone says that, don’t they? But it still stands.
What would you like St. Peter to say at the Pearly Gates?
I don’t know if I’d want him to say something so much, but I would just want him to open his arms, and give me a hug. I believe in hugs. It means a lot sometimes.