Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is looking to rename the post office on N. George Mason Drive after Jesus Collazos, a beloved postal worker who died of the coronavirus.
Collazos left the poor neighborhood of his childhood, Barrio Obrero in Colombia, for the U.S. in the 1980s. He settled in Arlington with his wife, where he delivered mail for 25 years and they raised a family, the Washington Post reported last year. He was known for responding to letters to Santa Claus and for his friendly presence.
Collazos retired in 2019, and in 2020, was diagnosed with lymphoma. Before treatment could begin, he died of COVID-19 at 67.
“The Congressman found the story of Mr. Collazos’ career and tragic death during the pandemic extremely compelling, and given his service as a mail carrier it made natural sense to try to rename a postal facility in his honor,” said Aaron Fritschner, the communications director for Beyer’s office.
The post office at 2200 N. George Mason Drive serves the 22207 zip code. Beyer’s office is currently seeking local input, including discussions with Arlington County and nearby civic groups, Fritschner said. So far, the local feedback has been “very positive.”
Yorktown Civic Association President and County Board candidate Mike Cantwell said his community’s support for renaming the post office on Nextdoor was “overwhelming.”
“I personally didn’t know him and I just wanted to say after reading all those comments, I fully support renaming the post office for him,” Cantwell said. “It’s amazing to see one person so beloved by the community.”
On Nextdoor, residents remember Collazos for the way he went the extra mile to help elderly residents and always knew someone who could help with a home improvement project. They also were overwhelmingly supportive of the renaming.
“Jesus Collazos was a neighbor,” said one resident of the Leeway Overlee neighborhood. “We called him the ‘Mayor of 24th Street.’ Sorely missed and it would be such a great tribute to his contributions to our community to name a post office in honor of him.”
A Tara-Leeway Heights resident recalled how Collazos helped her mother later in life. He came up to the door, knocked and opened it, announcing himself and putting the mail on the TV stand.
“My mom thought so highly of him,” she said. “He just did stuff like that. He was a person who really ‘saw’ those around him.”
Another poster from Tara-Leeway Heights said Collazos was well-connected in Arlington.
“If we needed the name of someone to help with anything having to do with the house, he knew someone,” the poster said. “He made us all feel like we were his friends. We miss him terribly. He made such a positive impact on everyone he met.”
Another commenter recalled that when Collazos developed lymphoma, neighbors inscribed their well-wishes and prayers on a canvas, which “was carried and placed in front of his home.”
Some residents said the post office may not live up to Collazos’ legacy. The building has been plagued by undelivered and missing mail and packages, as well as some reported instances of stolen mail.
“I would hate to see a taint on his memory for ignored and continued issues at this particular [post office],” said a Yorktown poster.
But Cantwell said if the renaming goes through, there will be a big spotlight on the post office.
“Only good things happen when you have a big spotlight on something like this,” he said.
Collazos also delivered mail in the 22205 zip code, but that post office is already named for Preston King, a WWII fallen soldier, Cantwell said.
Renaming the N. George Mason Drive post office will require federal legislation.
“The renaming of federal buildings is a function of Congress, so the next step here would be legislation offered in Congress,” said Fritschner.
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