The U.S. Postal Service has no official slogan, but the creed scripted on the façade of New York’s main post office has become a familiar saying: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
But for many black Americans, the position of postal carrier, and the ability to live up to those hallowed words, was not available.
Miami-born Archie Ayers became one of the first black U.S. mail carriers when he accepted a post office job in Miami after serving in the Army during World War II.
Born in Overtown, Ayers, 87, died June 22 after a long illness. He had been married to community activist Georgia Jones Ayers, a Booker T. Washington Senior High School classmate, since 1971. And while she was known for her vocal activism on behalf of the community, her husband was the quiet force.
“I've always been a big mouth against what is wrong. You get out of life what you put into it,” Georgia Ayers said in a 1997 Miami Herald profile. Her husband, then a retired letter carrier, was “the greatest man I know,” she said.
Niece Carolyn Boyce chuckles when describing the relationship.
“He was a very lovable person. He was the peacemaker of the family. Knowing that Georgia was hardcore and a firm disciplinarian, Archie was the one who gave us a break,” Boyce said, laughing.
“Caring for him during his illness was a joy and a pleasure because he was so uplifted,” she said. “He was asking every day, ‘Are you doing all right? Are you living right?’ He was the key to our inspiration as a family, and he nurtured us.”
His strength was quiet and powerful.
“He supported Georgia. He never stopped her doing all the things she did for the community,” Boyce said. “Even in his illness, he’d get his walker and say, ‘I’m going to protect Georgia.’ That’s the way he was.”
In addition to his wife, Ayers is survived by daughters Avette and Arvolene from a previous marriage. The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Range Funeral Home, 5727 NW 17th Ave., Miami. A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at Mount Hermon A.M.E. Church, 17800 NW 25th Ave., Miami Gardens.