Marlene Sholley knew something was wrong when her friend and coworker didn’t show up to work at the post office or return phone calls. Early on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 — just a few days after Artie Wartick had gotten ill — Sholley visited her friend’s home, and found her passed out and unresponsive.
After calling emergency services for her friend, Sholley had to leave because — alas — come rain or snow, the acting postmaster still had to open the post office in Selbyville.
Her quick action, selflessness and outstanding community citizenship led to a United States Postal Service Hero Award.
“It’s my true opinion that Marlene saved Artie Wartick,” said Winifred “Winnie” Martin, current Frankford postmaster.
However, the hospital needed an emergency contact, and Wartick didn’t have any family nearby. Sholley credited Martin for what happened next.
“We didn’t call the police that day,” Martin said. “We called the postal service.”
Using a letter found in Wartick’s house, Martin discovered Wartick’s 89-year-old mother lived in Missouri, where postal workers were able to make contact. Soon thereafter, Wartick’s mother and sister came to Delaware, all thanks to the USPS.
“Postal workers are the eyes and ears of the community,” said Karen McGrath, reading congratulations from U.S. Sen. Tom Carper.
Wartick had suffered a mini-stroke and diabetic coma, and she said the hospital staff were surprised that she woke up again at all.
“I’m just glad she’s here,” Sholley said.
“She’s a really good friend. I’m glad she did that,” said Wartick. “Like she said, I always returned my calls.
Wartick said other coworkers also helped care for her pets during her recovery period.
“This is one of the best stories I’ve heard in my 13 years of postal management,” said Denise Williams, senior manager of post office operations. “We need people like you working in the [USPS] family.”
U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe also sent commendations, writing that the USPS has “played an integral part” in the lives of American citizens for more than 230 years, and workers like Sholley “maintain and strengthen” the community.
Sholley received a plaque featuring the 9/11 commemorative postage stamps. In 2012, only 313 Hero Awards were given out.
“It is a privilege to have people such as yourself come to work every day,” Martin said.
“It was nothing that any other friend wouldn’t do,” said Sholley. “The biggest reward is that she’s still here.”