By Sara Jane Richter
After 30 years in the US Postal Service, Kingfisher Postmaster Gary Townsend works his final day Friday, July 14. Retirement has come for a man dedicated to serving friends and family in the State of Oklahoma. However, his greatest pleasure came during his tenure in Kingfisher where his extended family and good friends live. Kingfisher is also his hometown, and he feels a great sense of pride to work for the community where he has the deepest roots. Working amongst his life-long community gives him the greatest satisfaction.
Having worked up and down Highway 81 and along other Oklahoma roadways, Gary served post offices in Hennessey, Enid, Woodward, and McAlester, just to name a few of the postal facilities where he worked, filling needs wherever there was one. Post-retirement, he will miss the postal service network of friends and colleagues, but most of all, he’ll miss the “regular” customers that he’s seen for several years. He is anxious however to retire for the excitement of doing something different and creative after having lived a life amid letters and packages.
Gary has a unique hobby, and he is passionate about it. He and his son Greg make custom cowboy boots. His love for boot making comes from his living the life of a cowboy; he’s participated in ranch rodeos for many years, started colts for other people, traveled to distant locations to help with spring cowherd responsibilities, and has owned his fair share of horses.
He became interested in boot making when he worked in a family member’s boot and shoe repair shop several years ago. “After repairing and taking apart many boots, I figured I could just build a pair myself,” and he has done so. As a matter of fact, he has made boots for friends and family members often, but now, he’ll make them to sell. Customers can select their favorite stitching patterns, heel style, colors, inlays, and leathers and order up what they want crafted. Gary and Greg will make a pair of boots as fancy or as plain as the customer wishes.
Gary takes care of the insoles, soles, vamps, and leatherwork while Greg does the stitching and leather cutting. All of this attention to these hand-made details takes time, for even laying down one row of stitching on a boot top will take at least an hour’s effort. Considering that some tops might have 3 to 10 lines of stitching, the time and expertise expended multiply rapidly. The cost of such a pair of boots begins at $1,250, well worth the price considering the effort that goes into the design, development, and completion of the work of art.
Father and son call their shop “GWT Boots” as both Greg and Gary have the same trio of initials. Sitting beside Gary’s new home is a metal cargo container which serves as the office and work space of GWT Boots. It is outfitted with doors and windows on the outside and boot making equipment inside. It’s a perfect haven for a man wishing to change direction in his life, but who still wants to stay in the same place where he’s felt the most comfortable—Kingfisher. He won’t have stamps to sort or mail routes to inspect now, but he’ll be knee deep in colorful leathers, shapely inlaid brands and flowers, and sturdy stitched threads around the tops of comfy, practical, long-lasting boots, custom made to the specifications of a cowboy or a cowgirl or a wanna-be, like me. Gary will walk into a new career that he is eager to see come to life, allowing him another legacy to develop in Kingfisher County.