Thursday, February 23, 2017
By Janice Odom
Despite an hour and a half commute each way every day, Armando Villalon, 44, sees his latest career move as a real blessing.
Last December, Villalon, who has been with the United States Postal Service some 24 years, all of which were spent in his native Laredo, left behind a much more stressful position as postmaster in the much larger border city to take the same position in Pearsall.
And even though he said he was hesitant to downgrade from a large office to a much smaller one, "after the first couple of days, I knew I had made the right decision."
"It was very different going from 300,000 population to 10,000 or so, but I needed a change of pace – something nicer, quieter, calmer," he added. Villalon joined USPS in January 1993 at the age of 20 while still a student at Laredo Junior College and quickly worked his way up through the ranks. "By June 1995, I was training as a supervisor (a rank he achieved by November 1997), and in October 2000, I became manager of the Del Mar Post Office, a new station that we opened in Laredo."
He stayed in that position until January 2009, when he was named postmaster.
Born and raised in Laredo, Villalon said he always planned on staying in his hometown, but now that his children are growing up and gravitating toward Austin and San Antonio, he saw an opportunity to look at other opportunities for himself.
"Throughout the very first parts of my career, I was thinking about going up (the ranks), but right now, after being here in Pearsall," he said, "I think I like this. It’s just a different pace."
Villalon added that he has even gotten used to the commute.
A devout Catholic, he said, "It's good for me because I get to pray. In Laredo, I was always in a rush. I would wake up, pray for five minutes and rush to work. Here, I have an hour that I can pray. …I have time to pray coming and, then going, I have time to listen to the radio or pray again. I have quiet time."
While he said he would eventually like to move to the area and maybe buy a small farm, Villalon said that he has his family to consider.
He and his wife, Mary J., who will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on April 24, 2017, have three daughters. One will be working on her doctorate in occupational therapy at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, another has one more year at Texas A&M International University in Laredo before entering law school at UT Austin, and the youngest will graduate this spring from high school after only her junior year.
Also, Mary J. has a job she loves. "She has worked at St. Vincent De Paul Church since she was a teenager," Villalon noted, "so that's another thing we have to consider.
"Though we will most probably be moving to the area, we're still waiting on when will be the best time."
One thing that is for certain, the former Laredo postmaster feels that he has definitely found a new home.