Missing Snohomish postman, now found, loved his local community
SNOHOMISH — Henry Groeneveld loved the post office and the people he served.
Always cheerful and candid, the postman approached life with arms open.
The people on his “route laid the footwork for the community I have,” said Liz Dickson, one of his daughters.
It is believed he died Dec. 11. It just wasn’t known yet, as searchers combed the area looking for him.
That morning, an incident happened that Dickson believes shook him. As she understands from those who were there, he walked out of work against his superior’s request. He then went to his home on Union Avenue, dropped off his keys and cell phone, and left saying he wanted to walk to the water.
Groeneveld, 63, went into the Snohomish River. He wasn’t seen again until his body was found last Tuesday at Dagmar’s Landing on Everett’s Smith Island some 14 miles away from downtown Snohomish.
His family is reconciling with the news he drowned. They never lost hope he was alive until he was found, Dickson said.
“(We thought) no way my dad would have gone in the river,” Dickson said. “My sisters and I are dealing with the shock of his death all over.”
During December, the community took on searching every corner of Snohomish trying to find him, with one last push Dec. 23. The Sheriff’s Office dispatched helicopters and K-9s.
According to Dickson, the workplace incident at the post office is currently under an investigation by postal investigators.
Groeneveld grew up on his family’s farm near the Red Apple grocery in Sultan. His family lives largely in-county.
He was the baby in the family, and grew up with a fascination with post offices.
However, he first set his career path to become a pastor. Groeneveld gained a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a master’s degree in theology.
The Snohomish Post Office was where he found his passion. He spent 26 years as a postal carrier, 15 of them greeting people along his route in the Roosevelt and Trombley areas. His sharp memory recalled faces months and years after meeting someone.
The children along that route knew him, and when they wrote him letters he would always write back.
Rejecting Facebook, he wrote letters weekly and he would fuss to “keep up on his correspondence,” his daughter said.
“He was so proud he could write a letter and get it delivered to me in one day,” Dickson said.
A big roll of postage stamps always came as gifts. He wanted to help preserve the United States Postal Service, Dickson said. On trips, she would photograph post offices for his enjoyment.
Groeneveld was a family man and a humanitarian.
He was involved with his grandchildren’s Awana clubs and the church ministry. He spent 20 years volunteering with the Monroe Men’s Prison Ministry.
“He didn’t care if you were poor, or homeless, or on drugs, you deserved love,” Dickson said of her father’s character.
He saw no qualms about saying hello to strangers. He approached people with kindness.
“One thing I wish he could have seen is the many people he touched,” Dickson said.
A celebration of life is being planned. Private funeral arrangements are being organized.
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