DELAWARE, Ohio — For years, Ed Phillips knew his mailman by only his first name.
“I always worked in the yard and he would pull up, get down, get the mail and say – hey, how are you doing?” Ed recalls while sitting on his front porch in Delaware.
From Cliff Dawkins’ perspective, he remembers those same interactions a little differently.
“No matter what season it was, he would come and get his mail and call me by my name and asked how I was doing and offered me drinks,” Dawkins explained. “I mean, he treated me like a person.”
The two quickly formed a friendship that blossomed over talks at the mailbox and sometimes walks in Ed’s garden. In 2018, Dawkins ended his mail route to become an officer with the Delaware Police Department.
“My goal in life, honestly, is to make the world better than when I found out and Delaware gave me the opportunity to do that,” he explains.
But Ed always wondered what happened to his friend. He didn’t realize how much he missed those mailbox chats until his wife Peggy passed away in the fall of 2021. Ed told his grandchildren he would love to find “Cliff the mailman.”
Stephani Osborne, Ed’s granddaughter, had heard Dawkins became a police officer. She sent an email asking if he wouldn’t mind paying her grandfather a visit given his recent grief.
“It’s one of those things where like, you know, as an officer, as a friend, as a soldier, you want to be there to try to help somebody,” said Dawkins, who was sworn in as an officer in November 2018. “Just hearing about his situation, it just hit me like – OK, I know exactly where I need to go.”
In September, Dawkins drove his cruiser back to that familiar mail route and up to Ed’s driveway. The tears started flowing.
“I said 'are you Cliff?'”, Phillips said. “He said – yes – and we hugged.”
The hugs and tears continue to this day. Officer Dawkins visits Ed often, along with other people in the community.
“I mean, as a veteran, as a person in this community, it’s not like an obligation,” Dawkins said. “I feel like it’s the right thing to do, it’s the moral compass thing to do.”
“It’s the ability to be able to do it that I’m thankful for.”