Editor’s note: In 300 words or fewer, this series spotlights people in our community whose stories typically go untold.
By day, Elbert Johnson proudly dons his uniform and greets the many familiar faces on his mail route. By night, he’s a devoted family man and passionate artist.
For 18 years, Elbert has delivered mail to the UT area, earning him the nickname “Uncle E” around campus.
Before that, starting in 1976, Elbert served in the U.S. Army for four years, including a 33-month deployment to Germany.
While in the military, Elbert met his future wife on the highway. She was driving with her headlights off, and he tried to warn her. Later that night, he ran into her at a club in Wichita Falls, Texas, where they exchanged contact information.
“She tried to get me to go outside and pull up her car for her,” Elbert said. “I told her, ‘Hey, I’m no valet parking.'"
One year later, they began dating and eventually married after five years.
“She’s my backbone now,” Elbert said.
Prior to his military service, Elbert developed a passion for painting and drawing.
Elbert majored in mechanical drawing at Cameron University, but he never pursued art full-time due to financial concerns, something he says he still regrets. The post office offered better pay, and he decided to pursue that career instead.
“Instead of going for the money, I should’ve went after my first love,” Elbert said.
But art isn’t his only love. He and his wife now have four kids, and Elbert’s only daughter graduated from college in 2013 — one of the most impactful events in his life.
Though Elbert plans on becoming a full-time artist after retirement, as of now, he’s content with his career as a mailman.
“You meet different people and I feel like I learn different things every day from UT students,” Elbert said. “I just love the job.”