A small framed list on the wall of the West Tisbury post office lists the names of each of the town’s postmasters. Soon, a new name will be added to the lineup — postmaster Paula Sullivan retired Dec. 31 after nine years of service in the town, capping a postal service career of nearly 30 years.

After starting her career in 1986 at a post office in Medfield, where she worked the retail window and was a distribution clerk, Mrs. Sullivan went to the next level. She learned to manage bulk mail, and went to school within the post office to be an automated mail analyst.

“It was the beginning stages of automated mail, when mail changed from being sorted by hand to being sorted by machine,” Mrs. Sullivan said in a recent interview. She worked in the Medfield area for 16 years, eventually becoming a delivery supervisor.

Joining the ranks of past postmasters. — Ivy Ashe

Mrs. Sullivan and her family had vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard for years, and when a job opened up on the Island at the same time Mrs. Sullivan was becoming an empty-nester — one son was in the Peace Corps, the other was at college — she decided to throw her hat in for a position in Chilmark.

“I thought well, why not, what’s stopping me right now? What a great place to be,” she said. She got the job and became Chilmark postmaster. Her house was in Vineyard Haven, though, and when a postmaster position opened up in West Tisbury she applied for that job to be a little bit closer to home.

“And here I am,” she said.

Being in a post office is a feast-or-famine job, she said. There’s no way to predict how much mail will come in on a given day, so adaptability is crucial for success. It’s often a physically demanding job, now that parcels and packages take up more of the post office’s workflow.

But the friendliness of the customers and the staff made it a pleasure to come to work, Mrs. Sullivan said.

She joined the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters, and went shorefishing as often as she could. In 2005, she was asked to join the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby committee.

“It’s an opportunity to give back to the community, and also to be with friends doing something you really love to do,” she said.

No way to predict how much mail will come in each day, Mrs. Sullivan said, but friendliness of customers was guaranteed. — Timothy Johnson

Joe Massua, who took over for Mrs. Sullivan as Chilmark postmaster, also retired this year. The two met during derby season and were soon talking shop about both fishing and the postal service.

“The community’s been good to me,” Mrs. Sullivan said. “I’m just so happy to live here.”

She said she was grateful to the town and to her customers for their support and kindness.

“Everybody who’s been so cooperative through all these years we’ve worked, because it’s something that makes my job easier,” she said. “They made me feel like a part of the community.”

“I think the post office is one of the last places where customers meet and socialize, as well as come to get their mail,” Mrs. Sullivan said. “It has a function physically, but mentally too.”

Edgartown postmaster Deb Little is filling in for Mrs. Sullivan as the postal service searches for her replacement.

Friends and family have asked Mrs. Sullivan what’s next as she begins retirement, but she says there are no great plans. There is time for more fishing and shellfishing, time to read more books and to focus on family. One of Mrs. Sullivan’s sons lives in Ethiopia, where he is community director for Catholic Relief Services.

“They come in the summer, but I really have not been able to see them much because this is our busy season. It’s just nice to be able to spend time with family,” she said.

“I feel like I have a weekend off, but it doesn’t end.”