After 35 years delivering letters in rain and shine, sleet and snow to Alexandria residents, Dave "Boosie" Morgan made his final delivery last week, trading in his mailbag for retirement. On Sunday, residents along his route had a special delivery for him: a party and a check for more than $600.

"We wanted him to know how much he is appreciated," said Nancy McCormick, a resident on Morgan's route who, along with her husband, Brian, organized the party. "We'll miss him."

More than 50 friends and neighbors gathered Sunday under the tall shade trees of the McCormick's yard in Rosemont, a small neighborhood just west of the Braddock Road Metro station, to say farewell to a man who has become their friend.

Older residents, some who have lived in the neighborhood since the homes were new in the 1930s and '40s, kept cool by fanning themselves, enjoying the party from lawn chairs. Younger couples, more recent arrivals to the area, were there, too, with their children, who scattered about on the grass.

Twelve years of Morgan's career has been devoted to delivering mail to Rosemont residents, and until his retirement he represented a constant in their lives.

"I'd see him every morning," said Betty Alexander, who has lived in the neighborhood for 17 years. "He'd always be at my door a little before or a little after 10. He's become a friend."

"He stays in touch with all the people and gives us the gossip. He is always asking about us," said neighbor Terri Quigley.

"A lot has changed in this neighborhood since I began working here," Morgan said. "More mothers are working now, there are fewer people in their yards during the day. But I keep in touch with them, I see a lot of people on Saturdays. If you're going to work here, you might as well get to know the people," he said.

Nicknamed "Boosie" by his stepfather (he has no idea why), Morgan grew up in Alexandria, attended George Washington High School, now George Washington Junior High, and in 1955 moved from military service to the postal service.

"I like being in the outdoors, working on the street," he said.

Every morning, Morgan would rise early, go to work at 6 a.m., sort and band more than 3,000 pieces of mail, slide behind the wheel of his red, white and blue U.S. Mail Jeep and begin his rounds.

"He's a real role model for others," said Lambert Barnett, who carried mail with Morgan for 18 years and now is branch manager of the Memorial Annex postal station where Morgan worked. "He has over 2,500 hours of sick leave that he's never taken.

Although he has never missed a day, there have been the usual hazards on the job: dogs.

"Years ago, he was delivering mail and this boxer dog tried to bite him," Barnett said. "He ran in the house and the dog went running right through the screen door. Boosie either ended up on top of or under the dining room table, I can't remember which."

"I finally had to jump a fence with all the mail," Morgan said, laughing. "But I've never been bitten."

Morgan's late mother once lived on his route and served him lunch every day.

" 'Course when it was snowing outside, there was always a snow shovel next to the door that I'd have to use before I could sit down and eat," he said.

At the party, Morgan chatted with the neighbors and friends he had served for so many years.

"We're going to miss you," several women said. "Who's going to recommend a plumber or a painter to me now?" one asked.

Before being presented with a check for more than $600 and a large white cake with a postal eagle spreading its wings in frosting, Morgan said, "all I have to say is, 'How sweet it is.' "

The check will provide spending money for a trip given to him and his wife by their three daughters. "I think he wants to go to Epcot Center," said Morgan's wife, Diane.

"Actually, I might like to go to the track," Morgan said, smiling.

"It just won't be the same without him," resident Ede Thomas said.