Kay Cook suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease. She forgot about the rescue call transmitter she was wearing when she fell in her Pekin home and couldn’t get up last week.

“But she knew what a mailman was,” Melissa Kinworthy, a Pekin mail carrier and president of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Pekin Branch 209, said on Wednesday.

At times, and particularly on delivery routes they’ve worked for years in tight-knit communities, mail deliverers are virtual life savers.

Ralph Presbrey and Chris Swenson, two Pekin letter carriers, earned that accolade over the past month for acting to rescue two elderly women on their routes whose frailties they knew needed close watching.

Both “went above and beyond” their job’s duties, said Kinworthy.

“You don’t hear the good stories” about carriers who watch out for as well as deliver to their customers, said Cook’s daughter, Danielle Cook of Champaign.

Presbrey was working his route along the 100 block of South Sixth Street last Wednesday morning when he heard Cook, 85, shout from inside her home. Cook saw Presbrey through the large window of the residence she had converted from a storefront business seven years ago, a few years before Kinworthy said Presbrey had started delivering there.

“He tried (to open) her door but couldn’t get in,” Kinworthy said, but Presbrey didn’t call the police. 

Instead, he called the post office where he knew Jody Soler, Cook’s other daughter and another postal worker, was working. Soler arrived, entered the house and summoned the medical help her mother needed, Kinworthy said.

Presbrey, of Canton, may have known the family, “but he has concern for all the people on his route,” Kinworthy said. 

“Who knows how long (Cook) would have laid there” without his help, Danielle Cook said.

Another elderly woman likely would have died if not for Swenson, Kinworthy said.

Last month, “She noticed the mail was piling up” inside that woman’s mailbox along her Sunset Hills-area route, Kinworthy said. Swenson knew the woman lived alone.

Swenson alerted the post office, which contacted the police. They and paramedics found the woman on the floor in her home “in really bad shape, but they were able to save her,” Kinworthy said.

The Pekin Post Office and its union are expected to nominate Swenson and Presbrey for heroism awards recognizing their “above and beyond” service, Kinworthy said.