February 9, 2010

CANADA: 'Good ol' hard work' is senior's key to longevity

. MONCTON, New Brunswick / Times & Transcript / Life & Times / February 9, 2010 "I remember selling the Transcript when I was about nine years old...," says Frank (Francis) Richard of Moncton. "When the war broke out ... the lady issuing the paper in the old Transcript office on Westmorland, I believe her name was Marie Gaudet, said go on out there and holler Extra! Extra!" Born and brought up in Moncton's east end "near the synagogue on Steadman Street," he has great memories of his early days. Those include watching the (much larger) tidal bore come in, seeing cargo ships being unloaded, fishing for tommy cod, and, while he was working for a janitor after school during World War II, seeing the Halifax-bound troop trains. Frank Richard used to create miniature houses but he now uses his talent to do wood carvings of all types. Greg Agnew / Times & Transcript The son of Louis and Marieanne (LeBlanc, from Sainte-Anne-de-Kent) Richard, Frank was the third child of 11, and the oldest of five boys. He married Dorice (Richard) when he was 22, and the couple have eight children: twins Ronny and Donny; Maurice, Darlene, Louie, Reggie, Patsy and Marc, and now have 14 grandchildren, and four (and soon five) great-grandchildren. At the age of 16, visited the unemployment office in town with a view to learning a trade. He was directed to Imperial Optical on Main Street which was seeking a messenger. So he went to 691 Main Street, looked up at the building and thought, "I'm not going there." However, his mother, unaware of his visit the previous day, saw the same add for a messenger boy and sent him to apply. To his great benefit he listened to his mother. "I was in the optical business for 47 plus years -- as my first job and my last job. I started delivering glasses on a bicycle as a messenger boy and I ended up I as general manager of the Moncton Optical (the company name changed several times)." Frank loved his customers, and they loved him, and it was a sad day when retirement became inevitable due to ongoing changes within the company. "I gave a hundred plus per cent to my customers," he says. "If it's not good for me, it's not good for you. That's my philosophy." Frank Richard gives "a hundred plus per cent" to whatever he does -- such as digging a basement by hand with pick and shovel, then building his house. He's also replaced the breakwater several times at the family's Cocagne cottage -- and the cottage itself when a severe storm wrecked it in 1968. He and Dorice have also built some incredible dollhouses and miniatures. He carves wood, bowls, plays shuffleboard and pool, and once customized a van for a cross-country camping trip to Victoria, B.C.; is a longtime (now honorary) member of the Knights of Columbus; was very active in outdoor church activities in Humphrey, goes for regular walks, and is a five-year cancer survivor. Coming up quickly on his 80th birthday, Frank Richard has a tried and true recipe for happy longevity. "Good old hard work," he laughs. "Whatever you have be thankful for it, and enjoy every minute of every day!" [rc] © 2010 CanadaEast Interactive, Brunswick News Inc.