On July 5, 2016, Richard “Dick” Handy celebrated his 102nd birthday at Life Care Center of Plainwell, Michigan, where he is a resident.
The center threw a karaoke party for Handy on his birthday, and the following Sunday, he celebrated with more than 150 family members at Grove Street Café in Delton.
Born in Marion, Michigan, Handy worked on a farm from the age of 11 to the age of 27, when he married Roberta Jean Peters. Handy then went to an auto diesel mechanic school in Nashville.
Handy was a smart student and rose to the top of his class. He was only one question away from having the first perfect score on the school’s final exam. Many years later, he still remembers that test and that his first impulse on that question would have been correct.
“One should always trust their gut,” he said.
Handy spent a year working for the Civil Conservation Corps on the shores of Lake Michigan. He was part of a group that collected pinecones and turned them in to a truck at the end of the day to harvest them for seed. He remembers that a few of the workers came up with a plan to collect more than a day’s worth, hide them from pickup until the next day and then steal away to go for a dip in Lake Michigan.
“It wasn’t my idea,” Handy said, “but I did enjoy it!”
Handy and his wife had two children, Daniel and Penny Lou. When he looks back on his life and raising children, Handy said that some of his fondest memories were when he and his wife would hop on the motorcycle and sidecar and go fishing for the weekend.
Always a lover of the outdoors, Handy took up woodworking later in life. He had his own woodshop at home, and another when he moved in with his son. He specialized in crafting wooden games, puzzles, boxes and toys, and he loved to listen to wooden dulcimer music. Daniel remembers that his father used to be quite the dancer and would “kick up his heels even.”
In 1990, Roberta suffered a stroke, and Handy took care of her until she passed a few years ago. One of their favorite memories from their older years was taking a four-day cruise on a steamboat in St. Louis, Missouri.
“We had such a great, memorable time,” Handy said.
When asked the secret to his longevity, Handy said, “It just happened!” and then remarked, “Love is the secret to living a happy life.”
His advice for the younger generations?
“Spend more time outside,” Handy said. “You don’t need money to have fun and enjoy life. A simple life is so much better.”