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Joyce Endee

Bethlehem's Trainor accepts Heritage Cane with gusto and stamina

Photo by Jeff Woodburn Richmond Patrick Trainor. (click for larger version)
May 29, 2011
BETHLEHEM - Receiving the Boston Post Cane, and being recognized as the oldest person in town, is not something everyone wants or accepts. Some have been known to refuse it or take it only begrudgingly, but not Richmond Patrick Trainor. The 95-year-old Bethlehem man accepted the cane-- which in Bethlehem is called the Heritage cane -- with unusual gusto and remarkable stamina.

When Trainor arrived at the crowded Bethlehem Heritage Museum on Saturday morning, family and friends watched as he pushed his wheelchair-bound wife, Geraldine, up the ramp and as he passed through the door the chair got caught up on the threshold. But it hardly slowed him down, the nonagenarian singlehandedly lifted and readjusted the chair's footing and got past the problem. From there, Trainer stood for nearly an hour greeting well-wishers and patiently answering question from the local media. He hardly acts his age, his family members said, he maintains his lawn, takes care of his household, plays golf and last year renewed his driver's license for another four years.

Trainor entertained the crowd with a short speech about his long life. "The years have just gone on," he said, "What did I do (to live so old)? I didn't do anything. All you have to do is just hang around." He credited his wife for his longevity. The couple will celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary on June 9. For the last few years, they traveled to Manchester each October to celebrate the Catholic diocese's most enduring marriages. "We are the longest married couple in the diocese of New Hampshire," he said.

Trainor, who has been a contender in the past for the Heritage Cane, but lost out to slightly older residents, said that his wife, Geraldine, is next in line to receive the cane, if something were to happen to him. "I better watch my back," he joked, "she may want it."

Born and raised in Lawrence, Mass., Trainor recalled that three things that happened in 1927, when he was 11-years-old Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic Ocean, Jack Dempsey lost the boxing title to Gene Tunney and his father died.

Trainor served in World War II in the U.S. Army's Rainbow Division and actually visited Adolf Hitler's principal bunker, known as the Eagles Nest in Berchtesgaden, Germany at the conclusion of the war. For many years, he was an electrical engineer at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. After retirement, he and Geraldine moved to Reinfrew, Ontario to be closer to their children. At 66, Trainor took up curling and was part of a championship team for his age group. The couples have lived in Bethlehem for many years. They have three children -- Carol Houghton, Kate McCosham, and Michael O'Traynor and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Dick Robie, of the Bethlehem Heritage Society, said the old Boston Post Cane had been lost for 25-years and finally it is back in the possession of the local historical society and they're reluctant to let go of it. Trainor left with the Heritage Cane, but he hardly needs it. To view an extended video interview with Mr. Trainor go to www.WhiteMtNews.com.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
Garnett HIll
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