Super Seniors: Dick Swift - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Seniors: Dick Swift

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BARRE, Vt. -

Spring has arrived and many students are looking forward to summer vacation. But Dick Swift wants to go to school -- in fact he's there everyday.

A school by its very nature can be loud, chaotic and full of youthful exuberance.

But there's a calmness too at the Barre Town Elementary School. Dick Swift is their quiet presence.

For almost 15 years, he's been a substitute teacher, mostly at this school. The 83-year-old isn't slowing down.

"I think in the back of my mind I always wished I trained to be a teacher," Swift says.

He's owned a bread franchise, been an insurance inspector, done a whole bunch of odd jobs, but at an age when most people are retiring, he took on education.

"Teachers are leaving and I'm starting and I'm twice their age," he says.

A 14-year-old suggested Swift for our Super Seniors segment.

"Even though he has hard things going on in his life that would usually change a person he is still the same kind, gentle-hearted, helpful, funny guy he has always been," says eighth grader Shelby Jewett.

She's writing about Dick and his wife Mabel. In January she suffered a stoke and was admitted to a rehabilitation facility. She also suffers from dementia.

"Right now she has one thought on her mind -- going home," Swift says.

Dick says he's unable be able to take care of her at home. It's a dilemma older people are having as they live longer. He feels guilty. The school is his solace, but at home his mind focuses on his wife.

Their anniversary is coming up.

"I don't think she said I do, she meant to," he says.

Sixty years ago the shy country girl married this local boy and raised a family. Next week they will have a small celebration with the kids.

"He deserves to know what people think of him and I'm not the only one who feels this way," Jewett says.

But Dick doesn't want pity -- he's here to help out children. These students have never know a time when Mr. Swift hasn't walked the halls.

"I guess subconsciously they accept me and I certainly accept them," Swift says.

With spring arriving and summer vacation on the minds of many of the kids, there's an assembly on student behavior.

But it turned into an impromptu celebration of a man's life.

"He wants to help the children and the next generation," says one student.

"He put other people ahead of himself," says another.

"Thank you so much, I love you all, I want to keep doing this -- can I keep doing this?" Swift asks.

"Yeah!!" the students say.

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