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Super Senior: Charlie Gadwah - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Super Senior: Charlie Gadwah

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WELLS RIVER, Vt. -

In the middle of Wells River, there is a landmark. It's a family business serving around 3,000 customers run by Sue Acheson and her brother Pugh Engle.  They have worked here for decades. But not as long as Charlie Gadwah.

Gadwah delivers oil in the Connecticut River Valley -- both in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You must know the roads like the back of your hand. 

Charlie Gadwah: I sure do.

In the winter he'll make 30 to 40 stops a day, traveling 100 miles delivering oil. The roads are bumpy, but not his career.  For 57 years he been working five to six days a week, sometimes making emergency oil deliveries in the middle of the night.

"He runs circles around all the other guys here," Sue Acheson said. "It's the truth."

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you think you are an inspiration to people?  

Charlie Gadwah: I don't know. I think my longevity is an inspiration to people.

Gadwah is a few months shy of 85. Like so many of his generation, he went off to fight in World War II, but he was only 16 and lied about his age to get into the Navy.  He came back and never got his high school degree -- that is his only regret. "My druthers would be if I had to do over is to have more education," he said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Have you thought about getting your GED?  

Charlie Gadwah: No...  It's too late.

His more pressing concern is what he is going to do with himself when he puts away the keys to his oil truck for good.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Could you imagine not working?  

Charlie Gadwah: No, I don't know what I'm going to do when I retire -- that's what I'm afraid of.  

He makes the rounds pulling a heavy hose, dealing with ice and snow.  Gadwah is a man who has always worked.  In the summer time when the oil business is slow, he'll mow the lawn of the business. He's figured he's painted just about every building in the village.

"He's very special to me, I was very lucky," said Patty, Gadwah's wife of 57 years. The couple has two children. "We try to take good care of him -- as good as he's taken care of us," she said.

Charlie might not be an educated man in the classic sense, but he's taught so many people in his community -- hard work, loyalty and honesty.  Something he didn't learn in the classroom, but delivering fuel on the roads and highways of the Connecticut River Valley.

Charlie Gadwah said except for some arthritis, he feels fine.  As for retirement, he's not sure when it will happen.  For now, he plans to keep on trucking.

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