Every town hopes for one-- a go-to guy, a leader.
"He's always there when we need him," Ludlow Town Manager Frank Heald said.
In the resort town of Ludlow, it's Ralph Pace.
"I fell in love with Okemo as a mountain," Ralph said. "It's a friendly community; it has nice people. It's not too big."
He and his wife, Janet, moved to the village in 2000. Ralph quickly got involved in the town. He's the host of a cable TV program, the town health officer and an earnest supporter of the arts. He took the lead fixing up the local landmark.
"This is the auditorium in the Ludlow Town Hall," Ralph said. "We have installed acoustical tiles so that the hearing is much better."
Sound is important for the 79-year-old. His hearing loss might have something to do with his earliest job.
"Someone from an employment agency called me up and asked me if I wanted to be a programmer," Ralph recalled, "and my immediate response-- 'Yeah, what radio station?'"
Ralph was one of the pioneers of early computers. Back then, they were loud and large, the size of a city block with less memory than today's smartphone.
"My academic background was of history and English... of the Roman empire! The Roman empire, yes," Ralph said.
He said it wasn't a stretch. The Romans were great builders and the computer guys were building something never seen before. It was a journey that brought his young wife and family to Saudi Arabia, installing a mainframe computer for the government.
"It was an extremely interesting social experience," Ralph said.
In a Muslim country that prohibited alcohol, Ralph's creative juices flowed. He learned to make blackberry wine.
"We were a favorite spot for some of the Saudis to visit," Ralph said.
Reporter Joe Carroll: So, you ran a speakeasy?
Ralph Pace: Well... all right, I guess you can say that.
It was a two-year stint in the Middle East. Ralph traveled the world. In 1969, he was in Amsterdam listening to two Americans talking about their adventure landing on the moon. The two were Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. The space mission was the biggest technological feat of the decade. A Dutch woman asked if man had help.
"She asked Armstrong, 'When you're up there, did you think of God?' His reply was short. To me it was the ultimate response... and that was, 'How could you not think of him?!'" Ralph said.
After years of the high stress computer world, he and his wife, both natives of Springfield, Mass., wanted to come back to New England.
Ralph Pace: I have a feeling I owe the world something.
Joe Carroll: Sounds like you've given quite a bit of yourself?
Ralph Pace: Well, I enjoy it. It's a nice feeling.
Joe Carroll: You haven't lost an interest in learning have you?
Ralph Pace: Oh, no. When you stop learning, you might as well call it quits.
If all the world is a stage, Ralph has lived a full production. But it's far from final curtain call for this Super Senior. He's got more to give.
"It makes you feel very good," Ralph said.
Ralph and his wife, Janet, have three sons.
PO Box 4508