Super Senior: Dick Walker

Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 8:20 PM EDT
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ORWELL, Vt. (WCAX) - At a quarry lake in Poultney, Dick Walker takes his golden retrievers Martin and Merlin for a swim. It’s a quiet respite for a hot summer day, but what lies around the corner is another story.

“This is my 51-year... 51st year of selling logs and selling lumber,” Walker said.

The machinery is, well, vintage.

Reporter Joe Carrol: How old is the equipment in this sawmill?

Dick Walker: Old... I’ve had good help to get stuff fixed.

On this day it’s Pat Hier doing the diagnostics. The Cummins engine is humming along but the electronics aren’t working. “Something ain’t happening,” Walker said. “We’ve never had it dead in the water.”

Blame it on the torrential rain storms this week that added moisture to the relays.

The pine logs are all harvested from Walker’s 670 acres of land in Benson will have to be cut another day. “I’ve been saying it for years, but it’s looking more and more like this might be the last year,” he said.

Reporter Joe Carrol: You’re kind of slowing down?

Dick Walker: Oh real... way down, way down!

Reporter Joe Carrol: But you keep moving.

Dick Walker: Yup. I’m moving slower, that’s the sad part.

The 77-year-old has dealt with cancer, but there’s something that brings a spring to his step His pride and joy is the round log cabin he built in the ‘70s near Lake Bomoseen. “Round is solid. You push with a bulldozer and it all pushes against itself,” Walker said. Twelve-hundred square feet of roundabout living on a single floor. “And it’s quiet -- no wind. It goes around.”

Walker’s a true believer in the architectural style, but he says most folks are squarely traditional.

Reporter Joe Carrol: You’re a pretty good salesman.

Dick Walker: No, no I wasn’t good enough, because I couldn’t get more people to come here and step inside... I talk round and they shut right up.

Reporter Joe Carrol: Too radical.

Dick Walker: Exactly.

But not for a couple in Orwell, who saw Walker’s design and wanted one of their own.

The mill may shutter, but his disk-like design will carry on. A lasting tribute to the woodsman he is. “Yup, we made it happen,” Walker said.