PROCTOR, Vt. (WCAX) Ray Beyette just celebrated his 90th birthday. Life, though, is revving along.
"I plan on living another 10 to 15 years," he said.
It's only fitting Ray would show our Joe Carroll around town in a car of the same vintage-- a 1929 Ford Model A.
"I don't guarantee you going to come back, but I'll take ya'," Ray joked.
Proctor is home.
"It's a good town for a small town," he said.
Ray was born in Shoreham and after a stint in the Army, he went to work for Vermont Marble. He spent 32 years there.
His antique car is known around town. In the Memorial Day parade, he was the center of attention, serving as grand marshal. The townspeople honored him for decades of service on the select board and as a volunteer firefighter, just to name a few.
We make a pit stop at Franklin's Restaurant for a burger and to chew the fat. It's owned by Ray's son, Frank.
"Dad comes in probably four or five times a week, which is good," Frank said.
The wings are Frank's big seller but the house special is definitely Ray.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You got yourself a young woman.
Ray Beyette: That's the only way to go.
Elise Valach, 19 years his junior, is Ray's fiancée. They met on a senior group trip.
Ray Beyette: And we sat together.
Elise Valach: On the bus.
Ray Beyette: Yeah. And then we ended up being together after that.
Ray, though, was in a dark place eight years ago when his wife, Joyce, passed away. Elise helped him out of his funk.
Frank Beyette: She's a saint.
Joe Carroll: She's a saint?
Frank Beyette: (Laughs)
No date has been set for the nuptials.
Ray Beyette: I got a lot of time yet, 10 or 15 years, so I'll make my mind up someday.
Joe Carroll: You're a pretty optimistic man.
Elise Valach: Yes. That he is.
On the road again, Ray's latest project is less than a mile away.
"We're not done yet, we have more to do," he said.
Ray is chair of the committee to restore Beaver Pond's picnic area to its former glory.
"A lot of people are using it, a lot of people," Ray said.
Including Mark Hickey. Mark is now totally blind but recalls with fondness his summers spent here.
Mark Hickey: I remember this back in high school back in '67.
Ray Beyette: that was a long time ago.
Mark Hickey: A long time ago.
They say time marches on but here there is a constant-- Ray's love of his town.
"You guys have done a great job here," Mark told him.