Super Senior: Rene Fournier

Published: Jun. 21, 2018 at 3:27 PM EDT
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Rene Fournier is a seller of farm equipment -- a modern day "horse trader" who started the business six decades ago.

He bought his land for a thousand bucks. "Well, it's certainly an improvement from what it was," Fournier said.

With his son Paul at the wheel, we ride around the property that has now grown to acres of equipment.

"Take care of your people and you'll get good people," Fournier said.

Fournier is a self-proclaimed wheeler and dealer. Being fluent in French is a bonus, especially when buying and selling farm equipment in Quebec.

"Oh yeah, I've had my ups and downs. There has been some close calls," Fournier said.

The business has made Fournier a wealthy man. Now retired, his three sons run the place. "They left me here, I don't know why," he said.

Memories line the wall of his office. "I have birthday greetings from our beautiful Queen in England," Fournier said.

Both he and Queen Elizabeth were born on the same day. He wrote a hand written letter wishing her a happy birthday and a letter came back thanking the American. "Ah, it's quite an honor, it is," he said.

There's also a picture of he and his wife, Noella, posing with first lady Rosalynn Carter.

But his most vivid memories go back to the Pacific fighting the Japanese. "I was in approximately 16 different invasions," Fournier said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You saw men die?

Rene Fournier: Oh, you bet I did.

Fournier went into the Navy at just 17. He was assigned to a Land Ship Medium, or LSM, amphibious assault ships used to transport light armor to the beaches during the invasions. "That was the real war when you see it in the raw like that," he said.

After the war, he came back with a purpose. "Life is a risk to start out with, you'll never progress until you do take risk," Fournier said.

Now 92, he has time to relax. And instead of dodging bullets in the Pacific, he sets out in the calm waters of Lake Champlain in one of the most unique houseboats on the lake. The ride takes us through North Hero. Fournier savors the days on the boat. "Our French Canadian culture -- you know there are people who still know how to work hard and to play hard," he said.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Nothing was given to you right?

Rene Fournier: No, we were just as poor as you can be.

It's what he saw in war that made him realize that there are no promises in life. "Life is too short not to get every bit out of it," he said.

A promise kept.