Super Senior: Roy Mark

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WEATHERSFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) This week's Super Senior isn't afraid of hard work. Roy Mark has been earning a paycheck since he was a teenager. And he used that same determination later in life to understand the written word.

"It's going to be a beautiful day," said Roy Mark, a tobacco chewing, whiskey drinking, hardworking man.

Mark drives a well-worn Chevy pickup. Material wealth doesn't drive him-- it's his land.

"Look at that view out there," he said.

Mark is on top of the world in Weathersfield on his 250 acres.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you still enjoy coming here?

Roy Mark: Of yeah, I enjoy it every day.

The 74-year-old owns Wellwood Orchards. He bought it over three decades ago.

"I think this is the first time I've said it in years-- everything is looking good," Mark said.

But the crops are at the mercy of the weather and market prices. The first decade in business was rough.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Was there ever a point when you were going to throw in the towel?

Roy Mark: Yup, I had it sold once. Then I backed out of it.

He's diversified through the years. Now, along with apples, he grows other fruits. The farm will have the first peach crop in three years. He also has a petting zoo and a store. Prime time is coming up after Labor Day when families come to the orchard to pick and play.

Roy Mark: I think I've come a long ways with what I had to start with.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Which was?

Roy Mark: Nothing.

He grew up in Saxtons River and hated school, leaving it in the eighth-grade. Mark admits he was a bit of a hellion.

"I got married at 16 and I went to work supporting a family," he said. "It was hard labor and long hours."

Mark said he doesn't regret leaving school but he does wish he learned to read. It wasn't until he was in his 40s that he picked up a Louis L'Amour book, a novel on the American West.

"It took me a month to get through the first little book, but I swore I wouldn't lay it down, and finished it and understood it," he said.

He read more from the author, and soon he was understanding complex legal papers that were so difficult in the past.

"After that, I was falling asleep many a nights. I was living alone. Get up in the morning and the book would be on the floor," he said.

Now divorced, the father of four has a "significant other." Lillian has been running the store for years.

"We have very little. We live in that little white house down there. I call it our shack," Mark said. "I don't need much. All I need is a place to sleep and eat."

He leaves the house at 6 a.m. and doesn't get back until 9 p.m.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Why don't you take it easy?

Roy Mark: I can't. When I take it easy they'll plant me.

The fruit of his labor made him a financial success, but educating himself has made him a better man.