Background: Richard “Dick” VanDeWeghe was born in upper Michigan and affectionately refers to himself as a ‘yooper’. Dick was born in 1925, and volunteers once a week on Tuesday mornings at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Dick enjoys bagging small items, like drawer pulls and door knobs, and pricing. Dick has been enjoying his second marriage for 15 years. He has six children; 3 boys and 3 girls. After working at Kimberly Clark, Dick owned and operated Allied Fireplaces. He’s been retired for 30 years! Dick was a long time member of the railroad Lifesaver program as a volunteer speaker. He also would dress the part on tours and punch people’s tickets (see photo).
Why Habitat: Dick realized after much time that ‘climbing on and off trains got tiresome.’ Based on the good words of others, he chose to spend time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and the ReStore. He likes to be a part of something where he feels productive. His favorite part of being a Habitat volunteer is spending time with other volunteers and staff.
When Not at Habitat: Dick enjoys spending time with his family. He looks forward to an upcoming family reunion, (which will take place on a moving train!), where he will don a conductors cap and punch tickets for his grandchildren. He also is still an active member of the Soo Line Historical Society; helping to catalog the line’s archives. He also actively volunteers at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Appleton.
A Surprise to Others: Dick worked as a ‘Gandy Dancer’ in Chicago for some summers in his youth. Gandy Shovel Co. made shovels that tapped the gravel underneath railroad ties. This helped Dick pay for college at Michigan Tech.