DeRyckere likes to drive over to Canadian Tire or Walmart
just to look around and pass the time. What makes this remarkable
is that he celebrated his 100th birthday last December and
just had his license renewed until April 10, 2021.
10.2 million licensed drivers in Ontario in 2017, only 152
were 100 years of age or older.
Portobello centarian Richard DeRycker, stands beside
his shiny red 2017 Buick Encore which he drives three
or four times a week to go shopping or to just go out
for a ride around town. HEATHER JAMIESON PHOTO
has clearly aged very well. As the oldest resident at Revera
Portobello Retirement Living in Orléans, where he has lived
for the past 11 years, DeRyckere is as surprised as anyone
that he reached his 100th birthday. He laughs about looking
in the mirror and asking: “What are you supposed to look
like or feel like at 100? How the hell did you make it?”
Winnipeg on December 7, 1918, DeRyckere was the youngest
of three children. His parents had emigrated from Ghent,
Belgium, in 1911.
he concedes luck and genes have a lot to do with him exceeding
life expectancy by almost 20 years, he attributes advances
in medicine and medications as major contributors to his
had heart issues that were resolved with stents. Since his
cataracts were removed, he only needs glasses to read fine
print, doesn’t need hearing aids and his memory is impressively
sharp as he recalls his life’s events.
he suffers from a “worn out knee” and is too old to qualify
for a knee replacement, he doesn’t let it slow him down.
In fact, his spacious studio apartment at Portobello is
at the rear of the building requiring him to walk a long
corridor to the elevator to go down for his meals, events
and shopping. He
won’t move to a more convenient room because he likes the
exercise and the sunrises he can see through his window.
in Ottawa began in 1940 when he signed up for the Air Force
and came to Uplands Air Force Base for basic training. He
shipped out to England as a fighter pilot in 1942 and mostly
flew the De Havilland Mosquito and the P51 Mustang.
were paid less on days they didn’t fly. With a shortage
of aircraft and sufficient commissioned officers to do the
bulk of the flying, non-commission pilots DeRyckere and
a buddy opted to work in the maintenance hangar. It gave
them steady work and a steady paycheque. “And we knew the
aircraft inside out,” he says with pride.
service and love of planes is clearly evident on the walls
of his room, which are adorned with posters of airplanes,
photographs and a framed set of his five service medals.
He is particularly proud of a medal he received in 2002
from the Kingdom of the Netherlands acknowledging his contribution
to the liberation of Holland.
Volunteer Service medal, with its Dieppe Bar, shows he participated
in the historic Dieppe Raid on August 19, 1942. Another
wall has the framed certificates recognizing his 100th birthday
from the Queen, Governor General, Prime Minister and Mayor.
in warm sepia tones, is of his late wife, Marina Algozino,
who he married in 1945 after he returned from overseas.
She was an Ottawa girl, of Italian heritage, and his voice
is tinged with sadness when he recalls the failed pregnancy
that left them unable to have children.
living in Winnipeg for a year, but she couldn’t adapt to
the cold. Back in Ottawa, he worked at Morrison Lamothe
bakery for more than a decade and then on to the National
Research Council for 15 years until his retirement. His
wife was 85 when she died in 2005.
for the rest of us? “Live every day. Don’t look for the
end of it. I can visualize there’s a stop sign at the end
of the road. I am getting towards it, but I live for every
day.” Meanwhile, he will continue to take to the road in
his shiny, red, two-year-old Buick Encore
story was made possible thanks to the generous support of
our local business partners.)