Rest in peace Wayne, hope you don’t mind me sharing this picture. I work across the street and one day had my new camera and was finding inspiration and there you were. Photo and comment by Lisa Stanley Sheehan
A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 10 am for Wayne will take place at the Alan R. Barker Funeral Home 19 McArthur Avenue, Carleton Place on Wednesday March 16, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.
Written with the thoughts and comments of the people of Carleton Place
There isn’t a day that I don’t look out my window and see the little white frame house on the corner of Lake Ave East and Argyle and think of Wayne Richards, who was fondly known as Wandering Wayne in Carleton Place. I always knew it was his childhood home, and for years I have asked Wayne to tell me his life story, but he was reluctant. Wayne was a humble man, and as we often passed in the streets he never forgot to smile and nod back. If you took the time to talk to him he could tell you more about the town of Carleton Place and your family then you ever thought possible.
Like everyone else in town I have watched Wayne deteriorate the past few years. Instead of walking, he now stood in the doorway of the Queen’s Hotel watching the world go by. Wayne knew that the beauty of Carleton Place still surrounded him and he was content with that.
Photo by Michael Gauthier
To tell you the truth I never thought Wayne was going to die,even though he was in his 80s (1935-2016) as he was such an iconic part of Carleton Place. When I heard the news I, like all of you, shed a few tears. As Ted Hurdis said, if we could have put a fit bit on Wayne years ago it would have been really interesting to see how many hundreds of miles he walked. He was as close to Forrest Gump as we are ever going to see.
But, how much did we really know about Wayne Richards? Wayne once delivered milk and butter from the Carleton Place Dairy. He also worked at Leigh Instruments in the plastic shop for awhile in the 1960s. When Lynda Hartley worked as a nurse at the Civic Hospital, Wayne worked in the house keeping department. He had a sister Donna, and Margaret Sovey, a member of St. Andrews Church, who passed away in 2014 and an older brother Donald. His parents were Ernest and Idena Richards, but if you really think about it, the town of Carleton Place became Wayne’s family.
Lila Leach-James knew Wayne’s family very well and said he had endured many hardships in his lifetime. However, Wayne held down a good job in the city for a long time and traveled somewhat, in particular, boarding a bus and spending weekends in Toronto doing walkabouts. He was very clever, and quite a history buff, and was determined to remain on his own. There was also a story of a man that was hired to map every dwelling in Carleton Place, the surrounding area and talk to homeowners. There were many times he had to stop by the Queen’s Hotel for Wayne’s assistance as he was quite knowledgeable about the people in our community.
But surprisingly enough, what a lot of people remember about Wayne were his eating habits. When Amanda Wark worked at Subway in the mid to late nineties, Wayne used to come in almost every weekend and order a 6″ meatball sub, doing this for weeks and weeks and then suddenly he’d throw a curveball and get a steak and cheese instead. He got a real kick out of confusing them.
Holly’s parents ran the local Dixie Lee and every single day, at the same time, he would come and order the same meal. Wayne loved The Eating Place and he ate there every day at four o’clock on the dot, ordering the sandwich special. John Daniel Morin said Wayne often talked to him there and he was a walking encyclopedia on various topics, in particular hockey statistics. Lynne Johnson used to leave money for meals at the Eating Place for Wayne, which was the idea of the Guthries. The staff were great to collect it for him and Gwen the waitress helped him with his breakfast in the morning.
But was he just a downtown icon? Wayne really lived up to his nickname Wandering Wayne. One minute you would see him downtown, and a few hours later you might run in to him in Smith Falls, or at the arena eating a hot dog on hockey nights. Or, you might run into him in Home Hardware when it was on Bridge Street watching TV.
Lyndy Rylott said after her husband Gary retired, he always had to go to town for something and would drive from their home in Ashton into Carleton Place. Occasionally the weather would be cold and raining and often he would pick Wayne up on the edge of town and drop him off downtown. Unfortunately, she never knew of these drives until just before her husband died. When she saw Wayne out for his walk, he told her of their little trips. Wayne believed that one step at a time is good for the soul and another thing he will be greatly missed for is asking everyone for the time during the day.
Bud Hamilton, a life time resident of Carleton Place, said he knew Wayne all his life and offered many times to drive him to Smith Falls to have cataracts removed but he wanted no part of that– he would just say thank you and that he was fine. At one time Wayne used to walk a return trip to Ottawa each day and as some have said if Wayne had been a dog walker he would have become a millionaire!
Erin S. Albright came to Carleton Place in the Spring of 2012 with a friend, to get cheaper gas. At $1.07 a liter at the time, it was worth the drive in from Ottawa. They went into the diner next to the gas station for some lunch. Wayne walked over, asked how they were and how their day was going. They had a great chat and he let them know where the ice cream place was (sadly still closed for the season). When they were getting ready to leave, Erin impulsively gave him a hug. He had moved on to chat to other people, but she had to tell him how he made Carleton Place a very welcoming place. Erin didn’t know him long, but he made a day without that awesome dairy fresh ice cream they had been looking forward to special and friendlier. It reminded her why she would truly prefer to live in a small town.
I often wonder if Wayne ever realized how famous and well liked he was. Even as Wayne got a little older, got a little sicker, he kept on walking and the townsfolk of Carleton Place helped him with his daily journeys. Wandering Wayne was a Carleton Place icon as everyone knew who he was, even if they never met him personally. Wayne Richards brought our community together in a very special way. As Faye Lavergne said,
“Wayne requested the best of each of us in our little town. and hopefully for the most part we all met his expectations”.
Thanks Wayne for always reminding us to take the time to be kind, and you will be greatly missed. When walking through the ‘valley of shadows’ remember, a shadow is cast by a Light and as Curtis Geroux said, “I know this immortal man is still trekkin’ somewhere”.
May you be walking the clouds in heaven.
To the town of Carleton Place–Let’s get a mural going– bronze a pair of his shoes.. anything for a man who loved us so much!
Thanks Tara Taylor for telling me about this picture on —Carleton Place Meet Me on the Mississippi site COMMUNITY PHOTO ALBUM–
Llew Lloyd— Nice pic of a very nice man. I’ve known Wayne going all the way back to when he delivered milk door to door in a horse drawn wagon. Loved chatting with him every time I saw him . He never forgot a name and could tell you stories about sport’s teams that would astound you. He was a walking encylopedia. Books could have been written about the history of Carleton Place if someone had taken the time to listen and record all his memories. Many of us have some great ones. Now he’s gone ,but not forgotten.
Deputy Mayor Jerry Flynn– Like Llew Lloyd, I have known Wayne Richards all my life, with first memories being of the horse drawn milk wagon, and the day the horse and wagon ended up down by the river at the end of Joseph street, after the horse decided to take off without Wayne while he was delivering our milk at 244 Flora St.. Wayne was a C.P historian and walking encyclopedia, being much more worldly than some would think. I heard many of his stories of travel over the years, with his trip to Yankee Stadium being one of my favorites. We have had many memorable individuals, in my time, frequent our Main St., but none who matched the demeanor of Wayne. Anybody who has known Wayne Richards has been blessed to have crossed his path.
I I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze. But I, I think maybe it’s both. We miss you already Wayne. If there’s anything you need, we won’t be far away. Forrest Gump