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Albert Rich - 97 on April 18, 2004

Mill Street around the time of the birth of Albert Rich in 1907

Albert & his wife, Harriet (Wilkins) Rich, who died in 1992, are pictured at a funeral director's convention at the Lake Morey Inn in Fairlee in 1981

On April 18, 2004, Albert W. Rich celebrates his 97th birthday, just three short years of turning 100.

An active member of the Fairfax community for more decades than many local residents have lived, Albert was born in Fairfax, 97 years ago, on April 18, 1907.

He graduated from Bellows Free Academy here in 1925 and married Harriet Wilkins (1908 - 1992) in August, 1928. He had a unique career in which he became known to many local people.

A graduate of Simmonds College of Embalming and Funeral Directing in Syracuse, N.Y., he worked for years in a local funeral home.

Albert says that Marty Hicks owned funeral homes in both Fairfax and St. Albans when he and his wife Harriet (Wilkins) Rich went to work for him in 1928. The association lasted until 1947, when in March of that year, Albert and Harriet purchased the funeral home.

They operated the business until selling it in June 1971.

After that, and up until five years ago, Albert worked for Kidder Memorial Home in Swanton to cap a career of 73 years as an active funeral director.

While Albert was active as a funeral director, he also did many things for the town of Fairfax and its residents.

In the early years, his hearse also served as an ambulance. Also, the fire phone was manned from Albert and Harriet's home where he received the call, and then would ring the alarm which alerted volunteer Fairfax Town firemen as to where the fire was.

He was assistant fire chief from 1949 to 1954 and fire chief from 1955 to 1969.

He was a zoning board member in 1968-69 and Town Service Officer in 1973.

From 1973 to 1981 Albert was on the selectboard and was active in the process of the town sewer installation. For the past 18 years, he has been a BFA School Trustee.

He has served on the board of civil authority as well as being a Justice of the Peace for 11 years.

Albert has belonged to the Sanderson Corner Cemetery Association for the last 57 years, is a Fairfax Historical Society member, a member of the United Church of Fairfax and has served on its executive board.

He is a 73-year member of Lamoille Lodge No. 6 F&AM and still a member and past president of the Funeral Director Association of Vermont.

Albert still remains active, works around his lawn, and in the winter, even shovels a little snow here at his Main Street home in Fairfax. He drives his car, enjoys going out to eat, is a member of the local senior citizens group, and says he loves to play cards with his friends at the local fire station.

Albert has seen many changes during his 97 years in Fairfax. When he was born in 1907, the town's population was around 1300. It now stands at slightly above 3500.

His knowledge of families in the area is remarkable because of his funeral home business. Local historians say that anyone with a question about anything from the old days in Fairfax, need not look any further than Albert Rich.

Albert, we all wish you a Happy Birthday and many more to come.

Henry A. Raymond
April 18, 2004