This column features seniors who are part of the fabric of our community, people who have contributed to the well-being of the place many of us call home. It’s not supposed to promote local businesses or anything like that but……this article comes dangerously close!
Delmar Loucks has been a businessman in Melita for over fifty-five years, operating a business which has helped not only Melitaites but people who live as far away as Moosomin, SK Until 2008, he owned and ran Delmar’s Hardware. Although he no longer owns the business, he’s never far away! His life as a citizen and a businessman in Melita are very closely intertwined…and because of that, this article almost violates the advertising rules!
Delmar arrived back in…well, let’s just say he was born before World War II broke out! He’s nowhere near to being Melita’s oldest person, but he’s even farther away from being its youngest! He never finished High School. Grade 9 was not a good year, so he had to take it again. When he completed Grade 11, he figured he had put in his 12 years of school because of that extra year in Grade 9. Since 12 years were required for graduation, he felt Grade 12 wasn’t really necessary!
While in school, he worked at a bakery, alongside a young lady named Jean Tilbury. The job wasn’t really what he was wanting in life…but the young lady was! Two years later, one of Delmar’s brothers moved from Melita to Fort William, which is now part of Thunder Bay, ON. His move left a job opening at Melita Hardware and Delmar applied. He enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together, so this type of job held more appeal for Delmar than baking bread did! He got the job! That job lasted 13 years. Things got a little out of control one day in the kitchen at a nearby Chinese food restaurant and the result was that the hardware store burned to the ground. Delmar’s job went up in smoke! Griffith Bros., a farm supply company, asked Delmar to join them as a business partner. He did, in 1970. Three years later, he bought out the first of the Griffith brothers, and the second brother four years after that. Delmar’s Hardware was born. The rest, as they say, is history!
His wife, Jean, joined him at the store, the same Jean that he worked with 20 years earlier at the bakery. Jean Tilbury had become Jean Loucks back in 1957 – Delmar must have felt that one should never go to work without their ‘Jeans’!
The business has been good for Delmar, but it’s had its highs and lows. The highs? Scaling rooftop antennas 30 feet above the ground! The lows? Descending 25 feet into wells! All in the name of providing quality service to ensure customer satisfaction!
That’s the business side of Delmar…there is more to him than that!
His personal life has been pretty good, too! He and Jean had five children, who have given them 12 grandchildren who have given them four great-grandchildren! Most of the kids and grandkids have worked alongside Dad/Grandpa at the family business over the years. He was also quite the ‘jock’ – curling and golfing (he won the Melita Club championship back in the 60’s!), and hockey. He held his own in all those sports! He still golfs occasionally and still curls once a week, although he is no longer able to get down in the hack! He was forced to give up hockey because of a knee replacement…and then stopped skating altogether when his other knee was replaced. He has transitioned well from being a competitor to being a spectator. Recently, he was ‘hootin and hollerin’ in Brandon at the Tim Horton’s Brier! He also ‘hoots and hollers’ when singing for the Pierson & Area Choir!
Delmar has also given to his community that has given him so much. He served as Melita’s mayor for three years and another six as one of its Councillors. He has also chaired local boards, including the board of the Melita Lodge. He and Jean are long-serving members of Melita’s United Church. His contributions to the town of Melita were recognized in 2017, when he was presented with an Award of Excellence.
Many at Delmar’s age have long been retired. He may have sold the business to his son Kevin back in 2008, but that hasn’t slowed him down. You can still find him at the store that bears him name – six days a week, ten hours a day! He may be planning an Alaskan cruise in June but he’s not interested in cruising into retirement! Why? Because Delmar views his work as much more than just a career or a source of income. He sees work as an opportunity to help people throughout his community. Helping others helps to make Melita a better place. That brings a great deal of pride to Delmar…
…and motivates him to keep going on!