Written on July 27, 2015
The town’s newest centenarian recently celebrated his birthday with family and friends.
Frank L. Wellcome Jr., 100, was born on April 12, 1914, in Yarmouthville, Maine, and moved to Westbrook with his parents when he turned 9.
He attended the University of Maine in Orono where he received a bachelor’s in engineering physics in 1942.
“That’s 10 years after I graduated high school, because I worked a little before I went,” he said. “In 1942, I took ROTC, so I received a commission and the same time I received a diploma. I was in the reserves for 25 years, and I retired from the reserves at age 60.”
He married his late wife, Fleta Chick, in 1945. Together they had one son, Stephen, now of Brunswick, Maine.
Both Fleta and Frank lived in Sweetwood for five years before she died in 2005 at age 97.
The young couple moved to Williamstown in 1955 when Wellcome took a job with Sprague Electric Co. in North Adams. There, he worked in the company’s magnetic division and moved into inventory control.
The company had two IBM computers, he remembers, and had just a fraction of the memory a smartphone has today.
“In those days, everything was on punch cards,” Wellcome said.
He would later work 12 years as a programmer in the Williams College math department, before retiring in 1980. His wife also worked in the computer department, he said.
Wellcome said he doesn’t plan on ever having a smartphone, but uses a desktop computer to read newspapers from Maine, check email, and keep track of his finances. His other hobbies include reading the local newspaper and crossword puzzles.
And Edith Durham, activities director at Sweetwood, said Wellcome has become famous for his reciting limericks and poetry.
Wellcome has many memories of his time in the Army, including time in Paris for four months and returning home to the United States by boat during a hurricane.
Wellcome was also a dedicated volunteer and served as den leader for the Cub Scouts and, following his retirement, the local Meals on Wheels program.
What is Wellcome’s secret to life?
“There’s no secret,” Wellcome said. “Just take care of yourself.”
Wellcome also shared a piece of advice that he once received from a voice teacher.
“He told me, if you worry about something, do what you can to take care of it,” Wellcome said. “‘And after that, there’s no sense of worrying.”