EASTON — Leonard Rieck of Easton has a lot to be thankful for, including celebrating his 102nd birthday with family and friends on Wednesday, Nov. 27.
The centenarian still lives in his own home. But after squirrels took apart his 2010 Ford Taurus last year, he was concerned that life was going to slow down for him.
The squirrels “ate the computer system and gas line. I haven’t owned or driven a car since the day after New Year’s last year,” Rieck said. “Everybody has tried to stop me from driving and I wouldn’t. I have to depend on everybody to take me to places and bring me food. I don’t like relying on others, but I am grateful for those who have helped me.”
On Saturday, Nov. 23, family and friends gathered with Rieck in St. Michaels to celebrate his birthday with a cake and candles. During the week, the festivities continued when Rieck received over 50 birthday cards in the mail. On his birthday, several relatives and friends showed up at his house with more birthday cake and food.
Throughout his life he said he learned a very important lesson: To be nice to everyone you come across.
“I have learned that it is important to behave yourself,” said Rieck. “I have refused (to think) nothing ill (of people) and it amounted to a lot of good friends. It’s important to be nice to everyone, and that was possible, thanks to God.”
Rieck was born on Nov. 27, 1917, and raised on a farm in Preston. Twenty years later, he moved to Easton where he began his career as a mechanic at Price’s Tire Shop.
During World War II, he received a deferment from military service by working as a mechanic at Elliott Brothers Trucking in Easton. He later spent 18 years as head machinist at Watkins Auto and Machine Shop.
He became part owner and general manager of Crockett Brothers Shipyard, where he worked for about seven years. Then he was employed at Firestone in Easton until he was 65. He then became self-employed as a repairman for both major and small appliances.
Rieck is the son of Emil and Emma Gadow Rieck. His first wife, Evelyn, died in 1997. He married the former Doris Dobson in 2003 until she died in 2018.
For Rieck’s 100th birthday, the Town of Easton approved changing the name of Aurora Park Drive to Leonard Rieck Drive. The new sign was unveiled at a birthday party given to him by Easton Volunteer Fire Department on Nov. 18, 2017. In 1962, Rieck served on the building committee for the firehouse on his namesake street.
Also in 2017, Rieck was recognized as a life member of the department, where he held several engineering offices, including chief engineer, assistant chief engineer, trustee and a member of several truck committees.
He is a Hall of Fame member of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, and a member of the Delmarva Volunteer Firemen’s Association, the Talbot County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, Elks Lodge 1622 and Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Preston.
On Wednesday, Rieck’s step-daughter, Nancy Wood, visited Rieck and said, “His mind is still sharp. I think it is wonderful that he has reached all the milestones he has.”
Editor Connie Connolly contributed to this story.