TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Owner, mechanic at R&R Truck and Auto Repair retires after 52 years

Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Richard 'Fletch' Smith, 76, of Kittanning Township, holds his first earned dollar at R&R Truck and Auto Repair. Fletch worked his final full day and retired Tuesday, Oct.1, 2013, after 52 years as a mechanic.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
 

KITTANNING TOWNSHIP — Richard Smith is not a name most people in the Kittanning area might associate with auto repair.

But mention Smith's nickname, and it's likely that a friend, neighbor or family member will remember him from taking a vehicle to R&R Truck and Auto Repair along Graham Road sometime over the last three decades.

“Everyone knows me as Fletch,” he said. “My brother gave me that name when I was a kid, and it stuck.”

For all of his loyal customers, Tuesday marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new phase for Fletch.

It was the day the 76-year-old mechanic officially retired after working in the business for 52 years. He opened his own repair shop in 1984 after working for several other businesses and named it R&R after his name and that of his son, Rick.

Raymond Cashdollar of South Bend has been a customer since Fletch first opened his doors.

“You can't find anyone more honest than him,” Cashdollar said. “I got my car inspected a month earlier than I should have, just so he could do it.”

Fletch said he never had to advertise and that his business grew from word of mouth.

“I've had very good customers and thank them for their loyalty,” he said.

Although Wednesday was the first day of his retirement, Fletch has not exactly hung up his wrench for the last time.

“I'll still take care of family,” he said.

In addition to fixing and maintaining family vehicles, Fletch plans to devote more time to his hobby — fixing up old tractors and mowers. He has 14 in his collection, including a 1956 John Deere Tractor and a selection of vintage and newer model garden tractors. It is a passion he and his son share.

Fletch, who grew up in Dayton and graduated from Dayton High School, said his mother told him that he was always mechanically inclined.

“If I got a toy truck for Christmas, I'd tear it all apart,” he said.

And now that he has some extra time, he plans to help his daughter, Kimberly, as a part-time flower delivery man.

Kimberly owns Kimberly's Floral and Design shop just a few minutes down Route 422. Her mother, Ruth Ann, helps her run the store.

She said that her dad has been well-loved by his customers.

“He became — not just their mechanic — but their friend,” she said. “I've had people call the flower shop asking ‘Where's your dad?' ”

Kimberly said she believes the success of R&R was a result of her father's good character and the family's unity. Her parents have been married for 52 years.

“It's been a good life,” Kimberly said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or bbeatty@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Armstrong

  1. Explosive second day at Camp Cadet in Manor
  2. South Buffalo airport gets Armstrong County funding for study
  3. Rural Valley judge hanging up robes after 34 years on the bench
  4. Ownerless emu finds ‘buddy’ at new Greensburg home
  5. Natural gas fueling station opens in East Franklin
  6. Newest council member aims to make Ford City ‘best it can be’
  7. Grant keeps Armstrong Head Start going for next 5 years
  8. Head Start program canceled because of state budget impasse
  9. Disabled volunteer relates others at Kittanning health center
  10. Journey takes parents with disabled children to pool in East Franklin
  11. Armstrong agencies keeping close watch on state budget woes