Owner, mechanic at R&R Truck and Auto Repair retires after 52 years
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.