One of the secrets to a happy life, says Dick Huebsch of Staples, is to “be content.” Huebsch recently retired after 45 years working at Twin City Optical (formerly Benson Optical) in Staples, a job he enjoyed and one that helped provide for his family. He’ll miss his coworkers, but Dick says he’s looking forward to spending time working in the yard, as well as with his family.

Huebsch shares thoughts on retirement, life

“I have a lot to be thankful for,” said Huebsch.

The grass couldn’t be any greener on the other side of Dick Huebsch’s fence; but even if it were, chances are he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else than on Ravilla Ave. in Staples.

“We started building this house in 1977,” Dick said, looking out the kitchen window at the flower gardens and plush lawn, the colors vibrant from the recent rain. “We love it here.”

Recently retired after 45 years of working at Twin City Optical in Staples (formerly, Benson Optical), Dick, 65, is looking forward to having even more time to work in his yard, as well as to be with his family.

“I haven’t had a summer off since I was 12 years old,” Dick said. “I’m ready.”

Little did he know when he was hired on at Benson Optical in 1971, that he would still be there four decades-plus later.

“I thought it would be something to get me by until I moved to the Cities to look for a job in my field,” Dick said. 

He had moved to Staples in 1968, after graduating from Perham High School. “I came here to go to the vocational school,” Dick said, adding that he studied machine shop his first two years and then plastic mold making for the third. 

Although his goal had been to work as a machinist, Dick noted that, “the war was winding down at that time, so there weren’t as many machine shop jobs available.”

He was grateful to have found employment at Benson Optical, working in the surface room as a lens polisher.

By that time, he had also started dating a local gal by the name of Kris Westin, so Staples was beginning to feel more like home in more ways than one.

Dick recalled the day he met his future wife. “I was living in a part of the Catholic Church, where my uncle, Fr. Vincent Huebsch, was the priest. He knew I didn’t have a lot of money and offered me a place to stay while I was going to vocational school.” He went on to note that his brother, Dennis, lived there for a time, too. “Kris was walking by the alley one day with her friend and stopped to talk. At one point she asked if my brother and I were Fr. Huebsch’s sons.”

After setting the record straight, Dick said they shared a few laughs and that he thought to himself, “She’s a sharp looking gal. I should ask her out.”

On June 29, 1974, Dick and Kris were married, making their first home in Aldrich, near the Partridge River. 

The Huebschs’ first two children were born during their three years in Aldrich...daughters Michelle  and Kari. Their three sons, Joe, Jake and Dan, were born after Dick and Kris moved back to Staples.

“We bought this property and built the house and made improvements over the years as we could afford them,” Dick said. He recalled planting seedlings in the back yard with his wife and spruce, white pine, a silver maple. “We used to name them all.”

With a family to support, Dick said he was glad to have a job that offered stability. The thought of giving his notice to pursue something unknown never entered his mind. “I’m not a gambling man,” Dick added.

Not to say that he didn’t encounter some difficulties at work over the years.

“During the 1980s, Benson (Optical) went bankrupt and Revlon owned us for awhile. That was a hostile take over,” Dick recalled. “Then in 1990, Twin City Optical came along and bought up the Benson Optical labs.” Currently, the labs are owned by Essilor, a global company out of France.

Over the past 45 years, Dick has worked with a number of fellow employees. “We were like family,” he said. He noted that he had initially been hired by Ken Richardson and that during his tenure he had eight different managers. “I would have to say that the last manager, Diane Jasmer, was the best I worked with. It was bittersweet saying ‘goodbye.’”

Dick took on a variety of roles during his employment at the optical company. In addition to working in the surfacing and finishing rooms, for the past several years he was in a lead position. “I was the go-to person when things needed to be figured out. I liked that role...teaching others the common sense way to approach optical problems.”

He’s seen a lot of dramatic changes over the years in the optical industry, Dick said. “Between the products used and how things are done...when I first started, we used to have just glass lenses. Staples was one of the first labs in the state to offer plastic lenses. Now I’d say that no-line bifocals makes up the majority of our work.”

One of the things that remained constant was Dick’s work ethic. “I have to thank my parents for that,” he said, adding that his dad owned a cabinet shop in Perham, which is where he was first employed while still a teen. “Mom and dad showed us the fruits of an honest day’s work. You can’t go wrong,” he said, adding that his parents, now in their 90’s, are still living in Perham.

Now that he’s retired, he’ll have more time to visit his parents, as well as his children and eight grandchildren. “I’ve got awesome kids,” Dick said. “They threw a retirement party for me over Memorial Day weekend. They said, ‘You guys don’t have to do anything...just be here.’ We had a great time; it was the first time in five years that everyone was home.”

Dick still gets up at 6 a.m. every morning. “I’m not going to waste my day,” he said. “I’ve always thought that naps are a waste of time, I like to keep busy.”

He also plans to spend time at Rush Lake, building a log cabin with his siblings; and taking road trips with his wife. “Kris and I love to just get in the car and go, without any real plans.”

“I’m content,” Dick said, looking once again at his back yard...the grass green from the rain; the trees, once seedlings, now reaching to the sky. “I have a lot to be thankful for,” he says, mentioning his family and strong Catholic faith. “I really think that’s the key in be thankful for what you have.”


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