Revisiting Dick Clemens

MAY 2001 - Posed for Rockwell Classic - The
recent sale of Joe’s Diner, a local landmark in Stockbridge, Mass.
brought to mind an article published in the Voice 20 years ago.

At
that time we learned that Association member Dick Clemens had earlier
been the model for Norman Rockwell’s classic Saturday Evening Post’s
cover, “The Runaway” which had been published in 1958. The cover
depicted a state police officer and a young boy in a diner. Although
unnamed, the diner that Rockwell used for a background was Joe’s Diner.

Dick was one of Rockwell’s neighbors in Stockbridge at the time. The boy was Ed Locke, also a Stockbridge resident.

After
World War II and Korean War hitches in the Marines, Dick joined the
State Police as a trooper. He was later assigned by the State Police
Detective Bureau to the District Attorney’s office in Pittsfield. He
was also attached to the State Fire Marshall’s office for eight years.

Prior
to retiring in 1975, Clemens was awarded the State Police Outstanding
Service Award and the Massachusetts Humane Society’s Medal for Bravery.
He received third degree burns when he entered a burning house during a
rescue.

Retirement
from the State Police in 1975 did not mean retirement from work for
Dick. The massive General Electric Plant in Pittsfield was searching
for a new Plant Protection Chief, a highly responsible position. The
search didn’t last long. Dick was their man.

But
much to the dismay of the City of Pittsfield, where G.E. was the city’s
primary employer, the plant eventually closed and Dick moved on to an
even larger G.E. plant in Schenectady, New York where he was director
of security. He is now retired from G.E. but still does “a little
security consulting work.”

We contacted Dick last month at his home in Clifton Park, New York, a suburb of Schenectady, where he lives with his wife Joan.

“I heard Joe’s Diner was sold,” he said “but I don’t know the new
owners. Berkshire County brings back some fond memories. Say hello to
Gerry Miller (Pittsfield Retirement Board), he’s an old friend. I’ve
been reading the Berkshire Eagle and see where he’s fighting the mayor
over health insurance for the city’s employees and retirees. I guess
Gerry is just as feisty as ever. He was always scrapping for his
members when he was president of his union.”

Dick
also wanted to be remembered to his many friends in the Former Mass.
State Troopers Association. “Jim Foley (Secy., Editor) puts out a great
newsletter.... We’re like one big family and have some terrific
reunions. There was one this March at the Naples, Florida Elks, but I
couldn’t make it.

“Dick’s
wife (Joan Fahey) has roots in the Berkshires. She’s from the Town of
Dalton. Her uncle, Marty Fahey, was a Pittsfield detective and her
father, Fred, was the superintendent of the Pittsfield Boy’s Club,”
Gerry Miller pointed out.

The
6'1" former trooper verified that he weighed 225 when Rockwell did his
drawing but says he hasn’t gained a pound since and at age 73 is in
excellent health. “I have two wonderful daughters and three
grandchildren. Life has been good to me... And that includes the new
pension law for retired troopers,” he added. “I want to thank the
Retirees Association for the work that it has done on behalf of
retirees. It’s comforting to know we have someone to contact if we
should need help,” he said in closing.

It’s our pleasure, Dick.

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