A former Havre Daily News printer finds enjoyment in exercise and woodworking in his retirement
By Jim Schroeder
Stationary biking across the United States.
Hmm. What's that?
Former Havre Daily News printer Roger Philippi needed some exercise after he had a stroke in March of 2000 and retired from the Havre Daily News four months later.
After the stroke, Philippi had only partial eyesight so driving a vehicle became tedious. But Philippi didn't give up. He called AAA for a map of the United States and bought a stationary exercise bike.
Philippi gauges the distance he travels with the AAA's drive distance inset maps and also relies on national weather forecasts to see if he could actually bike in the area he is at on the map.
When Philippi first started, he pedaled from Havre to St. Ignace on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Philippi then turned south and went to Toledo, Ohio. He decided to head northeast to Niagara Falls and by Aug. 8 he was headed south and in Wilmington, N.C.
But Philippi grew tired and decided to take two weeks off from his stationary travels. He is currently somewhere in South Carolina on his map.
Philippi keeps a calender to keep track of his miles traveled, where he's traveled to and calories burned per day. He averages about 12.5 miles per day at 16 mph for 45 minutes. Philippi figures that he burns anywhere from 300 to 350 calories per day.
"But it's back on with a Hershey bar at 318 calories," Philippi said.
Philippi used to watch television as he pedaled his miles, but lately country music is his riding companion. He switched because a horse race he watched on TV almost killed him, he said, because he was pedaling so fast to try to beat the pack.
Philippi isn't a stranger to exercise. For 29 years he used to walk from the Havre Daily News to his home in Highland Park and back for lunch besides walking up and down his stairs nearly 40 times after work.
Philippi also stays busy doing carpentry, which is clearly seen throughout the inside and outside of his house. He started woodworking after he bought his home in 1969 and quit drinking alcohol.
"I only quit once in my life, but it lasted for 30 years," Philippi said. "I had a family and I was fortunate that they put up with it as long as they did."
Philippi said he mainly quit drinking for his family, but also for his health. He also quit smoking in 1969 along with the activities that he associated with his drinking years like bowling and fishing. He replaced those activities with woodworking.
His basement woodworking area is full of tools and paintings by his second wife, Joice. Someone might wonder how he manages to do such high quality woodworking in such a small area, but he does.
Philippi's woodworking can be seen from the driveway of his house with the front porch and gable decorated with finely cut wood trim and colorful stencils.
He recalls that his first wife, Phyllis, who died in 1997, told him the home's gable took him too long to build. He admits it took him two years, from 1979 to 1981.
Philippi's wood craftsmanship can also be seen throughout the interior of his home. A screen door covered with Amberlith has been turned into a family portfolio in his hall. He also built a unique chest of drawers into his hallway and used some old, glass post office boxes with combination locks for the drawers.
Philippi said his house is old and everything needs repair or refinishing, which allows him to use his creative woodworking impulses and keep him busy.
"When you get up it's kind of without a purpose," Philippi said. "You don't realize it until you're not working."
Philippi's bedroom has a shelf that's decorated with finely cut hearts. They also took a long time to build.
"When my son came home from Missoula and saw me building it, he asked, Why do you do that to yourself?'" Philippi said as he laughed to himself.
Philippi prefers the planning and assembling of his woodwork over the finishing work such as sanding and staining because the finish work gets boring.
He said his attitude also plays a key role in doing quality woodwork.
"I don't like the attitude that it's good enough," he said. "Anything I've ever done, I never had that attitude."
The 71-year-old Havre native is also an avid stenciler and has many hand-brushed stencils inside and outside. His porch has many stencils of a tulip that represents the Trinity and also has the friendship hex that is common on barns in Pennsylvania.
"It was a labor of love," Philippi said as he recalled brushing his many stencils and producing his many pieces of woodwork.