“There ain’t a whole hell of a lot to tell,” Dean Barricklow said in between packing bags of food Tuesday morning at the Salvation Army.
Barricklow was just doing what he has done nearly every Tuesday since the organization started its weekly, free food distribution — helping others.
The recently turned 97-year-old resides in Madison Township with his dachshund, Chase, whom he affectionately calls, “My baby.”
Barricklow started volunteering with the Salvation Army after the death of his wife, Mary Ann, six years ago. The two were married for 66 1/2 years. He’s sure to add the half-year if you ask how long he was married.
Barricklow can’t recall exactly how he got paired up with Salvation Army, but he’s sure it came after he “just started talking to somebody.”
“He is hilarious,” said long-time volunteer Ruth Pribik. “He’s a good guy.”
Almost on cue, Barricklow bent down and picked up a runaway onion off the floor. He tucked it in Pribik’s hand and said, “Here, I got you something,” and walked outside.
You can tell when he’s thinking of a quip because a grin will cross his face that says, “Up to no good.”
“If you can’t have a little laugh, no need to be around,” he said.
Tuesday mornings are an opportunity to socialize while doing some good for others.
“My dad always preached to me, if you can help someone, help them,” Barricklow said. “And it works out pretty good that way. You never know when you’re going to need help yourself.”
The Salvation Army’s new captain, Jacob Tripp, said Barricklow never misses a week and does whatever is needed.
“You can see the joy in his eyes when he’s doing the work,” Tripp said.
Barricklow knows hard work. He spent 52 years working on the farm with his dad. He also spent 29 years at Brazeway.
“I’ve had to work all my life, might as well keep going,” he said.
After sorting food inside, volunteers moved outside to prepare for a steady stream of cars that would come through to receive boxes and bags of food, part of the Salvation Army’s Fresh Food Initiative. A typical Tuesday sees well over 100 cars.
Sometimes Barricklow loads the food right into the cars. On Tuesday, he loaded bags onto a cart that were wheeled up to each vehicle. Each car received at least one gallon of milk, making for a little more heavy lifting.
Methodically, Barricklow loaded bag after bag, stopping only after the cart was loaded up.
“Who does this?” said Don Shultis, another volunteer. “He’s not ready for retirement. No way.”
A walking stick helps Barricklow to and from, but you won’t see him sitting down on the job.
“I like to bring people from my youth center and show them that’s how you really work,” said Pribik, who is retired from the Maurice Spear Campus.
Barricklow is considered family at the Salvation Army, according to business manager Kim Davis.
“I love his stories and how hard he works,” she said. “He’s an inspiration. I want to live to 97.”