Pensioner of the Month

Richard Woods

In Pensioner of the Month, we ask pensioners about retired life. Was it everything they they expected? And what can they teach us about our days to come?

In this edition, we meet up with Richard Woods, also known as ‘Meneer Woods’, as his former students from Milton Peters College still call him.

Richard Woods was one of the teachers of Milton Peters College, who started in the early years of the school’s existence. When the school was set up in the early 70s, the Government sent out a request for people interested in following educational training in Aruba. Woods, originally from Aruba, moved back to his island of birth in 1975 to pursue his teacher’s degree. Upon returning to Sint Maarten in 1977, he started working for MPC and stayed on until well over pensionable age.

‘It was so much fun to be part of something new, we had to build everything from scratch. I was working for the technical department and had to order machines, organize the workshops, collect materials, do everything basically. And I have always enjoyed working with youngsters.’

Woods wife Shirley chimes in, ‘I can’t go anywhere without him being called out by former students, it’s like he is famous around the island. Everywhere we go it’s, ‘Meneer Woods, Meneer Woods’, she laughs.

‘The feeling that you can really make a difference in someone’s life is priceless.’

‘Yes, that’s what you get when you have witnessed over 40 generations of highschoolers pass by,’ Woods comments. ‘The school, the island for that matter, changed tremendously over the years. In the seventies, Sint Maarten was a quiet, sleepy little island with not much going on. That all changed when tourism started booming in the mid to late eighties.’ 

Still, Woods is rooted on Sint Maarten. ‘We like to travel, but this is home. We built our house here, our children are here, and most of our family is too. And we need that, especially after the tragedy our family has been through when our middle son passed away during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.’

The Woods couple are strong however, and like to keep busy. Richard has his own welding workshop and likes to build things. ‘The other day, I helped a lady out with a railing for her daughter who is in a wheelchair. She was so happy, and that feeling, the feeling that you can really make a difference in someone’s life is priceless. I will always recommend it to all my fellow pensioners: help out where you can, and keep yourself busy. Life is too short to waste it just sitting around, but do enjoy your golden years’. 

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