Eric Parsons by the doors of Freshwater (N.L.) United, which he had recently refinished, in July 2019. (Photo: Denise Flint)
Eric Parsons by the doors of Freshwater (N.L.) United, which he had recently refinished, in July 2019. (Photo: Denise Flint)

Topics: November 2019, UCC in Focus | Society

Meet Freshwater United’s 90-year-old ‘jack-of-all-trades’

Eric Parsons cares for the church building, which is nearly as old as he is


Eric Parsons’ father was one of many volunteers who built Freshwater (N.L.) United 87 years ago.

The younger Parsons has been a member of the church ever since, and now, at 90, the retired miner is following in his father’s footsteps by caring for the old church building.

On pitching in: I suppose I’m a sort of craftsman, although I never went to any trade school. I’m not educated; I haven’t got a certificate. I’m a jack-of-all-trades, I suppose.

On what he’s done for the church so far: I put a pump system in the basement. The choir used to be in the choir loft, but then they moved to sit down in the congregation — so I made some changes in the seats. We also had no wheelchair spots, so I cut off two seats from a pew and made a ramp. I had to build a new wheel for the bell. The doors were a mess, too. They were rotted, and the paint was there for 87 years. I sanded and restained them and rebuilt them with new hardware and hinges.

On getting older: You get to feel old when you get to 90. It hasn’t hit me real hard. I’m still on the go and doing things. My short-term memory is failing me, but I remember verses and poems from 70 or 80 years ago. I’m going to recite one at the church coffee house next week. I always do readings at the coffee house, the third Friday of every month. I did the first one when I was eight or nine years old.

On his secret to a long life: I use cannabis oil. I take it regularly every day. Last thing every night before I go to bed is my marijuana, a glass of scotch and some goat cheese. I’ve been doing that for a long time.

This story first appeared in Broadview’s November 2019 issue with the title “Jack of all trades.”

Broadview is an award-winning progressive Christian magazine, featuring stories about spirituality, justice and ethical living. For more of our content, subscribe to the magazine today.


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  • says:

    This is the person (man or woman) every church needs to have and cherish. I'm sure he'll be missed when God calls him home.