Max Richie was a powerhouse man.
"We lived in an Edison community. These were little communities around the powerhouse. We were the people who ran the powerhouse. We maintained it, worked together and lived together as next-door neighbors. Our kids went to school together. I lived with them for 15 -- 20 -- maybe 25 years."
Max said these words Dec. 3 at our year's-end meeting of the Democratic Club of Oakhurst at the Ol' Kettle as we introduced what was to become a regular closing highlight designated as "A Moment with Max."
I get to moderate these monthly sessions, having not been present a while back when a vote was taken by membership as to who should get stuck doing such a thing.
Here was my introduction to "A Moment with Max" as transcribed from a fortuitous recording:
"We have something special we've decided to close these meetings with from now on. We have a TREASURE in our organization. He's 90-years-old. He's been on his best behavior today -- just sitting here waiting for his turn -- so I would like to take this opportunity to introduce the inaugural appearance of "A Moment with Max" -- Max Richie!"
Max lived in North Fork, having been a merchant seaman in the South Pacific during World War II -- later joining Southern California Edison in 1947 and operating in the powerhouse for 33 years until his retirement in 1980.
It was while working for Edison that Max joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and became a union steward, at one time leading a strike against Edison which brought about milestone changes in wages, benefits and working conditions across the board. He continued his role as a primary union negotiator with Edison for the remainder of his years with the company.
Max was heading north on Highway 49 Saturday morning, Jan. 14 to participate in a Mariposa County Democratic Central Committee symposium when he died.
His son, Charles, shares these thoughts:
"The family has talked it over, and decided that we could not have picked a better way for Dad to spend his last day than to wake up excited, discussing what he might say, printing off copies of a thank you letter from Bernie Sanders and be on his way to his next Democratic activity."
Max K. Richie was spending his 91st year still on the ball -- on the road -- on the move -- because Max K. Richie was mad -- and getting madder all the time.
Max was always writing letters to the editor -- The Sierra Star and Fresno Bee his primary recipients. On Oct. 3, 2010, The Bee honored Max with featured recognition in their highly circulated Sunday "Meet Our Letter Writers" segment.
Pam Rowse of The Bee remembers Max well.
"I was so sad to hear of Mr. Richie's passing. He has been writing letters, probably before I started working here in 1977. I remember he used to hand-write all of his letters. He had very distinctive penmanship. Even though I don't have any of those hand-written letters, I can still see his very unique writing in my mind to this day."
The reason Max wrote all those letters all those years was for the same single word Gore Vidal once used in explaining why he has remained so politically energized and active even after becoming severely debilitated and confined to a wheelchair.
Rather than delineate specifics with any attempt at inclusive summary to create a litany of all the things that made Max mad, might I suggest the following publications Max devoured with passionate commitment and always consistently and insistently recommended to others:
Fresno's Community Alliance
I bring these to your attention with endorsement in the name of Max K. Richie: Socialist.
One of the finest men I've ever known.