Chet Becker, owner and operator of Becker Draperies in San Luis Obispo, says he may well be the oldest person who does what he does in America.
“That’s what sales persons, manufacturer representatives, all the people in the industry tell me,” Becker said. “It’s not scientific or anything, but they say I’m the oldest one they know.”
Becker, 89, has worked at his window coverings store for 51 years — with only four sick days during that time, he said.
Becker described how he got into the business.
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“I used to work in newspapers, advertising and editorializing in San Leandro, near Oakland. We had six big windows facing the sun and the editorial department had to wear sunglasses in the late afternoon,” he recalled. “This fellow came to put up draperies; his name was Bill Eddleman, and we became good friends. His business looked good to me, and I figured I could do it.”
A year or two later, Becker was hired to run the Paso Robles Press in Paso Robles. After a year and a half, he decided to go in the drapery business.
“Bill kind of fathered me into it,” Becker said. “He suggested I come to San Luis Obispo because only one business, Zegar’s Furniture, was doing it. I followed his advice. It wasn’t easy, but we survived.”
Every morning for 51 years, Becker opened the store between 7:30 and 8:30. He still oversees the accounts, goes out on calls, and handles some of the sales.
“I’ve got three employees, used to be seven, but with the economy mainly, I’ve cut back. I don’t like handling too much business, because then you make mistakes. We’re very, very efficient now,” Becker said. “I occasionally measure drapes, but I don’t do it for everyone because my balance isn’t good any more. It also depends on how many steps I’ve got to climb.”
He has no plans to retire.
“I have friends who’ve done that and two years later they’re dead,” he said.
“I call my business ‘continued life therapy.’ The longer I keep working, the better chance I have to stay alive.”
— Melanie Cleveland
French foundation picks two for board
The French Hospital Medical Center Foundation recently appointed Myraline Morris Whitaker and Reese Davies to join the 23 members of its volunteer board of directors.
Whitaker owns hotel management company Central Coast of California Hospitality, and she founded the Sister Soldier Project, which sends hair-care packages to female soldiers of color serving in the Middle East.
Davies is the president and chief administrative officer of Founders Community Bank, as well as a lifelong resident of San Luis Obispo.
The foundation solicits philanthropic gifts and grants funds to the hospital to help improve access to health care.
— Julia Hickey