Taylor widow's home receives goodwill improvements

Doris Duplessie, an 82-year-old Taylor widow, said she felt like “a celebrity” as contractors provided holiday goodwill at her Haig Street home for the last 30 years.

Members of the Western Wayne Plumbing and Mechanical Association chose Duplessie’s residence as the recipient of new fixtures and a variety of repairs during a day-long project on Saturday.

The event is known as Richter Day, named after Fred Richter, a member of the association who started a goodwill day in the 1960s. When Richter died, the day was renamed in his honor.

Every year, the members of the association select a needy resident of the area and do what they can to make his or her life better.

After Taylor resident Sandy Ulin recommended Duplessie’s home to the contractors, she became an obvious choice for the association, according to Charley Johnson, owner of Alert Plumbing in Taylor and president of the group.

She is on a fixed income. Her husband of 64 years, Clarence, died last January at age 83. And they “like doing things for seniors,” Johnson said.

“We volunteer our expertise and get all the materials donated,” Johnson said. “We tear it apart and put it back together,” he said. “We’re replacing all of the fixtures in her house. She’ll get a new toilet, a new bathtub faucet, a new vanity and sink, a new kitchen sink and faucet, a new laundry tub and faucet, a new water heater and new sump pump, plus some other miscellaneous repairs.”

The Western Wayne Plumbing and Mechanic Association is a group of professionals and business owners that prides itself on continuing education. Eight different companies were on site. All of the volunteers gave up a day’s income while working together to improve the home.

“Everybody is a master plumber or a journeyman,” Johnson said. “Everybody knows what he’s doing. They get in there and get it done. It’s pretty neat.”

Richter Day shows that “there are good, honest contractors,” Johnson said.

“We’re out to help and do as much as we can when we can,” he said. “Usually, we try to do this in the fall. This year, it just got pushed back a little bit.”

Taylor Mayor Cameron Priebe stopped by the home during the work and praised the contractors for their good deeds.
“I think what they’re doing is pretty amazing,” Priebe said. “This is absolutely incredible.”

Duplessie was beaming throughout the process.

“They’re a dream team, I’ll tell you,” she said. “Honest to God, I feel like a new bride moving into a new house. I’m not a religious fanatic, but the Good Lord was looking over me.”

Participating companies included Alert Plumbing of Taylor, A Burton & Sons and Lane Plumbing of Garden City, JC Hot Water Service of Livonia, Cameron Plumbing of Plymouth, GSA Water Heater Service of Westland, Richard Plumbing of Belleville and American Leak Detection of Dexter. Retired plumber Bill Parmentier of Plymouth also volunteered.

Charley Johnson and Doris Duplessie stand near a new sink installed by Johnson's group, the Western Wayne Plumbing and Mechanical Association. Johnson is president of the association. He owns Alert Plumbing in Taylor.

Charley Johnson (left), president of the Western Wayne Plumbing and Mechanical Association, keeps a close eye on fellow volunteers as they make improvements to the bathroom of the residence of Doris Duplessie of Taylor.

Doris Duplessie, members of the Western Wayne Plumbing and Mechanical Association and Taylor Mayor Cameron Priebe pose with some of the old fixtures that were removed from Mrs. Duplessie's home during Richter Day goodwill activities on Saturday.