Rod Barrie is on the Ambassador Committee for the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce with me. We meet at ribbon cuttings and events but today, Rod met with me at the Dunkin Donuts in Evans for a coffee and a chat.
Me: Have you always lived in the Augusta area?
Rod: I was born in Othello, WA but spent most of my years in Richland, WA. I went all the way to Seattle to go to the University of Washington but then went back to Richland. Raised a family there. I came to Augusta in 1989.
Me: What made you move all the way across the country to Augusta?
Rod: I owned a 2-for-1 coupon marketing business with my business partner for years. It was very successful in the 1970s and early 1980s. But, in 1982 the work on the Hanford Nuclear Site was terminated. Just like that Richland lost 150,000 people of its population. All the nuclear construction workers and their families. It was devastating to the economy out there and business were closing. My business suffered too.
I went to work for a regional Chevy dealership as the Finance Manager and as a manager for training sales people. I did that for a number of years. Eventually, my wife and I divorced. My old business partner had moved to Atlanta and since there was nothing holding me to Richland, I went to Atlanta to work with my business partner again. We expanded the business to the Augusta, Savannah, and Columbia, SC area and I managed this side of the state starting in 1989.
Me: Do you still have your coupon business?
Rod: I sold my franchise but then I was bored. I went to work at the Augusta Chronicle selling retail ads. I did that for seven years.
Me: What are you doing now?
Rod: I am the Intake and Referral Coordinator for Comfort Keepers. I started with them helping them out with their marketing and sales. I had turned 65-years old and all my friends were in their sixties, and we all had questions about healthcare. I talked to them to get information and saw that there was an opportunity to help them better market themselves and dispense information. After four or five years my job just morphed into what I do now. I’ve been with Comfort Keepers for 12 years now and I cover the 13 counties in the CSRA.
Me: What is Comfort Keepers?
Rod: Comfort Keepers is In-Home Care for seniors and adults. We provide non-medical care and assistance such as cooking, light cleaning, trips to the doctor, dressing, and personal hygiene such as help in the shower or bathroom. We get referrals from rehab facilities, assisted living facilities, and family members.
Me: How does this area compare to Richland, WA?
Rod: Well, it’s what’s different that is appealing. When I cam here, Richland was in a downturn. Augusta has always been growing. The people are happy and hospitable and welcoming. Out west the distances are huge. A trip to Seattle or Portland or Disney Land is a huge undertaking that requires planning. We can get to Savannah, Atlanta, Hilton Head in just a couple of hours. Everything is close.
Me: What do you like to do in your down time?
Rod: I used to golf and boat on the lake. But now, I enjoy doing some landscaping and working in my flower beds. I like playing croquet and just hanging out with family and friends. We also travel on weekends. We’ve gone to Sapphire Valley, Maggie Valley, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale. I like Fort Lauderdale the best.
Me: Do you have a favorite restaurant?
Rod: Lately we’ve been eating at Kyoto Japanese Cuisine.
Me: What do you order?
Rod: Their miso soup is really good and so is their ginger salad. I like the sushi and sashimi. Both of those are really fresh and good.
Me: What is something you were pleasantly surprised to find here?
Rod: I know you won’t believe it; I like the heat here. Out west the heat is dry and it’s like a desert. In fact, it was a desert before they built the Grand Coulee Dam. Now they have the water available to grow alfalfa, vegetables and grapes. Lots of vineyards have come in and some of the best wine, I think, comes from Washington State. But, I do like how the heat of the day turns into nice nights to sit outside and drink some of that Washington State wine.
Me: Do you have any hobbies?
Rod: Not really. I’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do. And now, I just like working in my flower beds.
Me: What is one thing on your bucket list you haven’t done yet?
Rod: My wife is Italian and her family is originally from Palermo, Italy. She would like to match the records from Ellis Island to the familial records from Palermo. With that, she might be able to apply for dual citizenship. I’d like to see Palermo too. Maybe purchase a vacation home there.
Me: Do you have any long-term goals?
Rod: I’m fortunate to have completed most of my goals. I have my health and I’m able to do anything I feel like doing.
Me: What is one thing you’ve done that you are proud of, or glad that you did?
Rod: I’m glad I just did “something.” Any time an opportunity arose, I took it. Making a move, any move, is better than not doing anything. You must always do “something,” or you’ll never get anywhere. So, I’m glad I did “something.”
Me: Name one thing that makes you unique, interesting, or special.
Rod: Hmmm… I think the thing that makes me unique is that I don’t need supervision or need to be told what to do. I see what needs to be done and just do it. And I’m pretty good at figuring out how to do something without needing too much help. I can figure it out and just do it.
Me: Thanks Rod for talking with me today. I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about you and Comfort Keepers. If anyone would like to know more about Comfort Keepers for themselves or for family, you can contact Rod here. Or you can contact me and I will have Rod reach out.