LEWISTON — For 40 years, Norman Rivard walked back and forth across Lisbon Street. He walked to the Webber Social Club at 5 p.m., and walked back home an hour or so later for dinner.

Rivard, 86, was struck and killed by a car Wednesday on his way to the club. A night later, his usual chair sat empty at Webber Social Club, a sheet of paper declaring Rivard’s lifetime membership number: 939.

He was the longest-living member of the club and a bartender there twice a week. Friends said Rivard never showed any sign that he might quit working and take it easy.

“I used to tell him, just sit down and have your rum and Coke,” said Ron Morin, who also tends bar at the club. “Just sit down and relax. I really don’t think he had it in him, though.”

To say Rivard was well-loved at the club was a bit of an understatement. Everybody there seemed to have a story to tell about Rivard’s life and times.

“He’s been here for something like 50 years,” said Paul Robitaille, himself a longtime member of the club. “He was here every day, seven days a week. He’d come in at 5 p.m. and that’s where he’d sit, right there in that chair. If he wasn’t home by 6:15 or so, his wife would call and say, ‘Hey. Supper’s on the table.'”

At which point, Rivard would say goodbye to his pals and walk home.

Rivard was an ardent sports fan, his friend said, and a heck of a pool player. Years ago, he and some other club members went to Las Vegas to shoot pool in a tournament. They came home with a second-place trophy. They might have taken first place, friends said, but the group had to be home for work Monday so they skipped the last round.

“Norm was awesome,” said Tim Ayotte, who was seated two chairs down from Rivard’s chair Thursday night. “Just awesome. Everybody liked him. We’re not just a club down here, you know. We’re a family.”

Webber Social Club is in many ways a well-kept Lewiston secret. It’s been a club since the 1930s and in its current location since the 1950s. Some people who knew Rivard as children would grow up and become members of the club themselves.

“He knew everybody,” Robitaille said. “He was very influential in what goes on here.”

When he was struck and killed Wednesday night, Rivard’s wife, Claudette, was at their home. Rivard had only left her moments earlier, on his way to his usual hour with his friends.

The couple had three children — two daughters and a son — as well as four grandchildren.

Not to mention all of the club members who felt as though Rivard was part of their family, too.

“We’re a family,” Ayotte repeated. “And he was grampa.”


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