Richard Paugh loves numbers.
Which suits him well, he said, since he’s been the manager for the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 (Qualicum) for the past 21 years.
This June marked Paugh’s 81st birthday.
“And that’s when I said it was time to hang up my stuff,” he said with a chuckle.
The Qualicum Beach Legion branch recently held a celebration for the retiring manager and presented to him a specially decorated cake with an edible image of a news article about Paugh by PQB News.
The edible image depicted when Paugh was granted the Legion’s Meritorious Service Medal in 2017 as recognition for his outstanding service.
Although he resides in Parksville, Paugh said he chose to join the Qualicum Beach branch after being “blown away” by how beautiful the garden area was; something he hadn’t seen at any other branch.
“And the rest is history.”
His professional career in banking started with the Toronto Dominion in Trail, where he spent the first 19 years of his life.
While moving with various positions and locations, Paugh has been a Legion member in Richmond, Port Moody and Chilliwack.
As a veteran, he first became a member of the Canadian Reserves while still working in banking, and held that position for 11 years.
Paugh said he was in the reserves as a Royal Canadian Engineer, 44 field squadron, and admitted to being “less than truthful” about his age when he joined in 1955.
“We were dealing with everything from water purification, to explosives, to identifying and removing radioactive materials,” he said.
While in the reserves, Paugh recalls being “called up” on two occasions.
The first time he was asked to stand down after it was uncovered he was still a senior in high school.
“It was a common thing,” he said. “Especially the ones that were enlisting during the war. So nobody called me out on it or anything, just kind of shook their heads.”
The second time he was called up during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the ’60s, and was put on standby since “everyone thought there was going to be a big problem.”
While still working with the bank, Paugh was transferred to Victoria where he joined the Canadian Scottish Regiment as a drum sergeant in the pipe band with regular infantry training.
He landed the managerial position in Qualicum Beach after joining Branch 76 with his wife, Beulah, in 1996. After approximately four years of being a member, he said the then president, Bob Sommers, asked him, knowing already Paugh’s background in financial management.
In the coming years, Paugh and two other members members started the Qualicum Beach pipe band in 2014, which at its height, had 25 members.
Since its inception, the pipe band has been in numerous competitions in Comox and Campbell River.
“I’ve got two big trophies up in the hall there because our band is closely affiliated with the Legion,” said Paugh.
Even though he can no longer march or carry a drum, Paugh said he still intends to keep up with band practices, but doesn’t anticipate attending competitions.
Now retired, Paugh will continue with the Legion as a regular member.
Although he said his favourite part of the job was working with the financial numbers and balancing the books, he said he’ll miss the camaraderie and the community the most.
“It’s just been such a pleasure working with them,” he said. “And just always trying to come up with new ideas of how to be good to the Legion, but good for our members, and being there to support the members.”