Kalkaska Man Proves It’s Never Too Late to Learn Something New
“You’re trying to take a 74-year-old man’s brain and put it back in the seventh grade,” Butch Peltier said.
A Kalkaska man is proving to everyone that it’s never too late to learn something new.
For the past year he’s been learning to do something most learn at a much younger age.
While learning something new can be difficult, Peltier is determined to conquer this challenge.
“I just want to learn it before I die,” Peltier said.
Peltier has lived a successful life.
“I was very mechanical,” he said. “I started out being a foreman. I moved on from that to another shop and was plant superintendent, which I was for 38 years.”
But at 74 years old there’s still one thing he always wished he could do.
“I didn’t let nobody know. To me, it was very embarrassing,” Peltier said. “Nobody. Nobody knew I couldn’t read.”
Peltier has gone his entire life without knowing how to read. However, he never let that stop him.
“I didn’t want to be that guy working the assembly line. I knew more. I wanted to do more,” he said.
It’s been a lifelong goal of his to learn. He says he struggled in school.
“Back in those days, they just kind of moved you along,” Peltier explained. “Then I got married, had some kids and I couldn’t go back and do it because I had to work all the time.”
He says he kept it a secret from most but still had some help along the way.
“I had a secretary that worked for me and she knew my situation,” Peltier said. “If I had to go to meetings, I’d take a tape recorder in my pocket in the meetings. I’d come out, give it to her and she’d make the reports that I needed.”
Peltier says his wife and other half, Sandy, picked up the tasks he couldn’t.
“Then my wife passed away and I was faced with paying bills, trying to just get along in an everyday society,” Peltier said.
But just about a year ago he met Margaret Learner, who’s now teaching him how to read.
“She’s helped me tremendously, believe me,” Peltier said.
Learner says growing up she wasn’t good at reading either.
“It helped a lot that I struggled to be able to see and empathize with Butch’s struggles,” Learner said.
So she took it back to the basics.
“Slow down and use his fingers as guides. Simple tools, but tools he never learned as a kid,” Learner said.
“I can almost read a newspaper, parts of it, now, which I couldn’t do before,” Peltier said.
Peltier says he hopes by sharing his story others at any age will seek out the opportunity to learn how to read.
“If there’s a place that they could go and keep it confidential, then you’ll have a bigger turnout in this,” Peltier said. “It’s hard. Just do it. You got any drive, you can do it.”