LCC student, 70, finds voice late in life - The Lookout - LCC's Independent Student Newspaper Since 1959
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LCC student, 70, finds voice late in life

Rick student feature

Rick Bilodeau is currently taking two LCC classes, Cultural Anthropology and Creative Writing II, for fun.  Photo by Mallory Stiles

Mallory Stiles

By Mallory Stiles
Editor in Chief

There are two types of people in this world: people who throw in the towel early and people who continue to grow until the day they die.

LCC student Rick Bilodeau is definitely the latter. He continues to improve himself no matter what stage of life he is in.

“I am proud of my age,” he said. “I am 70.”

Bilodeau is currently taking two classes, Cultural Anthropology and Creative Writing II, for fun. He said he loves school, but is taking everything one day at a time.

Currently, Bilodeau is a writer, but he didn’t start writing until age 64. Yet, he said he has already self-published five books and been featured in LCC’s “The Washington Square Review.”

In light of all of his recent success, Bilodeau seems to be more confident in his voice. However, he said, like most of the greats, he started off terrified.

“I never wrote anything that I can remember,” he said. “I graduated from high school in 1971 and so I have been out of school for over 50 years but, one day, I started writing poems.

“I must have written 150 to 200 poems. I was afraid to show them to anybody, but eventually I got up the courage and sent a couple of them to my pastor.”

His pastor encouraged him just enough. Bilodeau said without that encouragement, he may have never made it to print. Five books later, his poem “Fright Night” won a prize in the statewide LAND Writing Competition.

This poem centers on the Michigan State University shooting last winter. He said he can still remember what he felt the night of that tragic event.

“I felt so bad,” Bilodeau said. “I sat there and watched when it came on over the TV. Those kids were so innocent and they just got smacked in the face with reality. It was a Friday night; it was supposed to be a night of FUN.

“There were helicopters flying around, there were EMTs, police, FBI agents. Everything came to a stop. I just felt I had to sit down and write about it.”

Bilodeau is a talented poet, but also loves to write creative children’s books. His last one centers on the journey of a stuffed dog fresh from a manufacturer all the way to a child’s home.

He is also working on a novel.

He said he draws a lot of his inspiration from real life; the children’s book idea came from a stuffed dog that was sitting on top of his microwave. Bilodeau has a very colorful life and it shows on the page.

He has five kids and a wife, Connie, who he simply loves to pieces. He said she has always been there to support him and honestly, she is the only reason he has made it this far.

“She has been unbelievable,” he said. “Totally behind me.”

Connie agreed that her husband uses the world around him as constant inspiration, and she is so happy to a part of that world.

“The ups and downs are there, as in any marriage, but that has made us stronger,” Connie said. “Rick has a large amount of patience. … He is creative and sees things differently.”

One reason that Bilodeau could be seeing things differently could be attributed, in part, to how much he has seen in his lifetime. From the moment it all began, there was chaos.

“There was a lot of turmoil,” he said. “The Civil Rights Movement was still going.”

He said he can still remember going on milk runs with his uncles in the early mornings, only to see the wreckage from the rioting the night before.

Bilodeau is also a former Marine. He joined in 1975 at age 22 and still remembers it fondly.

“I got choked out a couple times, but I am fine,” he said with a chuckle. “I lived through it.”

After he got out in 1979, he went into retail bakery management and lived the life that brought him to this moment, seemingly with no regrets.

He may be from a different time, but he is still changing, growing and evolving, and encouraging others to do the same.

“More people need to speak up and speak out about what they believe in,” he said.

Bilodeau is heavily involved with the church, but he isn’t one of those religious people here to cram his beliefs down people’s throats. He said he believes everyone has the right to speak their truth, and disagrees with any sort of censorship strongly.

He is an amazing student, father, friend, author and veteran, but he still found a way to give all the credit back to LCC.

“I am forever grateful for my professors and for this school,” he said. “This place can be a gateway to anywhere if you are willing to work hard.”

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