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On the Light Side

January 22, 1990

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Gordon Dorian looks and sounds like a typical smooth-talking car dealer as he strolls around the showroom of Mel Hambelton Ford, shaking hands with customers.

But his name tag reveals he’s a salesman of a different kind. It reads: ″Dr. Gordon Dorian, chaplain.″

Dorian is a retired Southern Baptist preacher who spends two or three days a week counseling some of the dealership’s 115 employees.

Dorian, 67, joined the dealership last May at the invitation of owner Mel Hambelton, who seven years earlier had been converted to the faith by Dorian, then pastor of Olivet Baptist Church in west Wichita.

″What’s good for me might be good for other people,″ Hambelton said.

Some employees weren’t excited about the idea, but Dorian said he doesn’t preach at employees and only offers advice when asked.

Employees occasionally stop by his cubbyhole-size office to talk about personal matters. At other times, Dorian speaks with workers on the job, sometimes offering a spiritual pick-me-up.

″It may be just a quick prayer,″ he said, snapping his fingers. ″Just so it won’t be obnoxiously noticeable.″

For his work, he receives a ″small token″ salary and the choice of any car on the lot to drive.

Dorian’s job is not limited to counseling employees. Sometimes he tries to soothe ruffled customers waiting for car repairs.

″I talk to people and sympathize with them,″ he said. ″But I tell them I know the guys, and they’re doing the very best they can.″

Do customers ever ask him to lay hands on their cars for some less expensive healing?

″Yeah, they have,″ he said, laughing. ″We’ve had fun with it.″

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BOSTON (AP) - Frances Leary says a policy of no heavy lifting helped her reach age 104.

″My mother always told me to be a good girl, and if she was here today she’d say ‘I guess you’ve been a good girl ’cause you made it to 104,‴ said Leary, who marked her birthday Friday.

Leary, a lifelong Boston resident, worked in a shoe factory for 22 years before getting married at age 39.

A music lover, she fondly recalled taking part in Irish dances in Boston ballrooms and remembered when phonographs replaced live music.

″I would listen to that thing for hours,″ she said. ″That’s when I gave my piano away.″

Leary said she has never been sick a day in her life. When asked for advice on how to reach her age, she said: ″I just try to go along and not lift anything heavy.″

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