Leader photo/JOHN EBY Lois and Betty Derochers host the dance club at Cass County Council on Aging.

Archived Story

Get your groove on

Published 5:24am Sunday, March 25, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — It’s Thursday morning at Cass County Council on Aging, and the country music is cranked.
That can only mean one thing — dance club, with deejay Louis Desrochers from Lewis Lake, Vandalia, and his wife, Betty.

He’s 84. She’s 82.

Married 62 years.

Lunch time is still a while away, so there’s only one couple, Bob and Peggy from Bristol, Ind., gliding around the dance floor, but it will fill before their weekly 9 a.m. to noon gig ends.

Louis’ story starts way up north with his French Canadian ancestors and makes its way south to the Upper Peninsula, where he lived in Rudyard and Sault Ste. Marie, where his $40-a-week salary printing Evening News papers and his new wife’s 50-cent-an-hour restaurant pay couldn’t sustain them.They crossed Michigan for more lucrative employment in South Bend, Ind. His check  jumped to $180, “pretty good money in those days.”

His music setup provides some clue to his background in construction. Although his custom cabinet isn’t built of bricks, it does have a stained glass window, like a wooden jukebox.

“I was a brick layer for 50 years,” he offers affably, proved by the glint of his half-century BAC wristwatch (Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen).

Desrochers came to South Bend in 1951. He also called Elkhart home before settling in the vicinity of Dr. T.K. Lawless Park.

They had a Cass County lake cottage, but replaced it with a permanent home he built.

When he retired in 1989, they began wintering in Texas until 2000.

Dance club is in its 10th year. A kid brother with more computer savvy helped him transfer his music collection from old Time-Life and Reader’s Digest records to compact discs.

In Rudyard, where he graduated in 1947, “We had an outside toilet and had to carry water,” he said, hands on his red suspenders.

Whether or not his dance floor is full doesn’t matter.

“It’s good therapy to get get together,” he said, but dancing “will keep you in shape.”

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