Les McPherson enjoys exercising at Senior Circle (when he’s not playing racquetball). Chaunte’l Powell Photo
Leslie “Les” McPherson is not your average 90-year-old. When he’s not exercising at Senior Circle, he can be found two or three times a week for about an hour and a half each time playing racquetball.
McPherson is no beginner to the game. He picked up racquetball 30 years ago and has been playing ever since. He also offiers unofficial lessons to those who are interested. Though he turns 91 in August, he doesn’t see any of this as out of the ordinary.
“The secret to being 90 and still playing racquetball, is you have to keep going,” he said. “I have a friend I’ve been playing with, I taught him how to play and he’s 93.” He made sure to add, “and we still have a pretty good game!”
McPherson said he came to Senior Circle several years ago after his wife passed away and he closed his store, the Cobean Stationery Co., in search of activities to occupy his time. He got exactly what he asked for.
“This place here has been a lifesaver. I came here with nothing to do and these people here have taken care of me and given me something to do.”
McPherson was born in Missouri, but spent most of his youth in Texas before coming to Roswell in 1937. After serving three years in the Navy on an aircraft carrier, he found work at a Roswell grocery store before he joined forces with Ruth and Cobean’s.
He married Ruth Cobean, daughter of Warren R. Cobean, Roswell’s mayor during the 1950s and owner of the stationary company. McPherson joined the family business in 1943 as an assistant manager and acted as the owner and operator of the store from the time the Cobean family passed away until the Roswell landmark closed in 2010. He said it was tough keeping the 95-year-old business alive.
“Big things are going out of town. People think they can do better by going out of town. We eventually got tired of fighting it and so many different things against a small business today, it’s very difficult.”
When he’s not schooling people in racquetball, he enjoys spending time in Ruidoso. McPherson travels to the home that he and Ruth bought to enjoy the scenery and the nearby wildlife.
Those at Senior Circle appreciate his personable nature. From simple conversations on his way to exercise, to an unofficial morning coffee club he formed, McPherson is as special to Senior Circle as his former business was to the city.