By Richard Backlund
If you have seen a man riding his bicycle around John Knox Village almost every day, it has to be Howard Chana. Howard is 89 and looking at 90, but his age doesn’t slow him down. His planned weekly routine is to ride his bicycle six days a week, weather permitting. His route starts from the cul-de-sac of Northlake Drive down to the Trafford security gate, then turns left to continue to Southlake Drive. Next is a turn onto Sweetgum Drive to Westlake to Trafford with a return to the Northlake cul-de-sac which he states is about five miles. When he first arrived at John Knox, he would leave the campus for his planned route, but he and his wife, Phyllis, decided it would be safer to stay on the John Knox Village campus. Since he and his wife moved to John Knox in 2014, he has ridden 5,000 miles on his bike. He has ridden a total of approximately 54,200 miles since he started riding his bike before moving here.
Howard riding at John Knox Village Central Florida
His bicycle is an America-made Schwinn given to him by the Buick Division of General Motors several years ago when he moved from one Buick Division to another after many years’ tenure. The bike stayed in the garage for quite a while before he decided to start riding it. The bike was a ten-speed, but Howard decided that changing the gear-shifting mechanism to a three-speed would work better for cycling at John Knox Village. Having a Mechanical Engineering degree made this modification easy for him.
One of the reasons Howard wasn’t interested in riding his bike immediately after receiving the gift was that he and Phyllis were flying his Piper Aero airplane. Another was his hobby of building and flying model airplanes. His back sun porch/patio is his hangar for several of these models. He has been very meticulous in the design and construction of these models. He truly is a great artist in their construction. His models probably could be
worth hundreds of dollars if the right individual could be found who enjoys flying motorized airplane models.
Howard’s Piper Aero on his back porch.
Howard is not someone to sit around waiting for the harvest moon to rise. Since his wife of 58 years passed two years ago, he and his daughter, Lesa, have taken two trips back to his hometown in Illinois. On one of the trips, he connected with a family-owned resort that Howard and his Mom, Dad and brother last visited in 1939 – 80 years ago. It just happened that the resort was celebrating its 90th year of operation. Howard was invited to attend and became the guest of honor with his stories of how things were back in those early years.