WATERVILLE — Jim and Angel O’Keeffe remember promising Bob Michaud that they would do their best to continue the good work he had accomplished during his many years at Poulin Opticians on Main Street.

In December, the O’Keeffes, owners of Joe’s Smoke Shop and Happy Trails, bought the optical business and building at 115-117 Main St., next door to their businesses at 119-123 Main. Michaud had been ill several years by then and died April 3.

“We promised Bob we’d keep his business open and take care of it,” Angel O’Keeffe said Monday.

The O’Keeffes had worked next door to Poulin for 20 years, since they bought Joe’s Smoke Shop on the corner of Main and Temple streets.

“He was a sweetheart — a really great guy,” Jim O’Keeffe said. “We had a good relationship with him.”

Michaud became too ill to continue working at his optical shop and the O’Keeffes bought the business with plans to maintain it.

“Our intention is to keep it going for another 50 years,” Jim O’Keeffe said. “We promised Bob we’d do our best to continue his legacy.”

Lisa Witham, the dispensing optician who runs the shop, has been there 12 years. She said that since Michaud’s obituary appeared in the newspaper earlier this month, people have been asking if the shop is still open.

“A lot of people have been calling and stopping in and checking to see if we are, but there are still people who don’t know,” Witham said.

Witham, who has 15 years of optical experience, said Michaud tried to keep up with the business, but just could not as he got more ill.

“A year ago he was coming in, just not staying long because he took sick,” Witham said. “At that point, he was determined to come in and he would try, but he got so tired and so weak. He was a very nice man. I miss him very much.”

The shop sells eyeglasses and sunglasses and repairs glasses, she said.

“People can bring in prescriptions and we fill the prescriptions, and hopefully at some point we’ll carry more of a variety of sunglasses,” she said.

The O’Keeffes’ building at 119-123 Main St. is on the National Register of Historic Places and they have been renovating it. They installed 20 new windows made in Waterville, using matching funds from a program headed up by Waterville Main Street.

They hope to get the Poulin building next door on the National Register as well and continue renovating both buildings using historic tax credits if possible. Both are in the historic district, which runs from Temple to Spring streets.

“We’re going to see what’s available and try to do our part in fixing up our two buildings downtown,” Jim O’Keeffe said. “We’re going to continue fixing them up when we can, as often as we can, until it is completed.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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