Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the last interview I had the opportunity to do face-to-face was in March. In upcoming weeks, one of the 126 weekly interviews that were previously published will be shared with readers. This article was originally published on Oct. 8, 2017.
If you don’t recognize the name Richard Devaney, he is better known as "Gump." He is a popular town icon in Phoenixville.
His childhood days through the fourth grade were spent in the Corner Stores area (Valley Forge & Whitehouse roads) before his family moved to Zollar Drive in East Pikeland.
After graduating, he first worked for 10 years for Boiler Engineering & Supply Co. on Second Avenue, then in the Great Valley School District for 31 years. He retired in 2005 to care for the love of his life, his wife Pat.
She was the one to give him the nickname of “Gump” after the film “Forrest Gump” was released. As he is as gentle, kind and loving man as the title character of the movie. His favorite line from the book is “I may not be a smart man, but I know what love is.”
“Love” well describes his life. Along with Pat, there were three children – Richard III, Tina and Melissa and five grandkids.
The Devaney family traveled yearly to visit Pat’s mother and family in Ashboro, N.C. Gump recalled all three meals each day were like a banquet of food. Talk about Southern hospitality and delicious eating.
In 2009, Pat spread her wings, leaving this world. A few years, Melissa went to be with her mother at the very young age of 44. Gump was at a loss. Retired, with Pat gone and a lot of time on his hands, he turned to the world of photography.
He is one of Phoenixville’s popular photographers. Daily sharing his pictures and inspirational writings on Facebook. Gump took over the administration of “You Know You’re From Phoenixville When” page with the membership of approximately 400 members. Today, the site expanded to well over 11,000. He is a real supporter of all of the area events and fundraising events.
Daily you can find him and fellow photographers combing the streets —snapping and sharing their finds. Several years ago, he met Nancy McGuigan on a street corner while she was walking her dog. Today, they are best buddies ... friends ... sidekicks ... “the tag team gang." Together and separately, either can be found somewhere in Phoenixville, usually with a camera.
His food interest tends to be a “meat & potato guy.” He dearly loves a good meatloaf. So here is a meatloaf and a potato recipe for you to try.
THE BEST MEATLOAF RECIPE
1 ½ lbs. ground beef or combo mixture
1 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ cup bread crumbs
1 medium onion, chopped
3 Tbsp. chopped green pepper
1 Tbsp. ketchup
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
Additional ketchup for drizzling
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients together, except the meat. Crumble the beef over the mixture & mix well. Press into an ungreased standard loaf pan. Bake 350-degree preheat oven for at least one hour. Drizzle additional ketchup on top & bake 15 minutes longer. Meat thermometer should have reach 160-degrees.
CHEESEY BAKED POTATOES
6-8 Yukon gold potatoes, halved lengthwise
¼ cup salted butter
¾ grated cheese (Parmesan)
1 tsp. black pepper
Melt butter in bottom of 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle cheese generously over butter. Sprinkle pepper. Place potatoes, cut side down into the butter. Preheat oven to 400-degrees & bake for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to set for a few minutes before moving from pan. This helps to make them crispier.
UPDATE: Today “Mr. Gump” (as I call him) can still be found around town with his camera in hand. He loves to share the photos on “You Know You’re From Phoenixville When” Facebook page, along with daily thoughts and reflections. He is one of the group’s administers that now has 15,740 members and growing every day. It has become the happy daily news outlet for folks in the Phoenixville area. His faith hit another testing with his son Richie’s passing to join his mother and sister in July 2019.