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Rick Hoffman, Sam Cannan, Rick Aubin, Gale Newton and Lois Heesters. Not pictured, Dave Skocik.

ODESSA – Rick Aubin, a watchmaker from New York has retired to Delaware to be with family and to train veterans in his highly specialized skill at the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative in Odessa.

Training of the first six students from Delaware and several other states will begin after a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, September 13, at 10 a.m., according to school founder Sam Cannan, a master watchmaker who trained in Switzerland.

Mr. Cannan, a former Baltimore police officer, moved to Kitts Hummock nine years ago. Since then he has spent a great deal of time working to establish a facility to train disabled military veterans, whose unemployment rate is a dismal 82 percent.

Mr. Aubin, a veteran of the Vermont Air National Guard, trained at the Joseph Bulova School of Watchmaking in 1971 in Queens, NY, which eventually closed as a result of the advent of quartz watch technology in the 1970s and 80s.

Since then, however, mechanical watches have been enjoying a world-wide resurgence and new professionals are urgently needed. The Veterans Watchmaker Initiative, unique in the nation, will help fill that need by training disabled veterans.

Mr. Aubin’s more than 4 decades as a watchmaker includes work for an uncle’s jewelry store until the uncle retired and independent work for numerous stores throughout New England until his wife’s career led him to New York and additional training at Rolex, Omega, and Cartier.

“My retirement to Delaware allows us to be closer to our daughters and their families and to contribute to the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative as a volunteer instructor. It is my privilege to give back to those who have served our country.”

The Odessa location is the forerunner of a planned school in Middletown, Del., that will accommodate as many as 25 students. “Disabled veterans will be housed, fed and trained at no cost to them. That’s the least we can do for those who gave so much,” said Mr. Cannan.

Contributions are tax deductible. Visit www.veteranswatchmakerinitiative.org or call 302-465-2421 for more information.

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