Dr. William Hart, Penacook Place’s new medical director, listens to the heartbeat of Janette Waldron, one of his 18 patients at the nursing and rehabilitation center.

Dr. William Hart has been helping families stay healthy and happy for the past half century. Now, at age 77, retirement is still far from the radar screen; so far that he is taking on more responsibility as Penacook Place’s newest medical director.

“I’m thrilled and think it will be a good job that will enable me to get closer to the patients,” said Hart, who began his Hampstead, N.H., family practice in 1960. Hart has been taking care of 18 patients at Penacook Place for several years. He will now report to the nonprofit nursing and rehabilitation center on a more regular basis — about three to four days per week.

A fellow of the American Board of Family Practice, Hart is a gentle, friendly and witty man always armed with a full arsenal of jokes and one-liners.

“I am pleased that Dr. Hart is overseeing the care of Penacook Place residents,” Penacook CEO Julian Rich said. “He has a long history of providing high-quality medical care to his patients. Dr. Hart’s approach to patient care is consistent with Penacook’s golden rule: to care for our residents as we would want to be cared for.”

The 160-bed Penacook Place is the only not-for-profit nursing and rehabilitation facility serving the city of Haverhill. Penacook Place has a professional staff of 230 employees. Contributions that support the purchase of new equipment, renovations and resident activities can be made to the Friends of Penacook Fund, c/o Penacook Place, 150 Water St., Haverhill, MA, 01830.

Dr. Hart spoke with The Haverhill Gazette.

Birthplace: At home in Lawrence.

Education: Boston College, and M.D. at National University of Ireland.

Family: My wife, Audrey, and five children. I tell people only one of my kids is “in jail,” and he’s a captain for the Londonderry (N.H.) Police Department.

Hobbies: Cooking, gardening and reading.

What do you like most about your job? Being able to help people.

What do you like least? The paperwork!

What do you hope to accomplish? I’d like to climb Mount Monadnock again.

Why did you choose your career? I’m eager to make people happy and healthy. When I was a kid I saw a doctor give out a handful of candy from his pocket and told myself that was the kind of job I wanted.

Do you have pets? A pit bull named Roxy. She can’t read though, so she doesn’t know she is supposed to be ferocious.

Alternate career choice: I wouldn’t do anything else.

Type of entertainment preferred: I’m a pretty big Red Sox fan.

Favorite magazines: Cooking magazines.

Kind of music: Music of the 1950s.

Favorite books: Mystery novels.

Favorite quote: “Life is hard.”

Proudest accomplishment: My family.

Pet peeve: Smoking. When I’m driving and I see a young person smoking, I just want to stop the car and tell them to stop.

Favorite vacation spot: Florida

If you could be anyone else: I’m happy just being me.

Which person, living or dead, would you want to join for dinner and why? Cardinal Richard J. Cushing who was the archbishop of the archdiocese of Boston until his death in 1970. He seems like a pretty interesting guy.

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