Octagenarian has spent a decade of his retirement restoring stone walls in his community

It's backbreaking work for an 87-year-old, but he says it's "better than sitting in the rocking chair."


Countless stone walls crisscross Massachusetts.

Bill Doherty, 87, of Westwood, has spent his retirement restoring and rebuilding them. He's been doing the backbreaking labor of selecting and arranging the stones to build sturdy walls without mortar or cement for about a decade now.

He's a former purchasing agent who has completed hundreds of walls since his so-called retirement, and he has no plans to slow down.

"This is better than sitting in the rocking chair," he said. "They always say exercise is good for longer life. I believe in that."

Doherty's latest project, a rare paid gig, is a new 250-foot wall for Michael Brait.

"He's almost three weeks into it and he's almost put down 70 tons of boulders," Brait said about Doherty's progress. "You have to see it for yourself. It's just an amazing feat at 87 years old. I don't know how he does it."

Doherty's process can be, at times, unconventional.

"I don’t lift with my legs, I think that’s an old wives tale," he said.

But he's always methodical.

"You always have to step back and observe."

Doherty estimates it will take about two weeks to finish the wall on Brait's property. When that's done, he's already got other projects lined up.