December 19, 2006

Older People In The Workforce

We eat lunch each work day in the parking lot at work. It sounds boring but really it is interesting because of the activity around that building and the people coming and going.

There is an older man in particular that holds my interest each day. This man has to be at least 70. He works for some type of window production place. He is agile, productive, and works safely. His job is outside of the building beside the dumpsters. He dismantles the old window frames and throws the glass windows into a dumpster so that the glass breaks.

Watching this man prompted me to wonder about other older people still working.

I found this great story about Waldo, age 104 in msnbc:
"QUINTER, Kan. — Waldo McBurney lives in two worlds: one of buggies and hitching posts — and the other of a growing trend of older Americans working longer.

Still spry and agile at 104, McBurney briskly walks most days from home to work in this High Plains farming community, where he raises bees and sells honey."
"In October, Experience Works gave McBurney its "America's Oldest Worker for 2006" award at a ceremony in Washington.

"He may not be the oldest worker but he is up there and definitely outstanding," said Cynthia Metzler, president of the national group, which provides training and employment for the senior citizens.

Metzler called McBurney "a real role model for all of us" at a time when Americans are working longer.

"People are living longer and don't have enough money to sustain themselves. Some want to work to remain active," she said.

While it can't be said definitively that McBurney actually is the oldest American working, the odds favor him."
"The United States has an estimated 77,770 centenarians, about 0.026 percent of the population. The average American life span is 77.9 years."
"After graduating from college in 1927, he worked a quarter century variously as a vocational-agricultural teacher, county extension agent and at the local co-op. In the 1950s he started a seed-cleaning business. He also took a decades-long hobby of beekeeping and went into the honey business.

He operated the seed-cleaning venture until age 91 and still raises bees and sells honey, although much less than before.

"I'm trying to get out of the bee business because my back isn't standing up like it should," he said. "I hope somebody else will be handling the bees. I'll keep a few at the house to raise our own honey."

Note: The photo in this post is of Waldo as he tends his bees.
"In 2004, McBurney published his book, "My First 100 Years: A Look Back from the Finish Line," which he sells in his office. "Selling books isn't retiring," he said. "I expect to be working."

He enjoyed running all his life and at age 65 took up long-distance running. A decade later, he began competing in the Senior Olympics, the World Masters and other events, winning 10 gold medals for track and field events.

McBurney stopped competing a couple years ago, but almost every day he still walks the four blocks from his white framed house trimmed in blue to his Main Street office. "My running got so slow I could walk as fast as I could run," he said.

He wears glasses, but his eyesight is good enough that his driver's license was renewed in September. Yes, he still drives, but not often.

McBurney lives a low-key lifestyle with his wife of 44 years, 92-year-old Vernice. They have five adult children from previous marriages."

I think Waldo and Vernice deserve an award for staying married 44 years and helping each other to live productive, active lives.


Fancy said...

A great story, Technobabe. Thanks for sharing. :)

Merry Christmas!

happy and blue 2 said...

That's really amazing. Keeping active is probably keeping him alive..

Chuck Cliff said...

You know about the Zen guy who was sick in bed and his monks asked why he didn't eat and he replied, "No work, no eat!"?

On the other hand I know of people doing supermarket bag-boy kind of work just to pay for meds or because somebody screwed the pooch on their pension

Tisha! said...

We have an expression in French: "dès que ça s'arrête, ça tombe!" - when it stops, it falls which uses a bicycle as a metaphor for life and you couldn't have said it better!

Thanks for that!