Aging & Society

Why I'm Not Retiring, Even Though I Could

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Many people who have the financial resources to retire are choosing instead to work well into their 60s, 70s and beyond.

Here are three members of the Get Old community who find their careers too satisfying and meaningful to give up.

Lynnette Scofield, 69
Owner of The William Henry Miller Inn
Ithaca, New York

In 1998, Lynette Scofield and her then-husband purchased a private home in the college town of Ithaca that had been owned by the same family since 1914. They spend four months converting the Osborn House into the nine-room William Henry Miller Inn, opening their doors to guests in March of 1999. Today, after a long career in customer service with the phone company and a stint as the owner of a wholesale jewelry business, Scofield starts preparing breakfast for her guests just after six each morning and finishes her work day around eight at night. Then she heads to her small house just behind the inn.

Scofield has turned down several offers to buy the inn. “I love the inn,” she says. “The interesting guests that stay with us, the challenge of keeping up with food trends, learning something new every day; I would miss all that if I gave up the inn. Plus, I love our staff of 8. Our innkeeper, for one, has been with us since we opened. She was 14 and she started by ironing sheets. Today, she can run the inn with one arm tied behind her back.” 

Two years after they opened the inn, Scofield and her husband divorced. “When I was going through the divorce, the inn was a real comfort,” she says. “It’s like a party you can attend every night. I still end many days, especially during the summer, sitting on the front porch, having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with the guests and chatting. I don’t have any plans to retire, but I have started taking Monday and Tuesdays off.” Her favorite part of the day is putting out the dessert buffet, a gorgeous spread of homemade sweets like white chocolate brownies, pear cornmeal tarts and snickerdoodle cookies. “I’ll be working in my office just off the dining room and I’ll hear guests say, ‘oh, my, I didn’t expect this!’ The element of surprise thrills them and that never gets old.”

Lynda O’Connor, 74
Book and author publicist
Lake Forest, Illinois

Shortly after Lynda and James O’Connor wed in 1998 they launched a book marketing company. “We were in our 50s and it was a second marriage for us both, so this was like our baby,” Lynda says. “We both have children from our first marriages; O’Connor Communications is something we’ve raised together.” In the nearly 20 years they’ve been rearing their company, they’ve never once thought about retiring. “It hasn’t even entered our brains,” Lynda says. “Working keeps you sharper because you’re involved in the world. You’re more of an interesting person because you’re engaged; you’ve got something to say.”

Operating out a home office, the O’Connors set their own schedule. “We work every day, including Saturday and Sunday, but not all day,” Lynda says. “I play tennis most mornings; I’m on the court at 8 am. When the weather allows it, we’ll have lunch outdoors, and at 5 every evening we go for an hour-long walk together.”

It is, Lynda, says, a “very well balanced life” that includes taking three vacations a year. “We don’t want to work too much but then we don’t want to play too much,” she says. “We both like feeling productive.”

Murray Grossan, M.D., 92
Physician, inventor and author
Los Angeles, California

For 60 years, Dr. Murray Grossan has been practicing medicine as an ear, nose and throat specialist. Along the way, he’s invented several products to help people keep their sinuses clear and find relief from tinnitus, or ringing in the ears. He’s also written books on health; his latest is The Whole Body Approach to Allergy and Sinus Health.

Today, Dr. Grossan sees patients four half days a week at his office at LA’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; often being called in as a medical evaluator on cases that have other doctors stumped. And, once a week, he gathers writers of all stripes—fiction, non-fiction, screenwriters, children’s book authors—for a writers group at his home.

“To stay vibrant, you need to have goals and be involved in things that have meaning to you,” Dr. Grossman says. “Some people like playing poker, I like solving problems; that gives me great pleasure and joy.”

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