Monday, May 30, 2011

Retirement at 65? Not for Dick Mays

A hero of mine is Dick Mays. A man in his late 80s, a Sunday School teacher of mine when I was in junior high, Dick retired from Eastern Air Lines at 65 years of age, right on schedule in that then union run, government enabled airline. It was probably mandatory for him to retire, but if not, it was certainly expected. For many at Eastern that was part of the "point" of their 40 hour work week, with plenty of over-time, generous wages that enabled many of them to live in comfortable homes in Miami Springs, great health and pension benefits, paid vacations, and, of course, free flight-privileges not only on EAL but also other air carriers and not only for themselves, but also family members.

Dick said that when he went into the personnel office at Eastern to sign his retirement papers, the lady in charge of retiree processing told him this: Most of the men that she saw for that final, active connection with company were dead within 5 years.

Because, I would suggest, there was no more "point" to it all.

Dick, instead, built collector quality, small airplanes in his garage and sold them for at least the next fifteen years to very wealthy private pilots all over the world. He started teaching Bible Study classes at the prison west of Miami Springs a few miles, and still does. He became very big in "Celebrate Recovery," the overtly Christian version of AA, although I don't think he was an alcholic. (I wouldn't have thought to ask him about that, because, frankly, it was unthinkable. With Dick, you automatically know that he is either building airplanes or helping others.)

I'm reading Chuchill's account of WWII right now. He became the war-time PM of Great Britain at age 65. He had nothing on Dick.

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