Jeff worked for Marathon Oil as a petroleum engineer. In 1999, in the midst of another oil industry downturn, Marathon made Jeff an early retirement offer he couldn’t refuse. He retired at age 52.
The timing was fortunate as his mother, who lived out of state, developed serious health problems. Jeff was able to travel to help her. A few years later, when his stepdad died from Alzheimer’s, his mother moved to Denver. Because he was retired, Jeff could help his mother get to her medical appointments. In that time period, he also volunteered as a deacon at his church, where he helped transport parishioners to their medical appointments.
In addition to raising her family, Bonnie worked over the years as a teacher’s aide and in a home health care agency.
Over the past 10 years, when they were in their mid-60’s to mid-70’s, Jeff and Bonnie have focused on their grandchildren. They take them to Awana, a youth program at their church that meets one evening a week. The grandkids then sleep over, and they take them to school the following morning. This gives their daughter and her husband a break most weeks. They remain on call for the grandchildren should other needs arise in the busy family life of their daughter. They are always on the lookout for fun and/or cultural activities for them.
Jeff and Bonnie have always been active church members. They have had a particular interest in missions work. Through some out-of-state connections, Bonnie recently became aware of a young couple from Burundi, who recently arrived in Denver for seminary studies. While the couple’s tuition is covered by a scholarship, their apartment at the seminary came unfurnished. Bonnie organized a group of friends, mostly fellow members of their church, to shop yard sales and look for donations of unwanted household items, so this couple arrived to a furnished apartment. Bonnie comments “We have so much stuff. You go on Facebook Marketplace and people are giving away stuff.”
Jeff also spends time pursuing his interest in the relationship between biblical Christianity and science.
Early in retirement, Jeff worked one or two days a week helping take care of his church’s building. Now in his seventies, he finds that he doesn’t have the stamina to work as hard as he did when he was younger, finding that he can do a couple of hours of yard work but then needs a break. He also finds he needs to spend more time exercising, especially to keep his joints operational.
Jeff is working to digitize and document their old family photos, and a collection of thousands of photographs of trains. After 10 years he feels he is about halfway through.
Jeff and Bonnie continue to be deeply involved with their school-age grandchildren, pray for missions, help missionaries, serve their church, and volunteer where needed. Jeff comments “[volunteering] keeps you mentally going.”
Do you have a story about working or volunteering past “normal retirement age”? I would love to hear it. firstname.lastname@example.org