Retiring? Here's a good plan
By Jack Markowitz
Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
People facing retirement in this era of longer life spans are scared they'll run out of money. A likelier pitfall is running out of life, says Chester Silverman. “Inactivity creates old people,” he says.
Silverman doesn't set up as an expert on the life after working life.
But he could. He's been at it for 28 years, now that he's “93 and a half,” which is how he states his age.
He's not sure he would have got there sitting home watching TV. “If you let yourself be a couch potato, that's what you'll be,” he says.
Here's how he stays with it.
First, by volunteering up to 10 hours a week visiting veterans. Twenty years ago he helped found a shelter for homeless vets and it's still going strong.
Senior centers offer lots of activities and Silverman gets to one nearby, usually twice a week. He plays bridge at weekly tournaments. Three times a month he goes dancing with a girlfriend — who is 88. He takes a cruise every year, attends operas beamed into movie houses, still drives a 1995 Cadillac, cooks his own breakfasts and goes out to dinner most evenings.
All this on far from a millionaire's income. With no pension either.
An ideal end-of-career plan should reduce one's lifestyle not a whit, but Silverman finds that “living expenses go down in retirement.”
True, he's been lucky. A pack-a-day smoking habit didn't flatten him. A hip replacement at age 90 left him walking with a cane, but he leaves it at the table when dancing with pal Florence Rogow, a widow and retired school teacher. One day 11 years ago he suddenly couldn't catch his breath and threw the cigarettes away permanently.
There are energetic oldsters like this everywhere, of course. Chester Silverman was tracked down in Baltimore, Md., where he retired at 65 from work that may not exist anymore: “collection salesman.” He sold clothing, appliances and furniture, then went around to customers' homes to collect weekly payments. Credit cards didn't exist then.
It wasn't until age 50, after three kids were through college, that Silverman could save in earnest.
He managed to put enough away in bank savings certificates, not stocks, that despite miserable interest rates of late he's able to withdraw “a few thousand bucks a year” to supplement Social Security. If necessary, he could cash-in his house, bought decades ago for $20,000, now worth probably 10 times that.
An Army medic in World War II, Silverman kept active as a veteran. He served as commander of both Jewish War Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts and also as state commander of the JWV. In 1993 he helped found a homeless veterans shelter in Baltimore. McVET Inc., the Maryland Center for Veterans Education and Training, has grown to 100,000 square feet, a staff of 43, and annual budget of $3.1 million. It's housing and counseling 225 men and women and has about 70 percent success getting them back on their feet, Executive Director David T. Clements told a caller.
A weekly visit Chester Silverman never misses is to the grave of his wife Gloria, who died a decade ago after 60 years of marriage. “I talk to her,” he says unabashedly. “When she talks back I'll know I'm gone.”
Jack Markowitz is a Thursday columnist for Trib Total Media. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Garden Q&A: Firecracker vine OK for trellis?
- Film tax credits bill would bump up state budget
- Penguins notebook: Stars taking their turns with No. 1 power play
- Pirates minor league notebook: Mt. Lebanon grad keeping steady approach
- Bucco Blog: Travis Sawchik
- Stats Corner: Pirates’ Volquez cruising through innings
- State police: People injured in Parkway crash resulting from police chase
- Davis embraces new opportunity with Pirates
- Biertempfel: Kendall’s book offers inside look at life in majors
- Mail for IRS delivered to Squirrel Hill home
- Patients denied as donor organs discarded