Friday, September 21, 2007

We Should All Be So Lucky, to Have Longevity AND Health...and Still Want to Work!

Last summer, Ray Jenkins turned 100 years old and became the oldest worker in Vermont.He said he’d probably retire.
He said 30 years in the Champlain Valley Exposition's maintenance department was enough.But when the 2007 fair opened 10 days ago, Jenkins was at his post - a feat that will win him a national award in October as the oldest worker in the country.Jenkins doesn't much appreciate all the fanfare.
He told Matt Ryan of the Free Press, "I think they could have found someone else."
As Ryan noted, upon meeting him, “Jenkins, wearing a cap, gray jumpsuit and jacket, stood hunched over a shelf organizing tools last week. He works out of a supply closet in the H.F. "Ray" Jenkins Maintenance Facility, a 40-by-60-foot warehouse named in his honor. He arranges quarts of oil, cords, wires and plugs; organizes tool boxes; and keeps records of equipment maintenance. He's also well trained in electronics and mechanics, and is the go-to guy for help with some of the older equipment.”"I can't sit quiet and do nothing," Jenkins said. "I've got to keep going. Keeps your mind occupied. If you don't keep busy, forget it."Ray’s been married to his wife, Edna, 95, for 70 years. Last January the family had to move Edna, who has Alzheimer's disease, to a nursing home. "We had to decide what was best for us, and for her," Bob Jenkins said."
According to Ryan, “Horatio "Ray" F. Jenkins was born July 18, 1906, in Amenia, N.Y. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1932 and worked as an engineer at General Electric during the 1940s. He worked as a mortician's assistant, chauffeur and policeman, ran a bake shop with Edna, and started work with IBM in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in 1952. He was transferred to the Essex Junction plant in 1957. In 1971, at the age of 65, he was forced to retire. "He went kicking and screaming, but he went," Bob Jenkins said.“
Bob Jenkins retired from IBM in 1994, began work at the fairgrounds and became his father's boss. "He's worked five days a week until this year," Bob Jenkins said. "This year I put the clamps on him. I brought him down to three days a week, and he was pretty disgusted with me." ”
In a related story, the life expectancy for Americans is now nearly 78 years, the longest in U.S. history, according to new government figures from 2005 released Thursday.

We should all be blessed with that kind of longevity and health, AND the will to keep on going and keep on working!


Rachel said...

I hope I'm like that (with a swelte Esther Williams figure) when I'm 100.

(channelling Judy Tenuta "It can happen")

JMK said...

You know, I suppose that kind of longevity, even with good health is part blessing and part curse, as people that old have certainly faced a lot of loss - so many family and friends gone.

As to the blessing part, I guess living long sure beats the alternative.

But more and more people are living longer and healthier, which is generally good, except for the added costs associated with that may quickly become a very bloated social security system.

I expect the retirment age to rise, as life expectancies extend.

I'm hoping you'll have that "svelte Esther Williams figure" when your 100 too (and may you win the lottery a couple times in that span as well) for me, I'd like to be half as fit as Jack LaLane was at that point, if I get to that age.

I guess that means I could only tow 35 boats, carrying 35 people across 1.5 miles of choppy water.

I'm taking that from one of Jack LaLane's feats; "Once again handcuffed and shackled, Jack fought strong winds and currents as he swam 1.5 miles while towing 70 boats with 70 people from the Queen's Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary."

Hmmmm, maybe a third as fit would be OK too.

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