WILSON: Finding something you love to do makes retirement easy

Posted: Oct. 18, 2012 8:31 pm Updated: Nov. 29, 2012 10:15 pm


Ask most any working-age person what they want to do in their retirement and you'll probably hear about lazy summer days fishing, spoiling the smartest and best grandkids on the planet, and taking long vacations to great places.

Ask that same question of someone who has been retired for more than a few years and the picture changes somewhat.

Bill Schlegl retired about 15 years ago after teaching career that spanned 36 years. He had done grading and other paperwork all week long during his working years. He had spent his weekends planning for the next week.

"That first weekend I felt such a relief not having to do that," Schlegl said of his first taste of retirement.

Freedom from stress was just what Schlegl wanted, but it wasn't all that he wanted. He spent the summer improving his corner of Quincy. He did so much yardwork that it was a weed-free zone.

"Come September, my daughter came to me and said ‘I got you a job,' " Schlegl said.

He worked as a health care companion for senior citizens. It was part-time work, but it gave his life structure without causing undue stress.

Schlegl had other activities that he pursued, as well. He wrote religious puzzles for as many as 21 denominations. A single puzzle might take a couple of hours to put together. Others might be done much more quickly.

It was a labor of love for the deeply religious Schlegl, who taught for 12 years at a Lutheran school before he was hired at Quincy Public Schools. Sadly, only about four or five publishers still use the puzzles created by Schlegl.

"With the advent of the Internet, many of the publications have ceased," he said.

Even with the lower demand for his work, Schlegl said he feels good keeping his hand in something that matters.

Joe Conover, former editor of The Quincy Herald-Whig, started preparing himself for retirement a year or more before he stepped down on May 1, 2001. He had greatly enjoyed painting and drawing when he was in grade school. He decided he would like to do that again: doing something interesting and doing something that brought him joy.

"I had planned to do this, and by accident or by coincidence my wife had a studio where she had planned to write. It had been vacant for a while, and so I sort of adopted that space and started working there in the year before I retired," Conover said.

He studied drawing and watercolor in the studio with Rose Camastro-Pritchett. He studied monotype printing with Jason Mejer at Quincy University. He's traveled to workshops in Chicago, New York and Santa Fe, N.M.. He's also gotten involved with a gallery in Hannibal, Mo., and has a show coming up at Hannibal-LaGrange University.

"People who can find an interest that keeps them active outside of what they did for a living are very fortunate," Conover said.

"I would recommend planning ahead."

The oft-repeated quote that's attributed to Confucius and to Harvey MacKay is "Find something you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life."

Contented retirees seem to say that finding something you love to do means you won't have to work hard at being retired.