Illuminating Later Life

From Baby Boomer to Luminary* as later-life Americans navigate the uncharted territory of increasing longevity.

* A person who mentors, inspires or influences others.

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We provide — and seek from you — original and curated items that make life
in the Bonus Years easier to understand and easier to navigate.

Retirement is surely a dead-end idea…literally. Retirement is also a recent idea….and a pretty depressing idea, at that. Look it up in the dictionary. My Oxford says to “retire” is to withdraw, go away. retreat, give up, seek seclusion. Sounds like fun! The Oxford definitions include “retiring from the world” or “to retire unto oneself” or to become unsociable, uncommunicative, withdrawn from society. Who wouldn't want to do that?

But we have a different idea. We believe that successful aging is best achieved by active engagement with others.

Bonus Years Biographies


Brenda Schoener


"We should not wait till the end to talk about life's lessons.  

We should talk about them now, while I can.  It has prompted my friends and family to also share deeply with their dear ones the legacy they see in them. Everyone is enriched when they learn of their significance to you.  

At some point you won't be able to tell them, so tell them now while you can."

Read more of Brenda's story here.


Craig Sewell


"I'm not changing my game. I'm just changing my approach to the game. As you grow older, you find that real change is too often measured in inches and feet and not miles, but you also learn that every foot counts and winners never quit."

Read more of Craig's story here.

Ted Levitt, who ran Chick and Ruth's Delly in Annapolis after his parents died, talks about retiring and selling the business to new owner Keith Jones late last year. (Joshua McKerrow / Capital Gazette)

Ted Levitt

Until then I have to say it’s both humbling and inspiring to be around Ted and Beth Levitt. They are people who walk their talk. Gratitude, beginning with love of country and those who protect it, is expressed in everything they talk about and everything they do.

... He does it now, giving full time to what used to be hobbies and pastimes, bonus years pursuits to which he brings a lifetime of experience honoring our country and its can-do spirit.

He has a small placard in his living room which says, “I’m not retired. I’m just getting started.” 

Read more of Ted's story here.

greatest generation

Jim Merna

“Made a difference” is an understatement. Since leaving the Marine Corps in 1953 and continuing today, Merna has devoted his bonus years life to volunteer activities, primarily in veterans’ affairs. ...

As Merna lost himself in thought, he reiterated, “I love the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Academy. I promote them every day of my life. It’s easy because I cherish being a Marine, which means you never have to worry about what you might have been; when you wear the Marine uniform, you already know.”

Read more of Jim's story here.

greatest generation

Arthur Savage

Savaged explained, “A totally blind and smiling teenager from the group boarded my boat." ...

Savage continued, “With my hand on top of his, we shifted places. I then asked him to tell me on which side of his face the wind was blowing. ... He then learned to move the tiller to change course, according to the wind’s direction. Then I took my hand off the tiller. He was smiling from ear to ear. He also kept us on course all afternoon.

“That’s when I said both to myself and to him: ‘Wow he’s got it.’ ”

Savage concluded, “This experience was tremendously gratifying. Once again, I experienced first-hand what volunteering is all about. It also helped me answer the ‘what’s next?’ in my life. All in all, the last 20 years have given me the chance to give back, and it’s far from over.”

Read more of Arthur's story here.

The Length of Our Days

Days in the average American life span

Average life expectancy
in days at age 65

Chances to leave
a legacy

"It’s better to wear out than rust out.”  That is the message of Reboot!  For men and women navigating change and planning for life’s transitions – all the while striving to finish well – Reboot! provides a roadmap for living a life of meaning, challenging the reader to be a Luminary not a retiree.  Burgess boldly asserts that retirement is a deadly disease, and that work after a life of work is the best option for post-career years that are meaningful, productive, healthy, and satisfying.

Bonus Years Columns

Unabridged articles from my weekly Bonus Years column in the
Lifestyle section of The Sunday Capital Gazette, Annapolis, Maryland

Jailtime, cruise ships provide alternative lifestyles for seniors

Readers of a certain age will remember Art Linkletter, the radio and television talk-show pioneer who, for 25 years, hosted...

Time to cultivate longtime relationships is a bonus years benefit

Tomorrow is Labor Day, first celebrated in 1882 in New York City.  By 1885, Labor Day celebrations had spread to...

Writer in bonus years has more chapters on her to-do list

(Photo credit: Annapolis resident Priscilla Cummings is the author of recently published young adult book, "Cheating for the Chicken Man"....

Journalist John Frece retires to life of writing, grandparenting and advocacy

Photo above: from left, John Frece, Nadja Maril, the late journalist Robert "Bob" Timberg and Priscilla Cummings at a reception for...

At age 99, the autobiography is used to share inspiring stories of a life well-lived

Celebrities, they say, are known for being known. Heroes, by contrast, are known for their deeds – for results and...

‘Golden Girls’ sitcom gets real-life reboot

In a recent article on aging, Kori Miller asks “How do you feel about growing old? For some, it’s a...

Nice to meet you!

I’m a Bonus Years guy. My business is helping Luminaries navigate age-related transitions – and writing interesting stories about those who do it successfully.
My aim: To inspire others to do the same.

The Annapolis Institute is a private, nonpartisan think tank. The Institute, established in 1993, has two purposes: (1) To help leadership at all levels to anticipate the forces shaping the lives of people, communities, and institutions in the 21st century -- including technology, demography, politics, the economy and culture; and (2) to advance principled leadership in the management of business enterprises, government agencies and non-profit organizations.

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