Bonus Years Biographies

I have been through the process of living in a post-career environment, and I know it can be unsettling. But in the course of my work, I don't rely only on my own experience or only on formal research reports.

I have also talked to literally hundreds of post-career Americans engaged in post-career work, such as:

  • a part-time barista at Starbucks,
  • entrepreneurs who have started new business ventures…some even exporting to overseas markets;
  • a volunteer soccer coach for a girls' soccer team,
  • paid consultants in a variety of jobs – from knowledge workers to blue collar workers,
  • a part-timer who sacks groceries at a Safeway…and another who ferries Hertz rental cars to airports,
  • a SCORE volunteer one day week,
  • the chairman of the lay council of a local parish – a job that consumes about 15 hours a week; and others.


Nearly all described themselves as "retired" though not one had withdrawn, taken leave, or retreated from the action and passions of life.

Unfortunately, we do not yet have a language to describe people who continue to be fully engaged in life, including work, after they leave their careers…and words like "retirees," "oldsters," "elders" and the like don't work. This is amazing when you stop to consider that we have good studies based on reliable data to indicate that as many as two-thirds to three-fourths (66% to 75%) of later-life Americans want and expect to continue to work in their post-career years.

The Bonus Years Living blog is designed to show the cultural transformation that is taking place in America. This is a result of the remarkable determination of so many later-life Americans to remain engaged in work that will allow them to continue to use their gifts of time, treasure and talent to help others and repair the world.
We also invite those in the larger community to submit their own stories or to tell us about inspiring stories they have encountered in their family, neighborhood, or other venue where later-life Americans can be found fully engaged in the world of work.  If you have ideas along these lines, please leave us a message: Contact Us.

Autumn is a time to share in the lessons of letting go

By Phil Burgess | November 21, 2021

Heart-warming are the changing seasons of life. When I was a youngster, life was about winter, spring, summer and fall – and each season had its highlights, beginning with Santa Claus in the winter. As I grew older, I came to see winter, spring, summer and fall more properly – i.e., as the seasons of…

Never adrift, an elder sailor still navigating at 89

By Phil Burgess | October 31, 2021

“Come for the sailing. Stay for the friendships.” If that sounds like the kind of invitation that might flourish on the Chesapeake Bay, it is. In fact, the “sailing and friendships” call-to-action is the moniker of Singles on Sailboats – known as SOS – a Chesapeake Bay organization that has thrived for more than 40…

Engaging the next generation requires learning their language

By Phil Burgess | August 15, 2021

Many of a certain age will remember the film, Grumpy Old Men.  That was back in 1993 when two curmudgeonly neighbors, a cantankerous John Gustafson (Jack Lemmon) and a belligerent Max Goldman (Walter Matthau), were constantly at each other’s throat.  Despite the constant nagging and bickering, Grumpy was a box office hit.  Maybe it was…

Grandchildren have been the greatest joy among the disruptions of 2020

By Phil Burgess | December 13, 2020

As we approach the end of 2020, many I talk to are saying this year can’t end too soon.   And for good reason.  The year 2020 has been filled with a lot of noise and friction we would like to forget.  An ugly impeachment. A one-of-a-kind presidential election.  Unprecedented and deadly forest fires that erupted…

Berkman’s “lifequake” sent him on a mission to end prison slavery

By Phil Burgess | November 15, 2020

Just when everything seems to be going smoothly, life sometimes hits you in the head with a brick: cancer, a heart attack or other life-threatening illness; the loss of a loved one; a business failure or financial crisis; a physical disability, depression or other mental health challenge.  Most of us have had our share of…

Nana time is the latest response to coronavirus disruptions

By Phil Burgess | August 30, 2020

For those in their bonus years, the shift to retirement is one of the most important transitions they will make.  Especially today because ours is the first generation to reach its bonus years with the likelihood of living an additional 20-30 years – many to age 90-plus.  Increasing longevity is why a life plan to…

From WWII island hopping and the A-bomb to surgeon, civic leader, centenarian

By Phil Burgess | August 9, 2020

This article was originally published with the title “Phil Burgess: World War II vet says Truman’s decision to use A-bomb saved U.S. lives”. Thursday marked the 75th anniversary of the first wartime use of an atomic weapon when, on August 6, 1945, the US bombed the Japanese port city of Hiroshima. Today is also a…

The Navy and Rotary are bookends of a life serving others

By Phil Burgess | August 2, 2020

Like many others in their bonus years, my K-12 years were marked by the Cold War between the US and the former Soviet Union, which included a nuclear arms race and later the space race.  This stirred my interest in national security policy, which led to a 30-year career as a professor teaching national security…

At age 100, Annapolitan centenarian is still using his gifts

By Phil Burgess | July 12, 2020

A few weeks back, we noted the US Census Bureau’s forecast that the US will have 130,000 centenarians by 2030, up from 53,000 in 2010. Two weeks ago, on June 26, 2020, the Annapolis area did its part, when Ken Nagler of Edgewater, a Bonus Years subject from yesteryear, celebrated his 100th birthday. Kenneth Nagler…

Age-proofing the home is needed for successful aging-in-place

By Phil Burgess | June 28, 2020

With nine out of 10 Americans aging in place and with more Americans living into their mid-80s and mid-90s, finding ways to create an age-friendly living environment is high on the agenda of aging Americans in every region of the country.  Downsizing or moving to single-level living is one approach.  Renovating an existing home is…