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Nearly all described themselves as "retired" though not one had withdrawn, taken leave, or retreated from the action and passions of life.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

Telecom retirees answer call of history, preserve important artifacts

By Phil Burgess | May 13, 2019

Unabridged from my weekly Bonus Years column the Life section of the Annapolis Capital, Sunday, May 12, 2019 For nearly four years, beginning in 2005, I had the privilege of working as senior executive in the largest telecommunications company in a nation not my own.  That company was Telstra, Australia’s telecommunications giant, which also owned…

You’re never too old to serve those in need — and there are many

By Phil Burgess | May 8, 2019

During March and April, I visited a close friend who spent nearly two months in the rehab unit at Heritage Harbor. Nearly every visit included meeting other interesting people who were also visiting my popular friend. During one visit, I met retired Verizon manager Rhonda Jackson. After she arrived, I devoted most of my time…

A life of service to the ‘seats of power’ does not end when your career ends

By Phil Burgess | January 13, 2019

New Year’s Eve was a dreary day in Annapolis.  It was cold and rainy.  Little did I know that my day would soon be filled with the light of Frank Jones whose uplifting manner and inspiring story could raise the spirits of even a Scrooge or Grinch. It goes like this.  Jones was born in…

The value of a story is in the telling, even the greatest story ever told

By Phil Burgess | December 25, 2018

Among life’s many blessings are opportunities we have to help another realize a dream. We do it all the time, especially with our life partners and our children – everything from enduring faithfulness to a bicycle at Christmas for a hopeful 10-year-old. Less frequently, but sometimes even with a good friend or protégé, we learn…

Annapolis man turns his setbacks into a comeback

By Phil Burgess | December 18, 2018

Last week, Mary Sue and I were ringing bells for the Salvation Army’s red donation kettle located at City Dock by Zachery’s jewelry store in downtown Annapolis. That’s when I first met Steve Rice. Like many others that brisk Monday morning, Rice dropped a contribution into the kettle. As I said, “Thanks a lot, sir…and…

You can’t separate a boy from his toys, no matter his age

By Phil Burgess | November 27, 2018

I’ve known Bill Lesko for more than two decades. But not really, I discovered. Last week, I found out why: Lesko and his partner, Martha Fox, a retired elementary school math teacher, are always on the go. Lesko is always interesting – beginning with his six-years of volunteer work to restore and crew the SS…

Thanksgiving, fall’s finale, is just around the corner

By Phil Burgess | November 18, 2018

Thursday next is Thanksgiving – first proclaimed by George Washington in 1789 and formally established as a national holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. None of us should need a special day to count our blessings or express gratitude. Still, Thanksgiving is a special American celebration – dating back to the Pilgrims’ landing in Massachusetts…

Disposing of cherished historic cars is a new kind of downsizing

By Phil Burgess | October 28, 2018

Our bonus years spark thoughts of “the good ‘ole days.”  I’m not talking about board games like Monopoly, card games like canasta or fads like hula hoops.  I’m thinking about important things – like your first car. My first car was a ’37 Chevy.  Though nearly 20 years old, it was no jalopy. It was…

The need for transition assistance happens at all ages

By Phil Burgess | October 14, 2018

(The 50-seat Light House Bistro is more than a restaurant. It is also what some people call a “social enterprise” — a business enterprise that has social goals embedded in its business objectives. [Joshua McKerrow / Capital Gazette file]) Several months ago, I discovered the Light House Bistro at 202 West Street, along with several…

Looking after aging mother transforms lives of caregiving sisters

By Phil Burgess | October 9, 2018

I’ve just seen life from the inside out, a view that can only be conveyed by storytelling. That was my first thought as I finished reading Melanie Merriman’s Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging, winner of American Book Fest’s Best Book Award in the Autobiography-Memoir category and a…