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Nearly all described themselves as "retired" though not one had withdrawn, taken leave, or retreated from the action and passions of life.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

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…

Engineer who helped US subs run silent also plays accordion

By Phil Burgess | June 14, 2020

After reading last week’s Bonus Years column on assisted living and other types of senior housing that have developed over the years, Annapolitan Dick Schoeller gave me a call. “Hey, Phil,” he said, “I read your column today.  I took a different path.  We should talk.” Anytime I get a call from Dick Schoeller I…

Post-pandemic cultural change likely, but how much?

By Phil Burgess | May 17, 2020

For nearly two months, we’ve been called to “shelter in place” as part of a public health strategy to beat the coronavirus.  Like most others our family has complied.   At first, I was proud of our compliance, but as time passed, I’ve realized it was a forced change in lifestyle because we didn’t have a…

Man pushes a boulder up a hill like the myth of Sisyphus

Retired physician takes a time-out before re-entering the fray

By Phil Burgess | May 3, 2020

“Fifty years ago, I made a decision to go to George Washington University medical school.  I’ve never regretted it.  Now, having turned 75, I decided it’s time to retire.”  Those were the words of Dr. Robert Greenfield, our family physician since we moved to Annapolis in 1993. Greenfield continued, “I’m so grateful for the opportunity…

When in doubt, consult wisdom based on decades of experience

By Phil Burgess | April 19, 2020

The coronavirus is hitting older Americans harder than any other age cohort.  Older Americans are vulnerable because many have pre-existing conditions that make them susceptible to the disease.  Some infection data show, for example, that a 76-year-old is 20 times more likely than a 36-year-old to die from COVID-19. Many others cannot isolate themselves because,…

Safe at home during coronavirus pandemic, remember blessings don’t always roar

By Phil Burgess | April 5, 2020

A recurring bonus years’ theme is the idea that with age comes perspective and balance, virtues born of knowledge and experience. Sometimes we flaunt it.  Think of the comment, “I’ve seen this movie before” – as a know-it-all flashes his or her familiarity with what’s going on and how it’s going to end. More often,…

Stuff matters less in retirement. Give experiences.

By Phil Burgess | December 22, 2019

With only three shipping days till Christmas, last-minute gift-buying can be a source of tension.  Some gift-buying decisions are easy.  For example, for young ones, there’s the rule of four: something they want; something they need; something they wear; and something they read. However, gift-buying for friends or relatives in their bonus years can be…

Life is enriched when we carry life-long interests into retirement

By Phil Burgess | December 8, 2019

As Dr. Seuss might have said, last week was special, special-er than most, because I got to meet Captain Brian Hope. Hope, born on Thanksgiving Day in 1943 in Lowell, Massachusetts, is a man of many talents honed during 76 circumnavigations of the Sun – and many more around the waters of the Chesapeake Bay…

The 111th Naval Construction Battalion landing at Omaha Beach before the Mulberry was installed, 6 June 1944.

From Okinawa to Eastport, WWII vet still engaged

By Phil Burgess | December 1, 2019

Anyone who has read Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation knows that more than 16 million American men and women served in WWII.  Though nearly 15.5 million came home, fewer than 400,000 survive – and fewer than 6,000 WWII survivors live in Maryland. Despite the odds, it was my privilege and honor to meet one of…

Somewhere woman enriches her later life

By Phil Burgess | November 24, 2019

Unabridged Bonus Years Column from the Life section of the Annapolis Capital, Sunday, November 24, 2019 Back in 2017, British demographer and commentator, David Goodhart, introduced the idea of “Somewhere” people and “Anywhere” people – what he calls “the new Great Divide” in the cultures of the UK and US. Tailoring Goodhart, Somewheres are people…