Date: July 1st, 2004
Retiring and taking it easy isn't a part of John Young's life plan. At age 76, Young still works 30 hours per week as owner of his firm, Young Engineers & Surveyors, in Hollidaysburg, PA, plays racquetball and tennis competitively, skis in the winter, and is actively involved in community activities.
As a consultant for Hoss's Steak and Sea Houses restaurant chain, Young visits the restaurant home office every day, using the onsite racquetball court to compete with players of all ages.
"I play racquetball three times a week since taking off 20 pounds," said Young, who at 6'2'' is a trim 183 pounds. "I usually win my racquetball league at a local club competing with others my own age, and I'm in third place at the work league. All of the guys there are much younger than I am, which makes it a lot of fun for an old man to beat up on a 30-year old."
Young also started "getting serious" about playing tennis in the past year and plays once a week. As the oldest player, he won the county seniors mixed doubles last year. He played the game occasionally for years, standing in as a substitute player during the seven years that his wife, Mary Jane, was a high school tennis coach.
Between Thanksgiving and March Young travels a short distance to Blue Knob in Claysburg, PA to ski two or three times a week or whenever the weather is decent and the slopes are not too crowded.
His physically active lifestyle has contributed to his good health. "I don't take any medications," Young said, "just Advil for a cranky back in the mornings. I've always been healthy and have never been in the hospital."
It's never too late to try new activities, and Young's latest endeavor was in sprinting. He trained with his son and grandson to run the Penn State 100-yard Relay. He regretted that he didn't start training sooner for the race because he experienced an injury, a pulled quad in his right leg that halted all training three weeks before the race. Still, he placed 7th in a field of eight runners.
Besides having a busy work life and staying active in sports, Young and Mary Jane are involved in the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, an organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for people who have mental illnesses. Young serves on the Pennsylvania state board for the organization. One of Young's sons had schizophrenia and took his life after being on medication for 20 years. "Medications for the mentally ill are better than they used to be and treatment is better, but it still is not what it ought to be," Young said. "So we advocate for those issues."
Never Retire From Life
Young's advice for other older adults is to stay active and involved. "Anybody I talk to that is thinking about retiring, I tell them it is the wrong thing to do," he said. "It might be okay to retire from where they are because of their pension plan or competition at that location from new people coming in and so on. But they should always find a job someplace, even if working in a library or doing other volunteer work-working at a shelter for the homeless, tutoring kids in school, or mowing the lawn for a church. Just so they don't sit in front of the television and die."
As for Young, he doesn't intend to slow down any time soon. He and Mary Jane just returned from a sailing trip in the Caribbean. Now, he is looking into his next adventure, a challenging activity he has tried only once: ski diving. His daughter and granddaughter want to try it, so he's game.