Joan Prymas - Personal Retirement Story
I retired from Herkimer County Community College at the end of the spring semester in 2004. I had begun teaching high school after earning my Master’s Degree in Mathematics from SUNY Albany but realized I really wanted to teach at a community college. After teaching for 31 years at HCCC and watching my valued friends retire, I thought I would try retirement. Also, my son was a high school sophomore and I wanted to see if we could increase his ﬁnancial aid package for college (That didn’t work). I continued to teach my favorite course for three semesters and even worked in a trip to Australia and New Zealand until my father was diagnosed with mesothelioma. I never went back to the classroom although I have tutored several high school students since then and I enjoy working with them.
My husband and I had shared child care during our son’s early years and were both able to continue working. After retirement I became involved with the local high school Music Boosters organization. Within a year I was co-treasurer of that group and I did the paperwork to get them federal and state tax-exempt status. In 2006 Peter Herron and I and a few other former union activists formed NYSUT Retiree Council 39. I was elected the ﬁrst treasurer and I am currently in my second three year term as such. We’ve lobbied at the state level for retiree issues. I also continue to lobby for community college issues with the HCCC Professional Association, our active union local. I recently became a new member of the SUNY Retirees Services Corps Advisory Council.
On a more personal note, every month a small group of retirees from HCCC get together for brunch at a local restaurant and talk about what we’ve been doing. I now have the time to do some of the traveling that I’ve always wanted to do. Last spring a friend and I took a Mediterranean cruise and visited Spain, Italy, Greece, Rhodes, Cyprus, Egypt, and Malta. Since my son started college, we’ve taken a January vacation every year to exotic and warm locations. Driving people to medical appointments and physical therapy take up some of my time. I’ve done plant and house-sitting for my snowbird friends and I’m ﬁnally catching up on some of the pleasure reading that I looked forward to for years. Overall, retirement is wonderful. I wonder when I ever had time to do just the mundane things when I was teaching. I try to stay healthy and active and have made many new friends by joining the local Curves.
I retired when I was 55 and I’m not sorry that I did. My husband is still not retired. I wish he were so we could do more traveling together. Retirement gives you a chance to spread your wings and try other things or just relax and enjoy family, friends, and neighbors.