Theodore P. Wright Jr. - Personal Retirement Story
I retired in 1995 after a teaching career of 40 years, ten at Bates College and 30 at Albany in the Graduate School of Public Affairs. Although I had continued to teach for four years past the traditional retirement age of 65, a radical prostatectomy in 1994 and deteriorating hearing led me to call it quits. Besides, my wife, Dr. Susan Standfast, wanted to retire from the State Health Department and do a lot of foreign travel as her parents had, as well as pursuing a new career in music, playing recorder and dulcimer. We have been to some 48 countries, mostly on elderhostels.
Far from finding retirement traumatic, I found it a great relief to be freed from the burdens of grading and committee meetings so I could focus on my research on Indian Muslims. In that connection I have been very active in several professional organizations, helping to put together panels for conferences and pushing through papers to publication. Until this year, I have continued to participate in the biennial European conferences on Modern South Asian Studies as well as the monthly Columbia University Faculty seminar on South Asia.
During 17 years of retirement I have visited India and Pakistan half a dozen times to deliver papers, most recently this March in Islamabad and Lahore. On two of these I was accompanied by our son, an employee of the International Monetary Fund, and once by my wife.
In 2001, after falling from a ladder during house maintenance work, I agreed to sell our home in Latham of the previous 33 years and move to the Glen Eddy retirement community in Niskayuna which involved a painful "downsizing" of our possessions, but in compensation I got rid of snow shoveling, grass cutting, etc. The greatest adjustment will come when we have to give up driving which may come soon because of deteriorating eyesight.
My longtime genealogical research led me to become active even before retirement in a couple organizations celebrating the Dutch heritage of Albany. This has entailed two board memberships and a presidency in the Dutch Settlers Society of Albany and the New Netherland Institute. Like others in retirement I have enjoyed frequent contact with our three married children and six grandchildren, all living in the northeast.
Advice? Plan in advance. Don't put off retirement so you can enjoy it while still able. Get a good financial advisor. Keep up your hobbies. Cultivate your relatives near and far. Visit them and your professional agemates. Attend school and college reunions. Keep fit.