SUNY Retiree Service Corps - Connecting with our retirees through service.
August Mueller

August Mueller - Personal Retirement Story

retirement story

August Mueller and Young Bicycling Enthusiasts

 

Many of us have come to realize that one of the major objectives in life is to live longer and well; to be productive, content, healthy, and to enjoy each day to the fullest. Thankfully, many manage to do just that. Articles in the SUNY Retirees Newsletter give credence to this.  

I retired from Binghamton University in August 1998 after 36 years of service. The transition was no difficulty at all. I had an office on campus for about five years post-retirement. I remained quite active in the Binghamton Outdoor Pursuits (BOP) program (http://www2.binghamton.edu/campus-recreation/outdoor-pursuits/),leading cross-country ski trips, bicycle trips, hikes, white water rafting trips and more. I still attend seminars/talks at BU when topics pique my interest.

The secret to having a fulfilling retirement era often is having one or more passions. One of my passions is the bicycle. I recently celebrated my 80th year with 50 of my bicycling friends riding 50-plus miles in the Southern Tier of New York with a celebratory luncheon mid-trip. We call ourselves the W2M group, for Wheels to Meals, and we manage to do something similar to this feat twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday – weather permitting. The group consists mostly of older retirees and the average age is near 75. The numbers vary, but 20 or more participants is not uncommon with a typical bicycling distance of 20-50 miles.  

Several years ago a young person asked how long I had been bicycling.  My answer was "over 70 years."  Suitably impressed, his follow-up question was how far I had bicycled in those 70-plus years. This required some contemplative calculations with my answer being "at least a quarter-million miles." And still going. 

I bicycled 100 miles a few Sundays ago as I accompanied some overnight California- bound guests on a http://www.warmshowers.org/ sojourn from Binghamton to Ithaca before bicycling home. I had not planned this very pleasant day. It just happened. One of the many joys of retirement is a relaxed Sunday evening without the concerns of the coming work week. 

How do the retirement years differ from the working years? We seem to be as busy, but not as rushed.  We have the time to do many pleasant things we put off or were forced to limit during those years of employment; activities like travel, added personal enrichment, and increased involvement and volunteering in things that really matter to us.

I currently serve as the secretary to the Binghamton University Retiree Club, which meets for luncheons and programs monthly when the University is in session. Our programs often feature current faculty members as well as some of our member retirees. This coming year we have scheduled a session called "Volunteerism: What We Do in Retirement – A Collaborative Report."  I am hopeful our members will enlighten us on how they have found purpose and meaning in retirement. Many of us will have difficulty on what to feature as we are involved in multiple activities. 

I cite my own dilemma as an example. My wife Joan and I are volunteer ushers for the local Anderson Center for the Arts on the Binghamton Campus. Joan also keeps the books for the Broome County  Habitat for Humanity chapter, is the treasurer of her church, serves on the board of the local Mac Users Club (http://macstac.org/),and more.  I still interact with the Binghamton University BOP (Binghamton Outdoor Pursuits), a unit that I helped create and served as the co-director during my working years. 

About seven years ago I fielded a call from a local church social worker who was running a summer program and was wondering how the participants would get to the program site. She decided bicycles might be the answer and asked if she could get 100 old bicycles donated, could I head a program to refurbish them to give away to her program participants. Anticipating she might get 10 such machines, I agreed to her plan and was surprised when, two weeks later, she had 115 donated bicycles. Seven years later, about five of us are still doing the deed and have given more than 1,100 bicycles with no end in sight.  

Was this type of volunteer service something new to me? Not really, as I maintained 40-50 bicycles on the Binghamton campus which fit in well with serving as the Newing College Faculty Master for 16 years.  In my last year as master, I would let students take a bicycle with the requirement that they not return the bicycle. I am told some of those bicycles can still be seen in New York City and on the boardwalk of Atlantic City, NJ.  

What advice would I offer to SUNY employees who are about to retire? I would point out the danger of making the job your life. Some do and find themselves like a fish out of water when the job is no more. Their identity is/was the job and in its absence the only identify with who they had been – not who they are now. And that is a serious mistake. We all had days of better glory than the present. It’s easy to dwell on them rather than the present. After all, sweet memories are to be savored. BUT they should continually be added to as well. Age might slow you down, but it should not stop you.

While many move to climes they covet, staying in the area and connected to their employing institution has many rewards. Binghamton has done a great job on making their retirees feel welcome and appreciated. We are specifically invited to many events on campus. I still have and feel a strong connection to Binghamton University. Certainly one of the reasons I chose to remain in the area.

Many of us retirees just do more of what we did while working, but have more time to do it. A joyful thing! The fun continues… 

Retirees Service Corps