SUNY Retiree Service Corps - Connecting with our retirees through service.
Rhoda Fischman

Rhoda Fischman - Personal Retirement Story

I retired from Westchester Community College in 1996 after 25 years as an administrative assistant to three deans (in succession) who were subsequently promoted to Vice President for Academic Affairs.  I loved my job and looked forward every day to going to work.  I attribute that to the fact that I was unquestionably lucky to have been employed in a wonderful atmosphere, with people I loved who treated me with the utmost respect.  So why, then, did I retire at that time?

My husband had retired from his business after 40 years and I continued to work at the college, and as you can understand, I started to wonder how many more wonderful years we would have together and in excellent health.

In addition, we had experienced a great tragedy with the death of our son from brain cancer in 1985 at the age of 35.  He had a six year old daughter and during his illness he asked us to keep in touch with her, which we assured him we would definitely do.  She is now 32 years old and we are always in very close touch with her.  She is a very important part of our lives and we have taken her with us on several vacations.  She is very devoted to us as we are to her.

We also have a wonderful daughter and son-in-law who adopted a beautiful child from China who is now 16 years old.  She was five months old when they brought her home and we absolutely adore her.  We are so lucky to have her and she is a very important part of our lives.

After the death of our son we decided to start a cancer support group, which we did with the help of a facilitator who worked in a local hospital as a cancer social worker.  She volunteered with our group for all 22 years it was in existence, and the group was disbanded only two years ago when several physicians started their own support groups in their offices.  But we are still in close touch with many of our participants and we have reunions at least once each year.

My husband and I both decided to volunteer to help those in need and to give something back in return for all the good years we have had together, despite our tragedy with the loss of our son.  We will be married 67 years in December and we have not had a day or regret for our decisions. 

My husband has received many accolades from White Plains Hospital, Westchester County, the State of New York (which named him Volunteer of the Year for 2010), and a proclamation from the Mayor of White Plains declaring December 18 as Lenny Fischman Day.

I have been volunteering at the Corporate Angel Network since my retirement in 1996.  We are a group of 40 volunteers and five paid employees who arrange flights for cancer patients on corporate jets to fly almost anywhere in the country for visits with their doctors for checkups, consultations, initial diagnoses, etc.  We have flown over 35,000 patients in the years since it has been in existence, and all our patients have been overwhelmed by their good fortune to be able to fly on such luxurious planes with wonderful pilots, and by the amazing corporate executives who treat them with utmost respect.  We have received thousands of letters thanking us for helping them get to their destinations at no charge and also because their immune systems are always compromised and they cannot fly safely on commercial planes.

I hope this explains why I gave up a wonderful position in order to spend the rest of my life with my amazing husband and our wonderful family.

Retirees Service Corps