LSS Blog

Who’s the Boss? A Growing Number of Self-Employed Retirees, That’s Who!

Explorer_April2014_CoverStory_BlogPhoto1In his basement workshop, Ken Hinkle, 78, taps on the screen of his computer monitor. It is displaying his eBay homepage. His finger lands next to his seller rating: 100% positive after 3,000 transactions.

“Not bad for an old guy,” he says with a laugh.

A retired draftsman, Ken repairs and sells old film cameras — mostly Canon rangefinders. “I started selling on eBay in 2001,” he says. “I owned an old camera and I listed it, but I had no idea what the value of the camera was.”

When it sold for $519, Ken’s eyebrows went up. “I started buying more cameras for $30 to $60 a piece. I’d clean and service them, repair broken parts, and relist them for $125 to $225.” Some cameras he found he could sell for as high as $400.

Today, Ken is clearing five figures a year doing something he loves to do anyway — tinkering on machines in his workshop. “Sure, the extra money comes in handy, but that’s not why I started selling,” he says. “I had all day to do whatever I wanted in retirement and I felt like I needed something to do. I could work on cameras in the evenings on my own schedule.”

“I’m my own boss, and I can work whenever I want,” Ken says. “It just doesn’t get much better than that!”

Ken is hardly alone in feeling that way; tens of thousands of older adults are turning to self-employment, either after retirement or just before leaving the workforce. Recently the Health and Retirement Study announced findings that one in ten aging workers go into business for themselves before leaving the business world completely.

Explorer_April2014_CoverStory_BlogPhoto2Their motivations vary. Some do it to maintain a sense of purpose. Some do it to supplement their income — a fact that gives hope to economy watchers concerned about the effect an aging U.S. population will have on the financial system. And some are like Ken: they do it because it’s something they love to do.

Many people spend most of their lives pining for the day they get the proverbial gold watch. But for others, leaving the workforce can be bewildering. After 40 to 50 years of contributing to a field, it can be hard to just stop working. Some retirees can perceive this change as a loss of purpose or identity, and for them, finding happiness in retirement means finding new purposes and new identities.

If you or someone you know is in this boat, there are all kinds of ways to extend your working years on your terms. Start by looking at what you’re good at, and decide what you can do with those skills that you would enjoy doing. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Consulting. Did you work in a specialized field? Do you have skills or knowledge about your industry that could come in handy to people throughout the field? Consulting requires very little overhead and can often allow you to set your own hours. It might be worth your time to open your address book and call some old business associates to test the waters.

Reselling. You can follow Ken’s route and begin buying and selling items on the internet. While Ken puts work into fixing up old cameras, he also sells some goods as-is. By keeping an eye out for sales at local retailers and online outlets, he comes out with a pretty healthy sales margin just by buying low and selling high.

Creating. Got an artistic streak? Like to work with your hands? Interested in photography? There are all kinds of resources on the internet to sell handicrafts, paintings, photos, and more. Painters, check out Crafters, try Photographers, visit And branch out from there.

Learning. Want to get back in the workforce but worried about a rusty skillset? Many universities and community colleges offer a la carte classes, and some of them even cater directly to seniors looking to get back into the work force. And the web is booming with online classes — many of them free — on a whole host of useful topics. For example, is a great place to start when brushing up your computing skills.

Volunteering. And while you’re working on building your new career, why not volunteer some of your time and talents to organizations near and dear to your heart? Churches, charities, care centers, and local schools are just a few places that can always use an extra pair of hands.


If you’re thinking about your future plans, Lutheran Senior Services communities are great places to start. Offering independent living apartments and patio homes, our warm, welcoming campuses offer easy access to assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing should your needs change. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

Eagle-Eyed Birdwatchers: Breeze Park Visits the Audubon Center

The Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, Missouri, is the only way to go birdwatching on days when the river’s frozen over — and that’s just what the residents of Breeze Park did recently. Click below to see photos from their visit.

Breeze Park Eagle Sanctuary

 Breeze Park Eagle Sanctuary
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Breeze Park Eagle Sanctuary


We’d love to hear from you! Located in St. Charles, MO 63304, Breeze Park senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, memory care assisted living, and skilled nursing.  For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

Dick Schrick: One of the Lucky Ones

Explorer_April2014_MB_Inteview_01Dick Schrick was one of the lucky ones in World War 2.

“I knew I was going to be pulled in for service, so I decided to enlist in the Air Force,” he says. “My group was assigned to flying planes back and forth to Australia. But the group who went in just before me got sent to England.” He missed being sent into the thick of combat by just a few days.

Tasked with transporting new C-47s from San Francisco to Brisbane, Dick was blessed to have a relatively safe assignment, in as much as any assignment during the war could be called safe. “They said our group was ATC. ‘Allergic to Combat’,” he says with a laugh. “And that was fine. The war wasn’t really my cup of tea.”

“After I was in for a while, Hitler decided to retire,” Dick says. “So when he retired, I retired too.” At that point, he went back to work for the Wabash Railroad, and followed up that stint with a 25-year run with Monsanto in St. Louis. Today, at 94, Dick has been retired longer than he spent in the work force. And that’s something else that’s just fine with Dick.

“I used to like numbers. I did income tax for people,” Dick says, “and I’ve played an awful lot of cards.” Now that he lives at Meramec Bluffs, he can be found applying those numerical skills on his opponents in his weekly bridge club.

“At 94 years old, I’ve been very, very lucky as far as health goes,” Dick says. “I get around pretty good, and I have a good time with my bridge partners. This place feels too good to be true, really!”

While Dick has seen and done a lot in his 94 years, he feels his greatest accomplishment has been his children. “I have a son who’s a doctor in Town and Country. My daughter is a schoolteacher in Texas. I have a grandson who’s a physician in Texas, another one who graduated from the Air Force Academy, and a third one in broadcasting. It’s a great feeling knowing I contributed something to the next generations. It’s because of them that I really feel lucky.”


We’d love to hear from you! Located in Ballwin, Missouri 63021, Meramec Bluffs senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, memory care assisted living, and skilled nursing. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.


Around the World and Back Again with the Guthries of Concordia Village

DSC_4270“When Owen first retired,” Coralie Guthrie says, “we did a lot of traveling.” Coralie seems to have a gift for understatement — together, the Guthries saw all 50 states, at least six Canadian provinces, and Mexico, as well as Western Europe and East Asia.

Just before retiring, Owen had received some hard news. “The doctor told me my vision was deteriorating,” Owen says. “It gave me an incentive to see what I could when I could.” As a result, the couple booked passage on a number of travel tours and ended up spending two full weeks in Japan.

“We’re relatively conservative, normally,” Owen says, “but this was something we wanted to do.”

Now safely back stateside, the Guthries have settled in to life at Concordia Village. “We have no children,” Coralie says, “so we decided we better make plans for the future.” For Owen and Coralie, it was the community’s access to health care that was the big draw for them. “We didn’t want to move anymore after this, so Concordia seemed like a perfect fit.”

A retired teacher, Coralie has gotten involved with the community’s crocheting group, while Owen has become a regular with the Men’s Discussion Group. Both hit the fitness room three times a week, and they attend chapel services together regularly.

“It’s been very convenient for us,” Coralie says. “Concordia Village was a good move for us.”


We’d love to hear from you! Located in Springfield, IL 62711, Concordia Village senior living offers independent living, REACH Short Stay Rehabilitation, assisted living, and skilled nursing. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

Life in the Future: Need the Internet? Open the Fridge!

rfid-consumer-productsHow many things do you have that connect to the Internet? Your computer? Your phone? Your TV?

What about your refrigerator? What about the FOOD inside your refrigerator? Welcome to what the tech industry refers to as “The Internet of Things” — a system which helps you organize and operate your possessions.

Already, you can purchase all kinds of devices that you can operate using a computer or smart phone from anywhere in the world, including home thermostats, door locks, car alarms, and even washing machines.

But the “Internet of Things” goes a step further, bringing even non-mechanical objects online. The technology behind this is called the RFID tag. (RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification.) These tags emit short-range radio waves that can be picked up by certain devices. If you’ve ever purchased a book with a thin plastic slip sporting a spiral-looking design inserted between the pages, you’ve already seen an RFID tag.

Those tags can help librarians, booksellers, or even consumers keep inventory on their libraries just by scanning a shelf with a special RFID reader. And that’s just one application. For instance, RFID tags on food packaging could someday communicate with a “smart” refrigerator to let you know via email when a particular item is past its freshness date.

The Internet of Things is just getting started, but the range of RFID-enabled devices is already pretty impressive … while some of it is pretty silly. For example: how about diapers that text you when your baby has wet herself, or a toothbrush that lets you know when Junior hasn’t been brushing?


If you’re thinking about your future plans, Lutheran Senior Services communities are great places to start. Offering independent living apartments and patio homes, our warm, welcoming campuses offer easy access to assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing should your needs change. For more information or to arrange a visit, click here.

Stacking the Deck: Jeanne Fills Her Hand with New Friends Around the Bridge Table

HB_Explorer_Jan2014_Story1_BlogHeisinger Bluffs is known for many things in Jefferson City: their amazing view of the Missouri River, their easy access to shopping and restaurants, their thriving artists community…but there’s been one important piece missing from this senior living community.

That missing piece was bridge. Fortunately, Jeanne Edwards came along when she did.

“I came to Jefferson City from Mumford, Tennessee,” Jeanne says. “It’s a small town, and everyone in town played bridge. It was great. So I decided to bring a little Mumford to Jeff City.” read more…

The Great Indoors: Outdoorsman Finding a Home-Away-From-Deer-Stand at LHV

LHV_Explorer_Jan2014_Story1_BlogBill Roger first picked up a deer rifle when he was 10 years old. Now 89 years old, he bagged a wild boar in Florida last April, a buck in Illinois in November, and he’s planning further trips for the new year.

“I’ve always been an outdoorsman,” Bill says. “I hunt deer, doves, ducks, and geese. I go fly fishing. Plus, I love nature photography. If it’s outdoors, I’m there.”

Well-known in his native Chillicothe, Bill worked at the People’s Savings and Loan there for 35 years, eventually serving as president. But when he wasn’t serving customers, he was following his first love, which has taken him all over the continent, from Canada to Mexico and all points in between. read more…

Queen of the Quilting Bee: Jane Sepanski Finishes Her Masterpiece at Meridian Village

MV_Explorer_Jan2014_Story1_BlogThere are quilters, and then there are quilters. And Jane Sepanski is definitely in the second category.

When you walk into Jane’s apartment at Meridian Village, the first thing you see is Max, a talking white-eyed conure parrot, who, Jane says, is a huge Cardinals baseball fan. (“When Mark McGwire would homer, Max would hear the fireworks and run around his cage saying, ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’” Jane laughs.)

But if you turn a corner, the next thing you’ll see is an entire room filled with quilting equipment, including a huge shelving unit piled floor-to-ceiling with a rainbow of different fabrics. It’s here that Jane mans her sewing machine to ply her trade. read more…

Valentine Sweethearts:The Duncans Celebrate 66 Years of Marriage Today

DSC_2185-FINAL-WebMarried on Valentine’s Day 1948, high school sweethearts Bill and Betty Duncan are celebrating an astonishing 66 years of marriage today!

Having met at Fairview High School, the couple tied the knot just after Bill returned from service in Japan — which is quite a story all on its own. “I had broken my back in a parachute jump,” Bill says. “They sent me back to the states. I was in a hospital in Denver for a while, and when they sent me home, my first stop off the bus was Betty’s house.”

The past sixty-six years has yielded many more adventures for the Duncans. Bill and Betty traveled to the Holy Land, where Bill served as an administrator for a hospital in Bethlehem. They’ve traveled throughout the country and around the world together, and found time to raise three children along the way.

Today, Bill and Betty make their home at Lutheran Senior Services’ Hidden Lake community in St. Louis, Missouri. There, they’re happy to offer advice to young couples on how to make their marriage last. “Be sure you love the one you marry in the first place,” Bill says.

“And stick together,” Betty says, holding hands with her high school sweetheart.

When asked what the best part of their time together has been, Betty replies, without hesitation, “Right now.”

She smiles. “It always is.”

For reminding us that love has no age, Lutheran Senior Services is proud to declare the Duncans our 2014 Valentine Sweethearts. Congratulations, Bill and Betty!

“It Works for Us!” Al’s in Independent, Marilyn’s in Assisted Living, and They’re Doing Great

MB_Explorer_Jan2014_Story1_BlogEvery day, Al Hart wakes up, takes his dogs Oscar and Scamp for their morning constitutional, and goes to visit his wife Marilyn in her apartment.

Al lives in Meramec Bluffs’ independent living apartments. Marilyn, who needs additional care due to health complications, lives in the community’s assisted living wing. And the arrangement is working out just great for the couple.

“We’re working well like this,” Al says. “I’m over in assisted living quite a bit. They all know me over there. I’m one of the gang.”

A former manager and salesman at Sears, Al retired recently to help Marilyn after she had a stroke that left her in need of extra assistance. He was serving as her caregiver at home but the situation wasn’t working out. “Her kids pulled us aside and we talked it out,” he said. “They told me, ‘You need to do something else. For her health and for your well-being.’ And they were right.” read more…