At 89 years old, retirement is one of the few things that has not made it onto Robert E. Levinson’s vita.
Levinson almost single-handedly seems to be trying to start an anti-retirement movement. He feels so strongly that he once wrote a book titled, “The Anti-Retirement Book.”
“I just feel very strongly that one should never retire, or if they’re forced to retire they should try to find something productive to do,” he said.
Though not wealthy, Levinson is one of the lucky Americans. The long-time businessman and fund-raiser for a Florida college is college educated and said he is comfortable financially. But when he looks around his luxury senior community in Delray Beach, he sees pain and regret. Many residents seem idle. For example, a retired physician sits in the lobby waiting for people to drop by and consult him on their ailments.
“If you made a survey of all these guys who are retired, you would find that probably 75 percent would say to you , ‘I retired too soon,’ ” Levinson says.
On Tuesday, Squared Away profiled two older Americans who, after retiring, were pulled back into the work world by their desire to re-engage. But Levinson has simply blown past the traditional retirement age range chosen by most Americans—the 60s—and just keeps working.
He doesn’t really need the money he earns in a late-life career built on his varied interests. He’s just always been driven to work hard, and that did not change simply because he got older.
After college and a stint in the U.S. Navy in the mid-1940s, he and his brother ran an Ohio manufacturing company they eventually sold to American Standard. While continuing to work as a group vice president for the corporation, he bought one hotel in Pompano Beach—later, he built two more in southern Florida. He lost the hotels due to financing difficulties, he said. For the past 25 years, he’s been working as a development officer at Lynn University in Boca Raton. He’ll leave that job next spring.
That won’t slow him down. He plans to work more with his son at a consulting company he founded back in 1969, in addition to writing books, which have included “Full Circle, A Love Story,” about his relationship with Zelda Luxenberg, and the forthcoming “Management Savvy.”
Words of wisdom from a man who will turn 90 in March: Retirement “ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.”
Boston College Center for Retirement Research