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5 boomers who defined independence

Living life on their own terms

Retirement has done nothing to slow the Baby Boomers down. Quite the contrary. What Harriette, Yuval, Michael, Mike, and the Gawboys have in common is that upon their arrival at 50+, they did not settle down and relax with their memories and retirement accounts. They instead chose to engage in their lives and the world around them and start businesses, run endless miles, and inspire their neighbors. Even at 50 years or better, the Boomers are a force to be reckoned with. 

Keep the Feet Moving

Not only is Harriette Thompson a two-time cancer survivor, but this past June, she became the oldest woman to ever run and complete a marathon. What’s more, this 92-year-old didn’t even begin running until the ripe age of 76. After losing her husband at 67 to the same disease she had defeated twice, she has now run often enough to raise over $100,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Forget her finish time of over seven hours; she is a celebrity and an inspiration for her work ethic, passion, and continued fight to live her life and help countless others with her efforts.

A Sweet New Deal

Yuval Zaliouk was instrumental in reviving Israel's Haifa Symphony Orchestra in 1975 and worked in music his entire life. Upon his retirement from the Toledo Symphony in 1989, he didn't want to take another music gig and uproot his family, so he found a new dream. He became a baker with his grandmother's recipes in his home kitchen and started selling. A winner of an entrepreneur award, even he is surprised to call himself a businessman in his retirement years. But business is booming and he currently sells 12,000 cases of cookies a day all across the country.

Start Anew

Some Boomers like Michael Gates Gill didn't have a choice in embracing the next chapter of his life. At the time, Gates was a 63-year-old high-flying advertising executive, but it was 2009 and business was tight. He was let go and didn't know what to do next. He found his answer behind the counter at Starbucks. He joined the staff at his local shop and has since penned a New York Times bestseller, entitled, How Starbucks Saved My Life. For Gates, it was embracing this next chapter that made all the difference.

Give It Away

Some Boomers like Mike Carr choose to donate their time at the end of their 9-5 life. Since retiring as an accountant, Carr took his skills and put them to work helping low-income and military families in his town of Fort Wayne, Indiana with their tax returns. He also donates his time to his church group in addition to helping people with paperwork for food stamps and unemployment. Carr is a shining example of taking professional skills and using them to do good in retirement.

Create a New Family

Some retirees would rather golf and relax than raise another family of teenagers; not so for Rebecca and Jim Gawboy. They have taken their free time and adopted 12 children ranging in age from 8-19 in their 9-bedroom country home. They did it because they wanted to give back. And with their life and child-rearing experience, they are better equipped than ever to raise these children.

What these five have in common is simple: they are choosing to live their lives on their own terms. It is just proof-positive that there is not one kind of Boomer and uniqueness reigns supreme among this generation of Americans.