Readers are still responding to an earlier column about whether people plan to keep working or hit the beach upon reaching retirement age.

Many of these comments are insightful and instructive, so I thought I'd share a few more.

Betty Jean sent me a letter to say she is 79 and in her 22nd year as a receptionist in a chiropractic office following 21 years as a school secretary.

"I still like to keep busy and 'stay in the game,"' she wrote. "I don't need the income, so I did cut down to part-time 10 years ago, so I still have time for family and can travel on paid vacation time, and (do) hobbies.

"I have considered totally retiring, but if I changed my mind, who would hire a nearly 80-year-old for office work?"

You make some good points, Betty Jean. But based on your work ethic, I doubt you would have trouble finding a job!

Charles, meanwhile, wrote that he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1950. He was promoted often and retired after 20 years, at age 39.

"Still too young to stop working, so decided to find another job, again working towards retirement," he wrote. "Ended up working for the United States Postal Service. Served in this job for 23 years for my second retirement."

After hitting 65, Charles got a job as a warehouse manager. The pay was low, he wrote, but he enjoyed going to work every morning. He was "let go" when the company's profits took a turn for the worse, but he still wanted to work.

"Most of the jobs I applied for required being on my feet all day, (which) was out of the question," he wrote. "Now, at the age of 76, the urge to work has (subsided) due to back surgery over two years ago. During my lifetime I have spent many hours working as a volunteer interested in working, talking and helping people."

Charles wrote that he thinks many young people today will not have the options he had.

"The way things are today, I see many individuals are accepting any jobs which, to the end, will provide very low earnings with just enough to provide those essential needs," he wrote. "These individuals cannot look to any means of retirement."

That is a concern, Charles, for many of us.

A reader named David had a different take on the retirement question. The subject is complicated for him, he wrote, because he is a physician. He retired two years ago at the age of 63, after 36 years in practice.

"I have let my license expire, have given no thought to continuing any medically related endeavor and stay busy for 16 hours a day with all the things that I put off for the last 40 years," he wrote. "In my field, whether I were to practice for two hours a day or 20, the constant studying and learning necessary to stay current and competent would be the same, and it is not practical to spend two or three hours every day reading and studying to remain at the top of my game if I am not working full-time."

David wrote that he probably did 70 years' worth of work during his 36 years on the job.

"There are many things that hold my interest (and) provide avenues for self-fulfillment and staying active," he wrote. "On a personal level, I spend many hours a day on genealogical research and regularly ride our bicycles through the countryside. On a community level, I have become involved with volunteer service and administration with arts and other community organizations."

He said he now travels regularly, spends time with family, reads and studies other subjects (I'm jealous!), attends concerts and gets up "when the sun comes in through the window." And then he gets to what I believe is the crux of this issue.

"For too many people, their identity and self-esteem is tied to their job, and they cannot walk away from it," he wrote. "For others, retirement is a time and opportunity to explore other things and to rediscover that there are other things in life besides our profession."

I am far from retirement age, but I can relate to what David is saying.

I believe people should give 100 percent to their employers while on the job, but I don't want my identity to be based on what I do at the office. I would much rather be known by my family and others as a good husband, father and person than as a good editor or writer.

I know it's tough to achieve that balance, but I hope I can get there before I retire. If I ever do!

Since my retirement definitely won't come anytime soon, please keep your comments and financial questions coming. Send them to [email protected] or to the Deseret Morning News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110.


E-mail: [email protected]