Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Del Lowery


     The fourth child in a family of five, I was a pretty good student, average athlete, and a dreamer. The first part of my life was lived in a small town in Iowa . I was kicked out of church, quit the football team my junior year and moved my senior year. Within months of graduation I left home with three classmates and drove to the West Coast. My mother was left in tears as I abandoned my college dreams.

     By September I realized my mistake and returned home to attend college. Many jobs followed: gas jockey, factory worker at  John Deere’s, farm hand, furniture store grunt, canning factory laborer, swimming pool manager, etc. I graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in l965 and within three months married Brenda, a girl from my home town (that was 41 years ago – smartest move I ever made).
   I taught social studies and coached. Brenda finished work on her degree and gave birth to our first child, Dan. I also organized and directed the first Head Start Program in Buchanan County, Iowa. My education in poverty, civil liberties and inequitable economic distribution deepened. The Vietnam and civil rights protests combined with and seeming antipathy about education filled me with unrest. We pulled up stakes and drove west and north. No job, no money and no plan.
     We stopped in Anchorage , Alaska and found  jobs teaching school. I taught there for 19 years - mainly philosophy and history. Our daughter (Suzanne) was born in December of ’68.  My interest in reading flourished. I picked up a Masters degree, learned to appreciate the academic world, and coached cross-country skiing.  I became a very active founding member of Amnesty International in Anchorage .

     During this time we hiked and skied much of Alaska . We were outside almost every day. It was an exciting place to be. We traveled every summer. Our family bicycled in Europe . I darted hyenas on the Serengeti Plain in Africa, studied with a swami in Katmandu , studied moral development at Harvard, and music and literature in Aspen .

     In 1987 the School District in Anchorage encouraged us “older” teachers to take early retirement.  I was 44 and Brenda was 41. We volunteered. Although we loved Alaska , our children challenged us to move on: “There is a big world out there…”  The following year we moved to Bellingham , Washington where we still live half the year. The other half we live in Vancouver , B.C.

     Since retiring I have studied and played the classical guitar religiously, exercised consistently, and worked on community projects: I taught Human Rights Education at Western Washington University, worked on Greenways, Parks and Trail Development, coordinated the local Amnesty International Chapter, helped start the local Farmers Market, hosted a radio interview program, helped organize and develop the Northwest Classical Guitar Society, managed two political campaigns, ran for mayor (unsuccessfully), learned to build fine furniture, and tried to keep up with the high tech world. This retirement podcast is my latest effort to combine my interest in broadcasting, technology, and the community.

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