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Together they " actively researched
and engaged in retirement planning
which included finances, insurance,
legal documents such as wills, power
of attorneys [POAs] and Advanced
Directives, " says Ellen.
" It has not been a challenge although
the two years of retirement have been
completely during the pandemic and
so it is not really a normal retirement
situation, " admits Ellen. " We only
recently have thought about doing things
such as travel and are still restricted
to the school year calendar for travel
[because of Steve's job] and
that is a bit frustrating. "
Personal space " has not
been an issue. We have
always both engaged in some
activities without each other. "
Ellen's " whole retirement
has been during the pandemic
and so our activities were
very restricted, " she says. " We
walked, hiked, read, started a
small garden, worked on longoverdue
house projects, yard
work, more outside meals
with neighbors and friends
and watched more TV than
we ever have in our lives. The
TV-watching was due to the
pandemic and not retirement.
" We also spent time
researching the issues
related to the pandemic and
retirement. Ellen has had
more time to help our adult
children with what is going
on in their lives. " It has been
a busy time, despite COVID
and may well get busier when Steve joins
Ellen in retirement.
When nurse Annie Johnston and
her physician husband Daniel began
looking for a place to retire, they had a
dilemma. They lived in the Virgin Islands,
which many consider paradise, but they
wanted to get away from too-frequent
They settled on the Glenvar area of
Roanoke County, buying a house that
was built in 1776, one of the oldest
in the Roanoke Valley, but in superb
condition. Their instruction to their real
estate agent was to " find something built
36 / / RETIRE-VA 2023
before 1940, " says Daniel, grinning at the
They left " a low stress family medical
practice where we worked 10 a.m.-5
p.m. every day, " says Daniel. Annie ran
the practice in St. Croix and supported
Daniel through medical school in France.
" We both, together, make all decisions. "
Both are 71 now.
What they have found in the Roanoke
Valley is not completely what they
expected: considerably hotter, more
expensive, more politically conservative
and a slightly less welcoming attitude
Jean Woods and John
Doyle: " Since I still work,
I do not have enough
time for everything I
want to do. Since John
takes care of everything,
he is overly busy. "
They left the Virgin Islands, says
Annie, " because of the hurricanes. A lot
of people retire away from the islands
because of the hurricanes. " Their goals
have been to " get a foothold here and
to travel, maybe the American west and
France, " says Daniel.
Jean Woods, 74, and John Doyle 73,
are not married, but they have been
partners for nine years. He was retired
when they met. She has made an
attempt to retire three different times.
John left his video business and Jean
remains a technology project manager,
working 32 hours a week at
Virginia Tech.
" John does everything
at home and even makes
my lunch each day, " says
Jean. " John does all the
housework, takes care of the
rescue foster dogs and our
dogs (12 currently), takes
dogs to vet, does grocery
shopping, does laundry,
washes floors, uses the
tractor on the farm and fixes
the driveway, maintains
bird houses and a trail,
volunteers at Angels of Assisi
(six hours per week), works
at The Perfect Gift Shop and
maintains our house and
buildings. " John is busy.
" Since I still work, " Jean
continues, " I do not have
enough time for everything
I want to do. John is overly
busy. "
Income levels have
remained the same for the
than they would have preferred. On the
flip side has been the wonderful house
(on which Daniel spends a great deal
of time), natural beauty and plenty of
antique shops and estate sales for Daniel
to haunt. He also has a completely
restored-and quite beautiful-1939
Annie admits that moving to the
Valley at the beginning of COVID had a
dampening effect on their goals, but as
the society is opening up again, says
Daniel. " We are doing what we always
did. I am a tinkerer, so work on the house
and grounds has been fulfilling. "
couple. " There's not a large difference
in income with me still working, " says
Jean. " We both saved for retirement and
do OK. We have a pension, 401k, Social
Security and some savings. "
For Jean, it's all very simple: " I love
the work I do so why retire? They pay
me to learn and have fun with new
technology. The money I make is used
for donations and extras. Our vet and
dog bills are $25k per year. If fully retired
that would be a hard budget hit. "
There are a lot of ways to approach
this retirement gig, many of them quite
satisfying. I

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