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Gerardo Weinstein continues working beyond retirem Gerardo Weinstein lives at The Legacy Willow Bend retirement community in Plano but does not plan to "retire" any time soon.

During the past decade, the average retirement age in the United States has been climbing. Recent poll results found that the average age is 62, but working Americans currently do not plan to stop there; surveys show that most expect to retire around age 66. Two men at The Legacy Willow Bend, Plano’s true life care retirement community, are among those defying stereotypes about seniors in retirement by continuing to hold successful jobs well past the average retirement age. Gerardo Weinstein, 90, founded his own real estate company 35 years ago and has been working in various roles in more than one industry for a total of 75 years. Tom Jones, 69, is the regional sales and marketing manager for Curtis Steel Company and has led a successful career in the steel industry for 50 years. Both consider themselves to be fortunate since they are in good health and truly love what they do professionally. Neither one has plans to stop working anytime soon.

“Age is really just a matter of the mind,” said Weinstein. “I don’t think I originally anticipated continuing to work for 75 years or more, but we all are living healthier lives and therefore living longer. Thanks to the unimaginable progress in the medical profession and advances in technology, we all now know how to live well and age well. Since I’m still healthy and able, I’m still working and doing what I like to do.”

Weinstein goes to his office just a couple of miles from The Legacy Willow Bend community during the weekdays to maintain a more leisurely work schedule starting around 10 a.m., taking a long lunch and getting home around 4 p.m. His daughter helps handle the finances as the real estate investment corporation’s CPA, but Weinstein still runs the company. He keeps up with changes in the market and looks at new properties for potential acquisitions while evaluating the impact of those purchases.

While Weinstein is a successful real estate businessman, he started in a much different field. He spent the first nine years of his life in Germany and the next seventeen years in Lima, Peru. As a 15-year-old, he began working in 1939 as an apprentice in the cotton business in Lima. In 1949, he transferred to a cotton merchandising firm in Holland, visiting European spinners with the purpose of selling several varieties of cotton. In 1951, an American cotton firm by the name of Schwabach & Company offered him a position as the head agent to connect with Mexican, Central American and South American cotton firms. He accepted the offer, which required him to move to Dallas. He met his wife in Peru in 1951, and they were married in Dallas the following year. In 1954, Weinstein was given the opportunity to become a partner in Schwabach & Company. The firm successfully stayed in the cotton merchandising business until 1980 when the business became too speculative as a result of government subsidies, and in anticipation of eventually getting out of the cotton business, the company decided to go into the commercial real estate business, acquiring shopping centers and office buildings with over 120 tenants.

“Working keeps me staying active mentally just like I stay active physically by doing exercises every morning,” said Weinstein. “It’s challenging and fulfilling, and to an extent, it’s about having that sense of accomplishment to feed your ego.”

Weinstein admits he has slowed down his activities recently, but he still loves going to the office and being able to come home to his wife of 62 years at the end of the day. He is not alone in his desire to go into the office, his neighbor, Tom Jones, feels the same way. 

“If a person is fortunate enough to enjoy what they’re doing and is happy to do it every day, then I encourage that person to keep doing it,” said Jones. “As for me, my employer told me that I had a job with the company as long as I want it, so it’s like a Supreme Court appointment – a life tenure you could say. I’ve enjoyed doing what I do for so long and genuinely like it, so I don’t see an end to working at this point.”

About 20 percent of the work Jones does is from his home office at The Legacy Willow Bend. The rest involves visiting with clients onsite about the metal products he sells for the company. He is responsible for generating sales to meet the company’s goals and achieve sales targets, developing marketing plans and strategies and ensuring customer loyalty and satisfaction. Over the years, Jones has been promoted numerous times and worked in multiple roles in the steel industry. He also tried to retire multiple times. Jones started at a steel mill in southern Illinois just out of high school as an hourly steelworker for about two years. He then applied for an office salaried position and was given the opportunity to work in the sales department. After six months, he was promoted to the role of Inside Salesman in the company’s Dallas District Sales office and moved to Texas.

During that time, Jones decided to continue his education and earned a degree in marketing from Southern Methodist University while working during the day and taking classes at night. Immediately after receiving his degree, he was promoted to Outside Salesman in the Dallas District office handling clients until he later advanced into the role of Senior Sales Representative in the Kansas City Sales office where he relocated and managed clients across multiple states. Eventually, Jones was promoted to Manager of Galvanized and Coated Steel Products at one of the company’s four steel mills and moved to West Virginia where he met his wife. That company became an ESOP (employee stock ownership program), and when given the chance to be transferred by the parent company to another plant in Detroit or take the new ESOP company’s offer of being Dallas District Sales Manager, he chose to move back to Dallas in that position with his wife.  

Nine years later, Jones took advantage of an enhanced early retirement offer based on 31 years of total service but was hired right back as a consultant the very next day with the same company. After several months and completing that mission, he attempted to retire again but was offered (and accepted) a job as Dallas District sales manager with a steel distributor in Houston who had been a former customer. Jones worked in that role for five years and then accepted the position of General Manager of the Grand Prairie plant, one of their larger competitors and was promoted to his current position regional manager of sales and marketing with them after nine years.

“Continuing to work is enjoyable for me,” said Jones. “It remains to be a very positive experience, and it provides opportunities to meet new people, stay active and socially engaged and also keeps me informed and enthusiastic about life.”

When he is not selling the ever-increasing number of new products to an ever-increasing number of clients, Jones spends every Saturday volunteering at Minnie’s Food Pantry in Plano. The organization provides groceries to those who cannot afford to feed their families. He is the greeter and door attendant and also serves as the translator for the group. Since he speaks Spanish and English, Jones translates the necessary paperwork for Spanish speaking recipients and makes sure they get what they need. He finds both his job and the service he provides through this volunteerism rewarding.

As the saying goes, “If you have a job doing what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” These two men at The Legacy Willow Bendcertainly have found that to be true.

“It is inspiring to see residents like Tom Jones and Gerardo Weinstein continuing to live such active lifestyles and contributing to the community at large during their retirement years here at The Legacy Willow Bend,” said Marilyn Israel, executive director of The Legacy Willow Bend. “Their motivation to keep working and enjoy what they love is a refreshing reminder that we don’t have to give up doing what we like as we age. Retirement simply is not for everyone, and we’re just happy to help accommodate them and their busy schedules when they come home from work.”

The Legacy Willow Bend, Plano’s first and only life care retirement community, is situated on a 28-acre site at Spring Creek Parkway between Preston Road and Ohio Drive. The Legacy Willow Bend offers resort-style services and amenities for active, independent seniors, as well as all levels of health care services on-site. The community features 103 independent living apartment homes, 12 custom independent living villas, 40 assisted living apartment homes, 18 memory support suites, and 60 private skilled healthcare suites.

The Legacy Willow Bend is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit retirement community owned by parent company, The Legacy Senior Communities, Inc. The Legacy Willow Bend, the only Jewish-sponsored life care retirement community in Texas, is open to people of all faiths.  For information, call (972) 468-6208, or visit www.thelegacyWB.org