For You, What Is the Best Part About Retirement

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run”
(From The Gambler by Kenny Rogers)

We were curious about what our NACTT Emeritus Trustees have been doing in retirement. How have they been spending their time since making the decision to retire and moving on from the daily challenges as a Chapter 13 Trustee. Here are their replies to our inquiry:

Isabel Balboa

I approached retirement with some caution. After living in New Jersey for 35 years, 26 of them in Cherry Hill, the idea of packing up, discarding many things I considered precious and moving to Florida seemed overwhelming.  

I started the process early enough (I gave 6 months’ notice to the UST, met with Mike Joseph and others) so I was able to map out my steps carefully. I checked out where I wanted to live and purchased my home one year before retirement. I started purging my office first, then my home. I hired a realtor, who shared the essentials for putting the house up for sale. I retained a moving company which told me what to discard and felt confident with the process. 

Despite all preparations, when the house sold and the movers came, I plunged into a new environment, prepared to discover new neighborhoods, make new friends, find new shopping places, a home church and live! The journey has been fun and exciting. I have met transplants like me from many different states all motivated to make new friends and relations. I have had the luxury of time to set up my home to my liking and make it a welcoming place for family and friends.  

Although I loved my chosen profession, my staff, the court, judges, their staff, and the camaraderie of my colleagues I deferred many activities and interests because of my employment and professional commitments. I find retirement to be liberating.  Like Bill Miller, I have the freedom to do many of the things that I wanted to do but could not because of time constraints. I have been down to Miami several times to be with family and friends. They have come up as well. I joined a French club, and I am taking French classes. I have planned a trip to Europe in November and have house guests coming for visits in the spring. I have also found time to fill my soul, worshiping and volunteering.  

Time passes quickly here. There are plentiful choices of activities both physical and mental. The weather affords me the luxury of long walks, a swim almost any time of the year and lectures, theater, and music to stimulate my mind. I now have abundantly more than I sought while I was contemplating retirement. I look forward to the days that have been set out for me in this place. The journey continues.

Robert Wilson

“Retirement” for me has taken me back to the practice of law. Another lawyer and I own a building in downtown Lubbock where we practice with four other lawyers. My practice is mainly estate planning and probate with some bankruptcy which I do pro bono and have done several chapter 7s for folks who can’t afford to pay. They are referred by a local legal aid group.

I am also on the local appraisal review board which meets full time from May through July and intermittent during the year. We decide how much property is worth and how much the owner gets to pay in ad valorum taxes. Not always pleasant but it is a civic duty.

Not all my time has been working. My wife and I did take a river cruise down the Rhein in October and took my grandkids on a Christmas cruise down to Mexico. (Something I said I would never do.) The only vacations I ever took before retirement were the NACTT meetings.

I had five divisions at the trustee’s office when I left, and I miss the constant hearings. In hindsight I probably quit a little early but that is another story.

Bill Miller

My excuse- enjoying retirement!

Here’s a sampling of my retirement reactions and activities, not necessarily in any order:

1. No alarm in the morning. I’ve learned that my natural circadian rhythm results in about 8 hours of sleep daily, much more than I obtained during my work career. 

2. Spending time with grandchildren. This includes watching little ones on certain weekdays, walking older ones to school, attending various games and birthdays, and helping with (constant) emergencies. 

3. Pursuing numerous physical activities, including golf, skiing (for which I DO set an alarm), tennis, platform tennis, biking, Padel, pickleball, the gym, and walks in the woods or neighborhood. So far, my titanium hip is holding up nicely. 

4. Reacquainting myself with prior pursuits, i.e. playing the saxophone patiently waiting in my attic for 50 years. 

5. Traveling to visit family abroad and to see other places of interest, which helps to amortize the $100 spent for Global Entry. 

6. Attending appointments with an increasing number of doctors/specialists. 

7.  Subject to the foregoing, doing whatever I want whenever I want. 

It’s all good. 

Herb Beskin

I treasured my time as a Trustee and feel very fortunate to have had the chance to end my legal career in that position. It was my favorite job by a significant margin. I postponed retiring for fear I would be too at-loose-ends once I left. While I really miss my comrades in Chapter 13 Land, I have been surprised at how quickly—and how completely—I have been able to let go of my Trusteeship and my role in it.

For me, the best parts (plural) about retirement are:  being able to stay in bed on weekdays beyond 6:15 am—sometimes well beyond….not having to work extra nights and weekends before–and after–taking a vacation… being able to take longer-than-one-week vacations…not having to make multiple decisions every day about claims, cases, attorneys, debtors, dismissals, confirmation, dockets, pleadings, etc., and wonder if I made the right call…. going for a spur-of-the-moment hike or lunch with my wife… spending my time on projects and activities that I have chosen, rather than on those I have to do … trying some new things that I didn’t have time to investigate while working full-time… reading about developments in bankruptcy law with interest but knowing I have no responsibility to implement the changes they will require…. feeling that I stewarded my Trusteeship for two decades without messing up too badly and handed it off to a highly qualified and caring successor…. knowing I never have to face another day of six-plus hours of 341 meetings… discovering that an occasional nap is not, in fact, an evil or sinful thing… being able to help my hard-working wife with some of the minor housework (I’m not yet trusted with the important stuff)… being able to give back to my community in some new ways… reading the morning paper for an hour if I choose…and being able to play music more often.

Nancy Grigsby

I am really enjoying retirement for many of the same reasons as the others here. Having flexibility to travel and spend time with my family has been wonderful. I’m spending time helping care for grandchildren, finishing scrapbooks for my children, sewing and quilting, gardening, and reading. I’ve also spent time expanding my cooking skills (which can turn out interesting). 

Although working as a chapter 13 Trustee was gratifying work, retirement has been gratifying as well. 

Jan Hamilton

I most enjoy being able to do whatever I want whenever I want.

I’ve been able to spend some quality time with my brother. I really enjoy being with my dogs more.  Sitting in my sunroom with dogs at my feet and coffee at the ready, is something precious.

I’m no longer bound by the confines of someone else’s schedule. 

My partner in crime, Barbara and I have been able to do some traveling and it is not the same when work is not on my mind. My headspace is no longer so cluttered that I cannot enjoy reading for pleasure. 

And shopping has taken on a new meaning. I no longer just grab stuff off the shelves.

I’ve been able to do some cooking. Nothing elaborate but soul satisfying. 

Going to bed whenever I want and getting up whenever I want is a new experience. For many years I was sleep deprived. No longer.  

I’ve spent less time with my grandkids than I thought I would which is okay. They certainly have a lot of energy. And it is okay for me to just do nothing. 

There is a difference between being lonely and being alone. I spend a lot of time being the latter.

Jan Johnson

The first five years as a trustee were also the last five years in the Air National Guard. When I retired from the Air Guard after 31 years, I really missed my brothers and sisters in arms. We still maintain contact and meet occasionally on a social basis, fortunately not at 0400 hours any more. The flying and the camaraderie were the two things that I missed the most.

Thirty years as a trustee provided an amazing opportunity to help others and serve as a diplomat between the debtors, their attorneys, creditors and their attorneys, the Clerk’s office, and the bench, and of course the US Trustee. After four years of retirement, I really love not having to set the alarm clock every night. I still dream Chapter 13 dreams on occasion, but they are less now. I still enjoy reading about Chapter 13 and trustee developments, as well as social meetings with the Bankruptcy Bar and an infrequent lunch with one of my favorite judges.

The best part of retirement for me has been family, sharing the things we love with my wife, visiting daughters and grandchildren. The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”. I am now living that time when family is the most important thing, and time is my most precious resource. Someone else mentioned community work, and I really enjoy giving back to mine in ways that I could never do before.

I really miss flying fighter jets, and I really miss the complexity and joy of doing my best for my bankruptcy community, but now it’s time to move on.

Michael Joseph

For me, it is freedom. The sense that for the most part, I do not have to be anywhere every day at a particular time. I have the freedom to travel with my wife, to plan trips to see my kids and grandkids who live far away, and when they come home, to be with them each day. I have more time to focus on other activities that I enjoy such as horseback riding and hiking. It is a welcome change from the day-to-day stress of managing a chapter 13 trustee office. Also, I now have more time to devote to writing, for and for law journals. I have kept active with the Emeritus Trustees and it is a joy to stay in touch with our former colleagues. I haven’t looked back, however it is wonderful for me to remain in the world of bankruptcy and chapter 13.

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Former Chapter 13 Standing Trustees

The NACTT Emeritus Trustee Committee is made up of former Chapter 13 Standing Trustees from all over the country: Michael Joseph, Isabel Balboa, Carl Bekofske, Herb Beskin, Chuck DeHart, Pete Fessenden, Mike Fitzgerald, Nancy Grigsby, Mary Grossman, James Henley, Howard Hu, Jan Johnson, Jeff Kellner, Tom King, Bill Miller, Frank Pees, Jan Hamilton, Denise Pappalardo, George Stevenson, Robert Wilson and Mike Meyer.

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