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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Seniors Who Became Successful

Plenty of older adults have achieved acclaim after 60. It’s never too late to pursue a passion or try something new.  

It’s easy to occasionally feel like you’re just too old to (fill in the blank). Maybe it involves learning a new skill or doing something that you haven’t done for decades. We can psyche ourselves out as we grow older and fail to even try. Don’t let that happen to you.

There are plenty of stories of people who achieved beyond anyone’s expectations when they were past their 60th birthday. Reading about their success can encourage each of us to expand who we are and what we do, no matter our age. We can still fulfill some of those childhood goals or get inspired to try our hand at something we have never previously considered. Let the following stories inspire you!

  • Harry Bernstein was enduring profound loneliness after the death of his wife of 67 years when he began writing his first book. Drawn from his childhood experiences growing up with an alcoholic father and mother who struggled to feed their six offspring, the book also covers the love story of his Jewish sister and her Christian boyfriend. The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers was published when Bernstein turned 96. He went on to write three more books, all centering on his life. 
  • George W. Bush, former U.S. president, was 64 when he picked up a paintbrush and embarked on a totally new hobby in 2013. He’s now regarded as an accomplished oil painter and has toured with his portraits of American servicemen and women, as well as paintings of American immigrants. Painting offered the former president a new challenge completely different from the high stakes political decisions he made as head of a world power. Twenty-four of his portraits of world leaders hang in his presidential library located in Dallas.
  • Kenichi Horie was the first person ever to sail solo and non-stop across the Pacific. He completed the voyage from Osaka, Japan to San Francisco in 1962 at the age of 23. Now, he’s 83 and attempting to reverse that voyage, sailing solo from San Francisco back to his native country. At five feet tall, Horie says that he never needs to get in shape for an adventure. “I’m always fine, always in shape … No overeating, no over-drinking.” 
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder was in her 60s when she began writing the story of growing up while America was still being settled by pioneers. It was a gritty memoir of near starvation and hardship laced with the love of her family, but publishers initially rejected it. Some told her it would be a great children’s series if she could tone down the more adult themes. Ingalls Wilder took that advice and expanded her book into one of the most beloved series of all time. More than 60 million volumes of Little House on the Prairie have sold since the author’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, encouraged her mother to jot down her memories. That first book that Ingalls Wilder wrote was later published with the title Prairie Girl, in case you’d like to read the version written for adults. 
  • Anna Maria Robertson “Grandma” Moses had wanted to be an artist since she was a little girl, but a hectic life keeping a house of 10 children and maintaining a farm left her no time to pursue her passion. Finally, at age 78, she began painting in earnest and became one of the most preeminent folk artists of all time. Grandma Moses won a slew of awards, had her photo on the cover of magazines, and became a celebrity. In 2006, 45 years after her death at age 101, one of her pieces sold at auction for more than a million dollars. 
  • Mariko Yugeta of Japan is a modern-day example of someone holding onto a dream. A runner in her 20s, she put the sport on hold to raise her four children. It wasn’t until she was in her 50s that she could get more serious about her sport. In 2019, she became the first woman in the world to run a marathon in less than three hours. No one else has since been able to join her in that heady accomplishment. In fact, that record beat Yugeta’s own time of 3:09.21 when she ran her first marathon at age 24. “I’ll keep running for as long as I can,” she says. “There are official records for the over-70 age group, and I’d love to have a go at breaking those.”