Virginia Beach, Virginia
It has to feel a bit odd these days when Steve wakes up in his Virginia
Beach home and does not have an office
to go to. In January of this year, his 75th year,
Tom was laid off by Gold Key Resorts, for
whom, he sold time shares. “The best job I’ve ever had,” he says.
And he has a lot to measure it against. For Steve has been
working tirelessly straight through for 50 years now, moving
from organization to organization, good job to bad and back,
struggling to provide for his wife, a Registered Nurse,
and their two daughters.
After graduating from Bridgewater College in his home state of
Virginia, Steve took a shot at acting in New York. “I did two
off-Broadway plays,” he says, “but I never made it to Broadway.”
After seven years of trying to make a go of it in theater, when
his first of two daughters arrived, Steve felt he had to
find a better way to support the family and took a job selling
the Encyclopedia Britannica door to door. Putting his actor’s
charm (which is still evident) to good use, this was the first of
a lifetime of sales oriented jobs. He sold commercial air time
for Pat Robertson’s Christian television network, ran a financial
planning division for another ministry, sold hot water systems,
ran fundraising for still another ministry and then at 64, joined
In the midst of this all, in 1991, the couple faced
bankruptcy and lost everything. When he talks of this time, Steve
speaks with great empathy for his wife rather than himself. He
was determined to get beyond the crisis and never look back.
The Gold Key position allowed him to get back on his feet, catch
up and eventually make a down payment on a $149,000
townhouse ten minutes west of the boardwalk in this resort town.
“As they say in Hollywood, you’re only as good as your last
movie,” Steve says. “Working on commission, as I did at Gold
Key, you have ups and downs and you’re beholden to the
economy. You also never know what health turns may occur. I
wanted to make sure we could meet our obligations no matter
So in 2005, Steve turned to Chris Fanney, a reverse mortgage
specialist at Seniors First Mortgage Company. The family's
home was assessed at $283,000 and, though there was no
immediate pressing need, the couple took out a reverse
mortgage in the form of a line of credit. The money has sat in
the account and the amount available has grown for the past
four years. “The reverse mortgage has provided us with a great
deal of stability,” he says. “Even though we haven’t touched it
yet, it lets me sleep at night.”
Steve is living on a combination of social security and
unemployment insurance right now. Even at 75, he’s still
thinking about looking for a new job. It’s what he’s used to.
But each major decision seems less stressful with
the reverse mortgage proceeds sitting there for them.