Retiring Late

Glendale, Arizona

Just two years ago, you could find 80-year-old Beverly on the floor in the petites department in Macy’s. Work was always an important part of her life. She had one career as a local supper club singer, backed up by a band called the Escorts. Then, with her mother, Bev opened a coffee shop on 2nd Street in downtown Phoenix. And she spent 20 years at the department store watching it change from the Robinson/May Company to Macy’s. Along the way, she lost her husband of 20 years, a real estate manager.

“I got ill from working so hard,” says Bev, who retired in 2007 when she was hospitalized with congestive heart failure. “My feet still hurt. But I only take three pills a day, which is not a lot for someone my age.” She followed that with a bout of pneumonia. “Suddenly your life changes, and you do what you have to do,” she says.

Bev lives in a 1,500 square foot, three bedroom ranch house in Glendale, Arizona, nine miles west of downtown Phoenix. It’s one of those bedroom communities that suddenly pop up in the desert, this one now famous as the home of the University of Phoenix Stadium, where the Super Bowl was held, as well as the new spring training headquarters of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. Bev, who is of Lebanese descent, moved to Glendale in 1991. When forced into retirement, Bev found herself in need of money just to cover her basic expenses. Some friends suggested a reverse mortgage, “but so many of my friends discouraged me,” she says. “It turned out none of them really knew much about it.” But her younger brother investigated the situation and found Lorrie Larson of Reverse Mortgages USA, whom Bev now considers a close friend.

Bev's home, with a small yard filled with lemon, orange and grapefruit trees, was valued at $245,000. She received about $170,000, which paid off her mortgage that was costing her $900 per month, and a car loan. She still has a line of credit of about $75,000.

Now that she’s feeling well again, and her bills are paid each month, Bev can have some fun again. “But not at any senior center,” she says. “I don’t look my age at all. I look much younger. Everyone says so. I’d look silly with some old guy.” Lately, she has devoted a lot of time to writing poetry. “I wrote a poem about Obama,” she says. “One about Walgreens. And I have to write a poem about Lorrie. She’s the nicest woman I ever met.”