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 Gold Key.
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 what happened.”
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.