Burt’s motto is “if man made it, man can fix it.” Without any formal training, he has been teaching himself to fix machines of all sorts for almost 60 years.
Burt, 78, grew up in the Mount Washington neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. While serving his country in the Army during the Korean War, he was assigned to the motor pool where he developed a talent for fixing jeeps, trucks, and other mechanical things.
After the war, he married his local sweetheart and worked as a truck mechanic for a cement mixing business. Two years later, he moved into auto body repair, which he enjoyed much more.
He and his wife eventually moved to McMurray, PA, a coal mining town of 5,000 residents an hour’s drive down Route 19 from Pittsburgh, and bought his present home, a two-story colonial, with seven rooms, where they raised two boys and a girl.
Burt later opened his own auto body repair shop, in McMurray, which stayed open for 26 years. While it was a successful business, he was never able to set aside money for his eventual retirement. “I was lucky if I had enough money left over to pay the bills and my staff,” he says.
Eventually, the headaches of being a small business owner — dealing with insurance companies and making decisions whether to spend money on necessary upgrades — took its toll. He closed shop in 1988 and went to work for an insurance company assessing wrecked cars. Burt stayed in that job for 10 years until his wife developed ovarian cancer in 1997 and he left to be with her full-time. Sadly, she passed away that same year. The couple had been married 46 years.
“I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself, so I went to work for a golf course, as a mechanic fixing electric golf carts,” adds Burt. “They had never employed a mechanic before, and I knew nothing about golf carts, but I said if man made it, man can fix it.”
He stayed at the golf course well into his 70s.
While there, Burt started thinking about his eventual retirement and how he would sustain himself financially, since he had saved very little.
“I couldn’t live just on Social Security,” he says. Going back to when he was a teen, Burt has always been self-reliant. While his children could have helped him financially, Burt steadfastly refused to be a burden, because they have families of their own to take care of.
“I started thinking about a reverse mortgage eight years ago,” he adds. “You can’t just look at the costs, you have to look at the whole picture and decide whether it’s right for you.”
After thinking it over, considering the alternatives, and consulting with Randy Davis, at Dollar Bank, FSB, located in Pittsburgh, Burt got a reverse mortgage, mostly to supplement Social Security, so that he could remain financially secure.
Burt used some of the funds to pay off a car loan, a new driveway and windows he had recently installed. The rest was set up in a line of credit, which he only uses in emergencies. For the past year, he occupied himself by building a 40 foot by eight foot porch. “You can’t believe how much better it made the house look,” he says.
“I’m glad I got a reverse mortgage,” says Burt. “I have peace of mind now.”