By Catherine Jackman
The age of retirement does not mean that seniors are slowing down. Instead it seems they are only becoming more active.
Karl Walsh, affectionately known as Wally, is 64 years old and still working part-time at Funk and Gruven A-Z, an antique store in Belleville’s downtown core. Walsh cleans and restores furniture at the antique shop, as well as making coffee and doing other odd jobs.
“I retired about five years ago. Watching TV and reading books non-stop for six months was more than I could stand. Now I work here part time,” said Walsh.
“Life would be so boring,” said Walsh about not having a part-time job. “People who retire like me, without really a plan of what you want to do, or without the financial resources to do it, it’s really an empty kind of life.”
“So this fills up my day, gives me something to look forward to, and I’m hopeful that I can play some small role in the success of the business,” said Walsh.
Walsh, who holds an MBA in chemical engineering, met the owner of Funk and Gruven A-Z in a comical way five years ago.
While working for a landlord, Walsh was in the middle of digging a whole, when Mike Malachowski came along and asked him if he was planning on digging to China. Walsh responded by making a joke about finding a menu, securing a friendship with Malachowski.
“He started hiring me just to do the occasional thing, like if he needed to move some furniture. Mike’s taught me to do various things such as touching up and repairing the items, as well as cleaning,” said Walsh.
Now Walsh works at the store two to three times a week as a way to keep himself busy, and stay up to date with the community.
Joy Martin, who does marketing and sales for the antique store, also talked about the benefits of having a part-time-job for Walsh.
“It’s good for him. I mean, I don’t think he ever fully retired, so he’s carrying on. Both of us are doing something we haven’t done before. Retail, I’ve never worked retail, and neither has he, that I know of. We’re learning things every day and hopefully contributing,” said Martin.
But Walsh is not the only senior working at the antique store. They also work with a cabinetmaker who he estimates in his late seventies or early eighties. Walsh mentioned that he thinks the cabinetmaker is a genius.
However, working at the antique store is not all that keeps Walsh busy in his retirement. He is also a musician, playing the saxophone, clarinet and the flute. He has been playing since he was seven years old, calling it his first love and passion.
“I now play in six different bands, and I have my own little group. So I guess this keeps me busy at night. I’ve busy here in the day, and busy with music at night,” explained Walsh.
With two substantial activities in his life, Walsh maintains a lifestyle that keeps both his mind and body active. Walsh is a living example that hard work does not end once a person reaches the age of retirement.