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Multitasking during their golden years

  • CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS At age 82, Eloise Hinterleiter is still on the job as Weatherly Borough secretary.
    CHRIS PARKER/TIMES NEWS At age 82, Eloise Hinterleiter is still on the job as Weatherly Borough secretary.
Published June 16. 2012 09:01AM

Eloise Hinterleiter, poised, genteel and all of 82 years old, sits at her large, L-shaped wooden desk in the Weatherly Borough Hall, greeting visitors, typing notes on a computer and organizing paperwork.

After 43 years as the borough secretary, a job she's held since 1968, Hinterleiter is adept at multitasking: her duties include taking and computerizing minutes of borough council meetings and helping people who come in to pay bills or ask questions.

For Hinterleiter, it's all in a day's work.

"I don't have the desire to travel, and I just like to work. I like the people, I like my job," she said.

Hinterleiter is among the more than 287,000 Pennsylvanians over age 65 who are still in the workforce. Their numbers have grown from about 156,000 to 287,000 - or 83.9 percent - between 1992 and 2011, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. Nationwide, nearly one in five people over age 65 continues to work, the most since 1964.

They continue to work for a variety of reasons.

"The economy, and benefits - both medical and pensions," says Cheri Santore, Administrator for the Carbon County Area Agency on Aging. "Pain and simple: people are worried that Social Security won't be enough and won't be around for them later in life."

However, she says, "some older adults do remain working to keep themselves busy and active as well. I know that my Gram worked in a factory until she was 80. She enjoyed her work very much and since she was a widow, it gave her social interaction, as well as a paycheck."

Hinterleiter says working keeps her young - and also providing needed medical benefits. Others work because the recent recession scrambled their retirement nest eggs.

But some work to stave off using retirement savings until absolutely necessary.

John and Sherry Dewald of Albrightsville could be whiling away their days, soaking up the sun or sleeping late. Instead the couple - she's 65 and he is 69 - drive school buses for Getz Transportation.

"It's a lot of fun," Sherry says. "It's something to do. The hours are great. We work two or three hours a day, and have weekends, holidays, and summer vacation off. In bad weather, we don't have to drive."

John concurs.

"It's extra money. We're on a limited income, and if we work, we don't have to use our savings," he says. "We will work while we can work."

Al Dietz, who turns 91 on Aug. 21, is a well-known face at the Schuylkill County courthouse, where he reports on judicial and county matters for the TIMES NEWS.

"I am working for two reasons. First, I love what I am doing, and I believe it has helped increase my longevity because it keeps my mind sharp, gives me the physical exercise I need daily - although I do sneak in a game of golf once a week and gives me a goal to reach daily," he says.

"The second reason is financial. I'm a newspaper man, not a business man and I failed to have TIMES NEWS put me on the staff. When I stop working it means no pension from the paper and this would be a great drop in income.

"The newspaper has been great to me and I deeply appreciate the editors in allowing me to continue to work and not retire at the mandated age. I love the paper because it is like a family and you care for each other.

"I enjoy gong daily to the courthouse and seeing all my friends," Dietz says. "There are very fine people who work there. All the judges are my friends because I covered their introduction into law when they appeared in court to be admitted to practice law in the county. I have great communication with the commissioners and their staff."

The numbers of older workers such as Hinterleiter, the Dewalds, and Dietz are expected to continue to increase. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, eight in 10 currently employed Americans anticipate continuing to work after retirement age. Of those, 44 to 36 percent because they want to, not because they must.

As for Hinterleiter, she lets no grass grow under her feet. In addition to her job, she is secretary of her church, Zion Lutheran, taking over the office more than 25 years ago after her late husband, Charles, became ill. He died in 2001.

She's also active in other volunteer activities, including Weatherly's 150th Anniversary Committee, which is preparing for the celebration, to be held next year. Recently, she sold anniversary T-shirts at the borough's annual Hill Climb.

"I try to help out wherever I can," she says.

Hinterleiter doesn't plan on slowing down any time soon.

"I wish I knew a little more about the Internet," she says. "So sometime, maybe when I have a little more time, or if I do retire, I'll look into that a little more."

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