Older adults find new ventures after retirement
For most of us, retirement means slowing down and enjoying what’s familiar and comfortable. That’s not true of everyone, however. There are older adults who have an enterprising spirit that kicks in and keeps going well after their mid-60s. We’ve found four of them nearby.
Mary Ellen Moseley found herself in need of a new career in the late 1990s, so she turned her skills into a business helping others keep up with their household chores. “Anything a housewife doesn’t have time to do, I’m there,” she said. Miss Moseley, as she prefers to be called, will turn 80 in August, but she has no intention of slowing down.
Much of Geoffrey Levy’s life involved selling pearls and working with soccer teams. When the 65-year-old noticed small CBD shops popping up in the area, he saw an opportunity. “I decided to open one that’s more like a supermarket,” Levy said. His Apothecary ATL, located in Sandy Springs, offers more than 250 products.
For Gene Rubel, 78, the prompting to do something new came from his wife, he said. His business ended after the 2008 recession, and she wanted him to stay active — so Rubel found a way to turn his computer hobby into a business. “That’s how Digital Device Doctor got started,” he said.
Paul Richin, MD, who goes by Dr. Richin, retired from working in hospitals in August 2020. The doctor, who said he is “over 65 and on Medicare,” decided to go back into private practice and “get back to old-style medicine” with Orthopedic Cortisone Injection Center, the office he opened in Dunwoody at the end of last year.
A New Lease on Old-Style Medicine
Dr. Richin was an orthopedic surgeon who practiced at the DeKalb Medical Center in Decatur for almost 40 years. “I was Chief of Orthopedics for a few years and on many committees at the hospital,” he said.
Originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dr. Richin attended medical school at Georgetown University, where he also performed his orthopedic residency. He spent two years in the Air Force, based in Montgomery, Alabama.
In 1979, Dr. Richin came to Atlanta to open his orthopedic practice. One of the personal touches that his patients enjoyed was his clear explanations of their health issues. He drew simple diagrams and described their problem, diagnosis and treatment in clear terms.
“Many of my patients would keep the pictures, use them to explain things to their family and even bring them back to later doctor visits,” he said. “They seemed to love the pictures and the way I’d explain their problems to them.”
Dr. Richin was also one of the few orthopedic specialists to volunteer at the Free Clinic in Decatur, and he performed many free-of-charge operations for its patients. He remembers one clinic patient in particular.
“She told me that I’m the only doctor who made her feel like a regular patient, and not like she was getting charity,” he said. “She said she loved coming to the office. Now she has insurance, and to this day, she comes to see me at my office.”
Eventually, Dr. Richin’s practice was absorbed by DeKalb Medical Center, and subsequently by Emory Healthcare. “For the last four or five years, I worked for hospitals,” he said, “but I was always much happier when I was working for myself.”
Once he retired, that’s just what he decided to do. Dr. Richin opened his private medical practice, the Orthopedic Cortisone Injection Center (OCIC), at the end of 2020.
OCIC provides easy access and same-day appointments to patients who want non-surgical and non-narcotic pain relief for ailments like arthritis, bursitis and tendonitis. “I wanted to get back to old-style medicine, where patients would see a physician and could get in very quickly for a visit, without having to wait up to six weeks,” he explained.
Dr. Richin said that he tries to treat conservatively, with physical therapy and injections rather than rushing into surgery. Though, he cautioned, conservative treatment does depend on the joints involved. “I’m not trying to get patients in the operating room, I’m just trying to get them better.”
Keeping with the traditional concept, Dr. Richin and his wife of 50 years live across the street from his Dunwoody office. He said that allows him to be flexible, since he can just walk over to the office and see his patients fairly quickly.
Things seem to be going well at this point, Dr. Richin noted. “I think the patients are getting a better experience, and I’m getting a better experience also!”
The Digital Doctor Is In
For 25 years, Gene Rubel, a Sandy Springs resident who originally hailed from New York, was a business broker through InterLink Technologies. “I had my own business, making connections between international companies and doing acquisitions with companies all over the world,” he said. “I traveled three weeks out of four for many years.”
He “was retired” from that career when the crash of 2008 put him out of business. “So, I felt sorry for myself for a little while,” he said. “Then I had the opportunity to run a small non-profit — Jewish Healthcare International — where volunteer doctors and nurses were sent to different places in world.” Much of the activity was in Ethiopia, he noted.
Eventually, the organization finished their mission and Rubel was back to looking for somewhere to put his skill and energy.
“My wife said, ‘You can’t stay home,’” he chuckled, so he turned to his hobby of 60 years. “I enjoyed technology and working with computers. I wondered: is there some way to make a business out of it?” He found a way, by starting his Digital Device Doctor business.
Rubel found a specific niche for his business when he noticed that many older adults needed help with technology. “I thought I had a pretty good way to work with seniors, so that’s been my marketing focus,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for almost six years now. I’m busy and it’s a real pleasure to do it.”
Through his business, Rubel works with people at all levels of technical ability. Some clients just need advice on what kind of computer or tablet to buy, while others have very limited experience. “A lot of people are retired from a place where they had an IT department,” he said. “I’m also working with about three or four women whose husbands are suffering with dementia; before that, the husbands took care of everything. The women have to confront things they never had to deal with before.”
Rubel has built long-term relationships with many of his clients, and he manages the computers for a couple of nonprofit groups. He said most of his business comes his way from word of mouth, through organizations he works with and his regular column in Atlanta Senior Life. He noted another source: a computer shop that refers him to customers that need a home visit — usually because of wi-fi problems — and anyone with Microsoft Outlook issues.
“I started my business with friends and relatives, and gradually expanded from there,” he said. “Mostly, from people referring their friends and relatives.”
Generally, customers come to him when they’re in a technology crisis — a crashed computer or a phone that won’t sync up — and Digital Device Doctor offers a pay-by-the-hour service to get them up and running. Rubel also offers a subscription service, where customers pay a regular fee and call him whenever they have problems. He even emails them monthly newsletters with tech new info and advice.
The business has given Rubel the opportunity to help more people, especially since the pandemic started. “Many people, especially seniors, are disconnected, but they can connect through Zoom,” he said. Sometimes his clients need an expert to figure out how to use the conferencing platform.
“They’ll say, “My camera doesn’t work,” and I let them know: “You have a desktop computer, so you don’t have a camera.” Or they’ll say, “Nobody can hear what I’m saying,” and I’ll explain, “You don’t have a microphone.”
He added that a perk of having a business in the technology field is that he gets to buy all the latest gadgets to learn about them. “My wife can’t complain about me buying yet another printer!”
A Driven Entrepreneur
For many years, Geoffrey Levy has made his living with his South Sea pearl business. His business has taken him all around the world as he sold the high-quality Australian, Tahitian and Indonesian pearls to jewelers, wholesalers and manufacturers.
Now an Alpharetta resident, Levy was born in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia at the time) and came to the United States in 1977. “Like most citizens of Rhodesia, I was drafted into service during the Bush War,” he said. The Rhodesian Bush War, 1964-1979, was a civil conflict that resulted in the independence of Zimbabwe. For three years, Levy was a pilot in the Police Air Wing (PRAW), flying reconnaissance, before he made his way to the U.S.
Levy still has strong ties to his African homeland. One of the ways he stays connected is through his support of 14 boys (now young men) in Zambia who were orphaned by the AIDS epidemic there.
He also has a long history with soccer, and he became a FIFA/USS-licensed soccer intermediary. “I was administrator of Zambian women’s soccer for five or six years,” he said. “I took it on because I didn’t like how the girls were being treated. They were paid so little, while the men’s team was getting a lot of money. I thought it was important for them to get an education and improve their lives.”
His faith and efforts paid off. The under-17 women’s team qualified in 2014 for the World Cup. “I took them to California, where they trained for two weeks,” Levy said. “Then we went on to Costa Rica for the World Cup.” Most of the players from that team are part of the team that qualified for the 2020 Olympics, and others are now playing on European soccer teams, he reported.
About a year ago, Levy decided to open a marketplace for CBD products — Apothecary ATL in Sandy Springs. He explained that, personally, he had a good experience with CBD when he broke a toe and was getting no help from doctors. “Nothing helped,” he said. “Then several people told me to try CBD, and when I did, it gave me relief.”
More and more CBD stores began popping up in the area, and Levy noticed something that piqued his entrepreneurial interest. “I saw that most of them were franchises with just 10 to 12 products,” he said. “I decided to open one that’s more like a supermarket. I have over 250 products.”
Even after the store was up and running, Levy didn’t stop there. Now he manufactures 32 of his own products. “I’m wholesaling and selling them to other stores,” he said. “I’ve had a fantastic response; it’s great.”
A Career of Silver Service
In her “original” career, Mary Ellen Moseley — who goes by MeM or Miss MeM — worked as an administrator / bookkeeper for Dick Hagman Associates, her husband’s manufacturing rep business. “In 1972, we were one of the first Swarovski Crystal representatives in the U.S.,” she said. “We had a showroom in the Dallas Trade Mart.”
Dick Hagman Associates was one of the original tenants in Kansas City, Missouri’s Amigo Mart, which was built in the 1980s. Then came the opportunity to return home.
Though Miss Moseley was born in Sumter, South Carolina, she moved to Vinings, Georgia in 1949. “In the 1990s, after moving back to Atlanta, we were tenants of the Americas Mart on Spring Street in Atlanta,” she said.
The showroom was open five days a week and for gift shows three times a year, “so decorating was always involved, as well as cleaning, packing and storing,” she said. “I became accomplished at most of these, including keeping the books and paying the five reps that we had in the Southeast.”
In 1998, once her marriage ended, Miss Moseley realized that she needed employment, so she joined an agency that specialized in newborn care. “I think the training lasted about six weeks, and I worked for them off and on until I found something more permanent,” she said. “I ended up moving in with one of my client’s families and caring for their newborn — and eventually for their two other children — for a total of eight and a half years.”
The family moved away, and Miss Moseley found a temporary job cooking three days a week for a couple who were both attorneys. That led to other jobs, mostly in fresh meal preparation.
Since then, Miss Moseley has fine-tuned her “Silver Service” business. “I call my career ‘duplicating a housewife’,” she said. She’s ready to do whatever is needed. “Sometimes it’s cooking, gift wrapping, addressing envelopes, sewing or ironing.”
She also offers “The Five Star Hotel 30-Minute Pick-Up” service. Miss Moseley prepares things so when the owners arrive home, dishes are in the dishwasher, beds are made, the bathroom is tidied, and the lights and music are turned on, ready for their return.
“I always wanted to have clean linens on my bed every night, so I figured that a special cleanup like that would be something that a busy attorney would like,” she said, “and generally, it doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes.”
Miss Moseley said that she sees her jobs as more than a way to earn income; she considers them her ministry. “I love helping people organize their space,” she said. “I have helped people downsize from their homes to apartments, organize their linen and kitchen closets, and get rid of unnecessary household items.”
These days, Miss Moseley lives in a Buckhead retirement community, where she helps run the Caring Hands Boutique at Calvin Court with another resident and fellow volunteer Tom Hart. The boutique raises money that is earmarked for use at Calvin Court to help residents in need.
Caring Hands is a charity of Presbyterian Homes of Georgia; it helps residents with things like paying doctor bills, rent or meal cards, she explained.
Although she’s ready to help in many ways, Miss Moseley is narrowing her focus these days. “I no longer do any housecleaning or shopping,” she stressed. “The 30-Minute Pickup — yes!”