The last thing a recent Wharton MBA graduate is thinking about right now is planning for retirement—e.g., living an enjoyable and fruitful life after a great career in a large corporation, small business, or successful startup.
But for the thousands of members who are part of the Wharton Graduate Emeritus Society (WGES), one’s “third age” is a reality. Almost as second nature, one devotes a lifetime preparing for retirement by saving and investing sufficient funds, in addition to staying in good physical condition for family, friends, and fun. But most never thought they would live 20 to 30 years in a “third age” in which they would have time to invest personal energy and experience in improving society and possibly reinventing themselves.
Speaking at his 50th reunion in 2010, former American Airlines CEO Robert Crandall WG60 encouraged attending WGES members, who were mainly retirees in their 60s and 70s, to use their remaining energies to help solve society’s economic, political, and social problems. He noted that “70 is the new 50” and that we all have a lot of life in us to help solve some of these problems.
Motivated by Crandall’s words, WGES in 2017 began awarding the Crandall Challenge Citation to recognize alumni who have reached their 45th year since graduation and have made great efforts to improve society on the local, national, and international levels. It has become one of WGES’s principal initiatives, led by steering committee member Kevin Woelflein WG58, and over the years has been awarded to alumni for a range of diverse achievements.
Charles Decker WG64 set up the Charles Decker Foundation in the Dominican Republic to support more than 1,000 children at three orphanages, an activity center, and a school. The effort has expanded to include a college scholarship program and job-training opportunities.
Mike Wallace WG65 started a foundation that funds scholarships for students at the Lao-American College. Through this work, he aims to develop the business economy and community in Laos.
Did you know that Wharton has a playwright? After a very successful career as a federal research economist, Tony Gallo WG63 reinvented himself to become a playwright, lyricist, book writer, director, and theater owner. He established the nonprofit theater company Seventh Street Playhouse more than 20 years ago in Washington, D.C.
Richard Tecca WG58 was recognized for his early work organizing and directing the collegiate choir at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. He also has played active roles in the Connecticut Gilbert and Sullivan Society and the Hartford Chorale.
Jack Smith W51 WG52 was a dedicated and active member of the Wharton Alumni Association. He also devoted his time and energy to a number of community organizations in the greater Philadelphia area. Tom Hadlock WG66, the current chair of WGES, noted that Jack was responsible for the 2003 formation of the emeritus society.
Dr. Milt Silver EE50 WG52, a faculty member of Drexel University, focuses on developing and mentoring entrepreneurs at both Drexel and Wharton. He also is a founding member of WGES.
Fred Hallahan WG61 concentrated his knowledge and experience on building MedStar Health in Maryland and Washington, D.C. He also spearheaded Our Daily Bread Employment Center—particularly the Work4Success employment-preparation program—for the Catholic Charities of Baltimore.
Louis D’Amore WG64 formed the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism. Among its work, the nonprofit organization holds global conferences that have involved participants such as heads of states and Nobel Prize winners. It also has created Global Peace Parks dedicated to world peace.
Gordon Dowsley WG69, from Oshawa, Ontario, has devoted his experience and talents throughout his life to several initiatives, including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Canadian Landmine Foundation, and the Rotary Clubs of Canada, to name a few.
Other Notable Emeriti
Those who received the Crandall Challenge Citation are only a few of the members of the WGES “Geezer Crusade” who continue to change the world. The 2019 applications for the award prove there are many more:
Reid Becker WG74 is part of a volunteer team that promotes science, technology, engineering, art, and math programs at schools in the Greenville, South Carolina, area. One of its numerous efforts, the team works with e-Nable, an organization that provides the technical process for producing 3-D printed hands so that volunteers can make them for children all over the world.
Filemon Berba WG64 is president of the Philippine Foundation for Science and Technology that involves more than 400,000 high school students each year in programs that prepare them for engineering and technical careers.
John Baker WG68 devotes his talents, time, and energy as a board member and treasurer of the Joseph Branch Trail Consortium, a multimillion-dollar trail restoration project in Wallowa County, Oregon.
This list goes on and on. It leads to a conclusion: When Wharton grads “retire,” they volunteer their time, energy, and know-how to improving life in our nation and around the world. As they develop their professional and economic lives in the “second age,” they are shaping how they will devote the 20 to 30 years of their “third age.” Their dedication to a better society leads them to a life that is double-blessed with both wonder and reward.