The Business Journal salutes seven octogenarians and one nonagenarian for whom age is just a number.
DAVID FREEMAN, 83
Interim General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power; Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment
Why not retire?
I looked in my dictionary and the word is not there. Maybe I need a better dictionary. Seriously, though, it never occurred to me to retire. Retirement doesn’t pay very well and you don’t have anything to do.
Do you think you will ever retire?
As long as the good Lord gives me good health and I can pursue my life’s work, I fully intend to keep at it. I don’t see any end in sight. As for this job, I’m on loan here to the DWP; after they find a permanent general manager, I will go back to being deputy mayor.
What’s the best aspect of working past 80?
Life is a whole lot easier. You’re no longer trying to make your mark in the world, so you do what you enjoy. Also, I don’t sweat the small stuff. Overall, I’m thankful I’m able to work, and how lucky I am to be alive and be in the loop.
What’s the worst?
There really isn’t much of a downside. Of course, I’m always the toughest judge of myself. But maybe when you get to be my age, you get to take both the praise and the criticism more in stride. I find that I’m able to roll with the punches more than I used to.
How do you keep up to date with industry trends and learn those “new tricks” they say old dogs can’t?
I continually work with people a whole lot younger than me; I don’t spend a lot of time with old folks. I’ve been doing this most of my adult life. As for new tricks, I’ve learned how to use e-mail and that’s about it. I don’t do all this texting and Twitter and the like.
What’s your career goal?
My life’s work is helping our city and our nation make the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. I consider myself the grandfather of the efficiency movement, going back to the early 1970s when I did a study for the Ford Foundation on energy efficiency. But right now, I don’t need any more personal acclaim. I’m just appreciative of the opportunity I’ve been given.
What advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?
To stand for something. You have to fight for a cause you believe in, and it must be at least somewhat of a struggle. You must struggle through to achieve what you believe in. You don’t want to just drift through life.
Best advice you ever got?
My dad laid down two precepts: Life should be a joy and you have to stand for something.
What’s the secret to your vitality?
I picked parents with good genes, I guess. But seriously, though, I have found that getting a good night’s sleep every night is a very good thing; I try to get eight hours every night. Another good thing is going to the gym three times a week; I work out for at least an hour each time.
Do you work more or fewer hours than you did in your 30s or 40s?
I think I work fewer hours than I did in my 30s and 40s. I work about nine or 10 hours a day now; I still put in a 50- or 60-hour week. However, I find that when I get home at night, I no longer want to open my work files; I’m ready to watch some TV and then go to bed.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.