Seizing the Day: Retirement Doesn’t Stop His Workout

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continuing care elder man Howard “Hal” Kellogg’s philosophy on aging gracefully doesn’t involve cosmetic surgery, expensive machinery or fad diets. It’s simply about making the most of what you’ve got.

“You should use it, or you’ll lose it,” said the 91-year-old, who exercises six days a week and does crossword puzzles faithfully. “It’s tremendously important not to slow down.”

A retired lawyer and Harvard Law School alumnus, Hal and his wife Frannie have been residents of Foulkeways at Gwynedd, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Gwynedd, Pa., for 13 years.

And though his partnership in a Philadelphia law firm kept him busy for many years, it was only after retiring that Hal became his most active. At age 62, he geared up for the most challenging physical feat of his life: hiking the Appalachian Trail.

“Three weeks after retirement, I took off to walk the trail from Georgia to Maine,” Hal recalled. “I have vivid memories of every day of those four-and-a-half months, walking 2,140 miles along the crest of the Appalachian Mountains.” While Hal did occasionally see other campers, the majority of his trek was spent in solitary reflection “There were so many views, and camping under the stars was just wonderful,” he said. He reached the end of the trail on September 11, his 63rd birthday.

That trek was the longest Hal had completed during his 70 years of summer mountaineering, backpacking, trekking and foot-racing in Alaska, the Canadian Rockies, Wyoming’s Wind River Range, New Zealand, Nepal’s Himalayas, the Alps, England’s Cotswolds and New Hampshire’s White Mountains, mostly with Frannie and others.

This journey signaled a new chapter in Hal’s life, which is presently filled with rigorous physical and mental activities.

“Physically speaking, I’ve actually been overactive in growing older,” said Hal. Along with his regular workout routine, he participates in the Montgomery County Senior Games and the annual New Hampshire State 5K foot race. “It’s been tremendously important at the age of 91 to keep up this way,” said Hal, who credits Foulkeways at Gwynedd with encouraging and accommodating his physical endeavors.

The community boasts more than 100 acres suited for physical activities, a number of fine wooded trails and a large fitness center.

“It’s a great blessing to be in a community that supports this wonderful fitness center we have on campus,” he said. “It’s also nice that I can walk to the nearby shopping center in little over half an hour, so that keeps me on the go as well.”

And while keeping his body in prime condition, Hal has given the same attention to his mind. He calls himself “a bit obsessed” with crossword puzzles, enjoying the challenge they add to his heavy reading load. After retiring, Hal also enrolled in art history and music theory classes at Philadelphia Community College to further educate himself.

“I’ve always enjoyed art appreciation and they give a marvelous series of lectures,” Hal said of his classes. “It has enriched my life and furthered my interest in viewing art in museums all over the world.”

This nonagenarian’s life has been extraordinarily full. Hal completed his graduate degree at Harvard University, served his country in World War II and found employment in Philadelphia. He married his wife, Frannie, also an avid hiker, nearly 60 years ago. They have five children, whom they visit frequently in Oregon, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and locally in Mt. Airy and the Lehigh Valley. Hal is also a recipient of the “25-Gallon Donor” award from the American Red Cross, honoring his years of faithful donations.

Hal said his decision to retire right at age 62 was the result of a growing “To Do” list. “There was just so much I wanted to do!” he recalled.

The Kelloggs lived in Philadelphia for a few years in a renovated historic area, but realized they wanted to plan ahead for their “advancing years,” as Hal calls them.

“It was the realization that, at some point, we might need assisted living or skilled nursing care,” he said. “A continuing care retirement community provides all levels of care, should you need them, but does not interfere with your independence while you are living an active lifestyle.”

Hal and Frannie also wanted to be pro-active in the event that they would need medical care later in life.

“We thought it was better to put a plan in place before we had a pressing need, to be ready if we had some serious problems,” said Hal. “If we needed assistance, we didn’t want to just think about it – we wanted to take action.”

The Kelloggs put their names on the waiting lists for two different retirement communities, and after much deliberation, chose Foulkeways at Gwynedd.

Hal and Frannie had heard favorable things about Foulkeways, and ultimately chose the community because of its open and friendly nature. Founded on Quaker ideals, the residents and staff value friendship, diversity and culture. The Kelloggs, who are Episcopalians, felt very much at home.

“It just felt like the right fit, but Foulkeways also aligned with our specific personal and cultural concerns,” Hal said. “It’s a community that has tremendous concern for the larger society, and other people, as well.”

The Kelloggs’ propensity for planning really paid off. “It was about seven years before we finally moved in,” said Hal with a chuckle. “And it was just right to sign up that far in advance, because by the time we moved in we were at the top of the ‘priority’ list and had our choice of residences.”

Hal and his wife live in a one bedroom apartment with a den, which has more than enough room for their belongings. “It’s just perfect for us,” he said, “It has always felt like home.”

Hal and Frannie avoided a lot of the stress of downsizing with advanced planning. When they received the floor plans for their apartment at Foulkeways, they decided what they would take with them and what would stay behind. One day when their children were all visiting their home in Philadelphia, the family decided together who would take the extra belongings.

“We marked all the excess items that we wouldn’t need and each child took turns putting their name tags on items they’d like to have,” he said. “It was the simplest thing in the world.”

With all the extra furnishings gone, the Kelloggs moved into their apartment with ease.

“Planning ahead makes life just so much easier,” said Hal. “My retirement wouldn’t be the same without it.”Many fellow residents at Foulkeways say they admire Hal for his full, active and productive retirement years. Good luck on your next adventure, Hal, and make sure to give us all the details.

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