How To Enjoy Your Ideal Retirement

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From his enlightening history classes to his weekly newspaper columns, George Prettyman never fails to deliver a powerful lesson. An avid performer, his delivery is not so bad either. At 93, Mr. Prettyman still teaches a heavily-attended history class for his fellow assisted living residents and writes two weekly columns for local newspapers.

The seventh child of a Methodist minister, Mr. Prettyman’s education started early. His father traveled often and regularly took the young boy along. Prettyman recalls, “I have often said that he put me in his pocket and took me wherever he went, and that is pretty much the truth.” Trips around the region and to Methodist conferences whetted the young Prettyman’s appetite for education. He notes that the “new and different experiences” he was exposed to as a young boy were the basis of his education.

After graduating from high school in Cecil County, Prettyman attended the University of Delaware and earned both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. Soon after graduation his lengthy and prestigious career as an educator began. During his 21 years as a teacher at Rising Sun High School, he taught English, mathematics, psychology, and even Spanish. Later in his career, he served as the Director of Public Relations for the Harford County Public School System for 13 years.

Prettyman’s retirement brought new opportunities. He became a member of the faculty at Cecil Community College, where he taught for five years before being made a Professor Emeritus. Never one to slow down, Prettyman immediately took up fundraising for the College.

An accomplished journalist, Prettyman has contributed to the Maryland News Courier, the Cecil Democrat, the Harford Democrat, The Cecil Whig, the Havre de Grace Record, and the Oxford Press during his career, which spans over 50 years. When one of his fellow fundraisers convinced him to compile some of his over 2,000 columns for publication in a book, a new fundraiser was born. “My son and I spent untold hours going through the pile of clippings and eventually 105 columns were put together in a book called Red Top Boots,” Prettyman remembers.

The proceeds from Red Top Boots went toward an endowment fund in Mr. Prettyman’s name. He notes, “I never received one cent from that publication. It was strictly my gift to the institution.” The fund now provides a considerable contribution to the tuition costs of former Cecil County High School students who want to further their education.

In December of 2000, Mr. Prettyman decided it was time to leave his single family home in favor of an environment where he could receive the assistance he needed. He moved to Morningside House, an assisted living community. The move allowed him to be closer to his son and to give up his growing list of home maintenance chores. Mr. Prettyman now has the security of knowing that any care he may need will be provided by a highly qualified staff.

Recently, Secretary Jean W. Roesser, Chairperson of the Interagency Committee on Aging Services in Maryland and a member of Governor Erlich’s staff, presented Morningside House of Laurel, one of Morningside House’s seven properties throughout Maryland and Virginia, with a special proclamation for outstanding care and service to seniors and their families. Morningside House is also one of the few assisted living communities in Maryland to receive a deficiency-free State survey.

Morningside House provides a lot more than just quality care, and Mr. Prettyman is taking advantage of the many amenities. He has become a central member of the active resident population at Morningside House. Shortly after moving, he worked with the community’s Activity Director to develop a current events program. He now compiles a calendar of historic events every month that is very popular among his fellow residents. The calendar details noteworthy events, and Mr. Prettyman completes hours of research while putting it together.

The success of his calendar led to the creation of Mr. Prettyman’s history class, which is remarkably well-attended. The class’ most recent topics have been little known presidents, such as John Tyler and Zachary Taylor. Thrilled with the success of these sessions, Mr. Prettyman says, “Frankly, I am amazed at the interest shown in my talks. It’s both flattering and humbling that all these people are showing up to hear a ninety-three-year-old man with a husky voice talk for an hour.” He adds, “The expressions on their faces during that hour are priceless to me.”

When he is not teaching, Mr. Prettyman can generally be found writing. His columns still appear every week in the The Cecil Whig and the Havre de Grace Record. This self-described “sports addict” also spends a lot of his time watching baseball and football games.

“I still see myself as being a school teacher and a minister in that I care for people who need my attention,” Prettyman says. He smiles as he adds, “I’m also a performer when I try my best to entertain during my history classes.” Modesty quickly takes over, and he concludes, “I am just old George Prettyman, and I don’t care to be anything else.”

After 93 years, he has perfected the act and has certainly created what most would term an ideal retirement-by George!

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