Retirement According to…Mr. Mayor

Alan Spector is an author, business consultant, baseball player, traveler, and grandfather.  He has authored four published books, including, with coauthor Keith Lawrence, Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement (  Alan and Keith conduct workshops across the country helping prospective and current retirees plan the non-financial aspects of their retirement—to make the rest of their lives the best of their lives. 

By Alan Spector

In my last post, I opened up a conversation about “practicing retirement.”  Do you want a great example?  Here’s one I know of.  If you have others, feel free to comment.

I have a high school classmate—OK, since you asked—University City Class of 1964.  His name is Harold Sanger, and he happens to be the Mayor of Clayton.  That’s only a part of what he’s doing in retirement, but it’s a very important part; both for him and for the community.

So what does that have do to with practicing retirement?  After beginning his working career in a number of management positions at Chrysler, Harold moved on to co-own and run a local wholesale distributor of flooring and ceramic tile products for 32 years.  In 2002, the family sold the business, and he continued to help there, until he officially retired in March, 2010. 

During a two-year period of asking himself, “What am I going to do today?” and not always finding an answer, Harold realized that the then current mayor of Clayton was needing to move on because of term limits.  After a deep conversation involving all members of the family, Harold and his wife, Diane, decided that he/they should run for Mayor.  It didn’t hurt that Diane was insightful enough to tell Harold that it would be good for him to have a meaningful reason to “get out of the house.”

St. Louis Ballet ad

Again, what does this have to do with practicing retirement?  Well, despite having a 60+ hour per week job running the flooring and tile company, Harold had also spent nearly three decades in Clayton city government.  Starting in the PTO at the kids’ elementary school, Harold was asked over the course of time to be on the city’s Board of Adjustments (six years), to run for Alderman (three terms; nine years), and to chair the Planning, Zoning, and Architectural Review Board (ten years).  During his tenure in these roles, Harold learned that he was passionate about the city of Clayton and about helping make it a better place for his family and others to live.

Harold Sanger was perfectly designed to run for and be the Mayor of Clayton in retirement.  He had practiced and determined what he loved to do.  Then in retirement, when the opportunity arose, he was ready to pursue his passion.  

Oh, and did I mention Harold is from the University City High School Class of 1964?