Life Begins After 50

Many people turn fifty and start planning for retirement, while others look forward to fulfilling their life’s dreams.

Whether it’s focusing on a new career – or discovering a rewarding hobby – many successful late achievers find a craft or profession they enjoy, and are often rewarded with more financial security – and much less stress.

A few people who didn’t let age stand in their way:

Harland Sanders

Harland Sanders

Kentucky Fried Chicken
Founded KFC at 62
1890 – 1980 (age 90)

Harland Sanders owned a small gasoline station in Corbin, Kentucky, where he converted a portion of his living quarters at the station to serve customers chicken dishes that he prepared in a back room. As local popularity grew for his chicken, he moved to a motel restaurant and worked as the chef.

After the construction of Interstate 75 reduced customer traffic at the restaurant, in 1952 at age 62, Sanders started franchising Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants using $105 from his first Social Security check to fund visits to potential franchisees.

You got to like your work – because it is worthwhile, that it makes a difference.

– Harland Sanders

Sanders credits his accomplishments to enjoying what he does, saying “You got to like your work. You have got to like what you are doing, you have got to be doing something worthwhile so you can like it – because it is worthwhile, that it makes a difference.”

The next several years were an overwhelming success, and Sanders sold his Kentucky Fried Chicken corporation a dozen years later in 1964 for $2 million (almost $14 million in today’s dollars). Now a division of Yum! Brands, there are more than 14,000 KFC restaurants in 80 countries.

Orville Redenbacher

Orville Redenbacher

Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn
Co-founder of Orville Redenbacher’s Popcorn at 58
1907 – 1995 (age 88)

Orville Redenbacher spent most of his life in the agriculture industry, serving as a Farm Bureau extension agent in Indiana, and later at Princeton Farms in Princeton, Indiana.

Since his childhood Redenbacher had an obsession for developing the perfect popcorn hybrid.

Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn was founded by Orville Redenbacher and Charles F. Bowman in 1965 when Redenbacher was 58. To this day it is still the #1 selling brand of popcorn.

Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc

McDonald’s Corporation
Bought first McDonald’s franchise at 52
1902 – 1984 (age 82)

Ray Kroc was a milkshake mixer salesman, who traveled the country looking for opportunities to sell his machines to restaurants.

While visiting one of his customers in 1954, he decided to buy what was (at the time) a small-scale McDonald’s Corporation franchise. Over the next few decades, Kroc built it into the most successful fast food operation in the world, amassing a $500 million personal fortune in the process.

If you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.

– Ray Kroc

Ray Kroc credits his success to the love he had for his business, and putting a priority on his customers, saying “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”

Today, McDonald’s Corporation is the world’s largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, with 31,000 restaurants around the world, serving 47 million customers every day.

Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

B-List Actor to Successful Politician
California Governor at age 56
U.S. President at age 70
1911 – 2004 (age 93)

Ronald Reagan moved to Los Angeles, California in 1937, where he began a career in filmmaking and later television, making 52 films. Often described as a “B-List” actor, Reagan often joked, “the producers didn’t want them good, they wanted them Thursday.”

Reagan’s political aspirations were seen as early as 1947 when he was elected President of the Screen Actors Guild. More B-films followed until he joined the campaign of conservative presidential contender Barry Goldwater in 1964. Reagan stressed his belief in the importance of smaller government in a fundraising speech called “Time for Choosing” that helped catapult his political career and resulted in his nomination for Governor of California.

My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose.

– Ronald Reagan

During his political rise in troubling times, Reagan always maintained his considerable wit. Among his more notable political quotes: “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.” And what some might consider reminiscent today, “Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.”

Reagan also had an inspirational outlook on life: “My philosophy of life is that if we make up our mind what we are going to make of our lives, then work hard toward that goal, we never lose.”

From B-List actor to the Governor of California in 1967, 56-year-old Ronald Reagan wasted no time putting his philosophy of life to work. He was elected to two terms, then after leaving the Governor’s office in 1975, he would become the 40th President of the United States six years later at age 70.

Today, Ronald Reagan is generally regarded as one of the most popular American Presidents, with a legacy that often credits him with the peaceful end to the Cold War.

Grandma Moses

Grandma Moses

American Folk Artist
Started painting at age 78
1860 – 1961 (age 101)

Anna Mary Robertson Moses (better known as “Grandma Moses”) began painting in her seventies after abandoning a career in embroidery because of arthritis.

An art collector first discovered her paintings in a Hoosick Falls, New York drugstore window in 1938. In 1939, art dealer Otto Kallir exhibited some of her work in his Galerie Saint-Etienne in Manhattan. This brought her to the attention of collectors all over the world, and her paintings became highly sought after.

Painting’s not important. The important thing is keeping busy.

– Grandma Moses

While her paintings are what made her famous, she was also aware of what was truly important in her life: “Painting’s not important,” Grandma Moses once said, “The important thing is keeping busy.”

Grandma Moses was a prolific painter, generating over 3,600 canvasses in 3 decades. Before her fame, she would charge $2 for a small painting and $3 for a large. In November 2006, her work Sugaring Off sold at auction for $1.2 million.

Tina Turner

Tina Turner

Professional Singer
Oldest female artist to have a #1 single at age 44
Sellout 90-venue world concert tour at age 68
1939 – (age 69)

Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock) is a singer whose career has spanned more than 50 years.

Born in Nutbush, Tennessee, Tina’s career began in 1957 at the age of 18 when she became a vocalist for Ike Turner’s band in St. Louis. Mainstream success started rolling in during the early 1960s, when she recorded the song “A Fool in Love,” reaching #2 on the charts. There were a string of hits during that decade, including “Proud Mary,” “I Want to Take You Higher,” and “River Deep, Mountain High.”

I will never give in to old age until I become old.

– Tina Turner

The 1970s ushered in a decline in popularity for Tina Turner. Add to this, Tina’s personal life and marriage began to fail, as her then-husband Ike’s drug use led to increasingly erratic and physically abusive behavior. After leaving Ike in 1976, Tina’s career stalled until she released the single “What’s Love Got to Do with It” in 1984.

At age 44, she was the oldest female artist to have a number-one single.

Tina continued to put out the hits during the eighties and nineties, including “Simply the Best,” “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” “Nutbush City” and “Twenty Four Seven.”

In 2005, Tina Turner was recognized by the Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and was elected to join an elite group of entertainers.

If you are unhappy with anything … whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it.

Tina Turner

Through all of her struggles and success, Tina has remained independent – and secure about her age. In her book, I, Tina: My Life Story, she says “If you are unhappy with anything … whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

As far as aging, Tina considers it to be a mindset: “I will never give in to old age until I become old,” she says.

Tina Turner in Concert

At age 68, Tina recently sold out every worldwide venue for her “Tina: 50th Anniversary Tour” (90 shows in more than 15 countries). This was her first tour in eight years, since her record-breaking “Twenty Four Seven Tour.” For those lucky enough to see it, they know Tina is still “Simply the Best.”

What Was Their Secret?

They All Found Something They Enjoyed Doing

Late achievers not only enjoy their occupation, but the life experience of a person over fifty generally equips them with much more knowledge and wisdom than a person just starting out on their career path.

Many can use that edge to develop an opportunity that not only serves a need, but also provides a lot personal enjoyment and gratification in the process.

“Life Begins After 50” by Jake Easton, Editor for
Copyright (c) 2009 by Jake Easton. All rights reserved.