Retiring at 100, Full of Life's Lessons

Arthur Winston, right, and Eric Anthony Givens, his great grand-nephew.

hide captionArthur Winston, right, and Eric Anthony Givens, his great grand-nephew.

StoryCorps

Last week, Arthur Winston reached two milestones. He turned 100 years old. And he retired from the job he held for more than 70 years. In that time, he missed just one day of work.

Winston on Modern Life

  • Junk Food: "Tastes good. But I don't fool with it."
  • Viagra: "Don't worry about things you can't do."
  • Cell phones: "I don't need nobody to keep up with me that tight all day and night."

Winston had been maintaining buses at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority. Asked why he stuck with the work, Winston's answer starts with a simple idea: "Well, I like my job."

In 1997, President Clinton presented Winston with a congressional citation naming him the "Employee of the Century." A Los Angeles bus terminal now bears his name.

In an interview session with his great-grandnephew, Eric Anthony Givens, a few days before his retirement, Winston offered his views on everything from work to the current obsession with fighting age — including Viagra.

And in dispensing advice, Winston sounds like a man who has learned the value of a dollar: "Credit-card interest is killing you. People don't understand that."

Despite the decades he has spent working, Winston says he has lived a full life, traveling across America and Europe — and he has few remaining goals for his retirement years. "You can't wait 'til 99 to do hardly anything," he said.

Still, Winston says he pictures an active retirement. Among his plans: To do some volunteer work at centers for senior citizens.

StoryCorps is the oral history project traveling the country collecting stories of everyday America. The interviews are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. And excerpts are played on Morning Edition each Friday.

A Sad Addendum

Two weeks after his interview aired, Arthur Winston passed away. On Thursday, April 13, Winston died of congestive heart failure as he slept in his South Los Angeles home. Our thoughts are with Mr. Winston's family. Below is a letter from his great grand-nephew, Eric Anthony Givens.

Dear StoryCorps,

Thanks to you and all the folks that have expressed their concern. We all feel very fortunate to have known my uncle Arthur and all of his siblings. They have made a very positive and lasting impression on all that knew them.

I grew up like so many other Americans learning U.S. history in the classroom. However, we had something so special in uncle Arthur and his parents/siblings. We got to experience a living history lesson that spans back to 1844 that I know of. I feel so special to be part of his legacy.

He will be greatly missed and I'm very glad that he was spared a great deal of suffering in these past three weeks of life. Please thank all those well-wishers and feel free to share this message if you see fit. There is nothing better than a sweet elderly person. If anyone of you out there is blessed enough to know someone 80,90,100+ years old cherish them, love them and learn all that you can so you can love someone else. Uncle Arthur definitely believed in helping others whenever he could and never complaining about things that you just can't change. Just focus on the things you can.

Sincerely,

Eric

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