Forever young

March 27, 1997

Retirement is down the road for 76-year-old Homewood at Williamsport resident


Staff Writer

Gladys Young is appropriately named.

Seventy-six years old, she has the energy and attitude of a much younger person. Young works at a demanding full-time job and has no immediate plans to retire. There is nothing retiring about her - not at work and not in life.

Young, a Homewood at Williamsport resident, is employed in the admissions department at National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Md. She started her job at the age of 58 following her divorce. She had worked 29 years at a job she enjoyed, but it didn't provide for her retirement.


New to computers when she began at NIH, Young says there was nothing to it once she learned. She works the 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. shift at the hospital, and has been evening supervisor for the last four years, a job that opened when a colleague, a friend, got married at the age of 76. Until that friend married and asked Young to stay part of the week in her newly vacant Chevy Chase, Md., home, Young made the after-midnight commute to and from Williamsport.

Most of Young's co-workers are in their early 40s, according to Jesse Ferguson, Young's supervisor at NIH. He says her appreciation for working and doing a good job is more intense and focused than what he sees in many employees today.

Ferguson admits to worrying about Young's solo cross-country drive last fall. A man who drives a Corvette, Ferguson was concerned about her traveling in her 1984 Volkswagen Scirocco with 140,000 miles and its original alternator.

Young doesn't worry. She quotes a saying: "To rest is to rust."

Constant motion

She has kept moving and has traveled to many parts of the world. She likes to visit ruins on her journeys and says she should have been an archaeologist. She once was annoyed when she climbed Egypt's Great Pyramid and was met by a man playing a transistor radio.

Her living room is filled with antiques - mostly Chinese - and rocks and items she has been collecting for more than 50 years. There are cases and stacks of books and magazines.

She says she plans to have her "cremains" placed in an antique brass Turkish water pot after she dies. She's not planning on using it soon.

"Every day I wake up, I'm thankful," Young says.

Young attributes her vitality to good genes. Her mother began working as a dressmaker at the age of 60 when her husband died. She didn't stop until she was 88 years old.

"The secret is taking each day as it comes," Young says.

And take them she will. Young plans more trips - domestic and foreign. She eventually wants to settle in the West, and she has yet to visit China.

"I have an idea if I retire - I'll just get in the car and go," she says.

Young has passed some of her adventurous spirit to her three children. They all own motorcycles. Tom Young is a corporate pilot and teaches aerobatics - stunt flying. He says his brother, Fred - the only one of the siblings with children - is perhaps the most settled. Elsie Smith, Young's 50-year old daughter, will compete in the "Iron Butt Rally," an 11-day, 1,000-plus-mile-a-day motorcycle event this summer.

Smith says she always thought it was neat that her mother traveled - pretty much by herself. She says Gladys Young was not someone who just takes a cruise and goes shopping. She learns the languages and cultures of the lands she visits.

Her stories inspired her children. She taught them that there's so much to see in this world.

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