Johnnie Bell could have retired a long time ago. At 93 years old, he is still going to work each day. He recently celebrated his 70th year of employment with the United States Postal Service, and Bell has spent his entire career serving Oklahoma City.
Times have certainly changed since the day when Bell was hired at 23. His starting pay was just $1.81 per hour. That humble beginning is a reflection of the man that so many people have gotten to know during his career.
Johnnie is one of those guys who is accurately described as a “man of few words.” When he does have something to say, people choose to listen.
“Thanks so much for this recognition,” he said during the celebration of his career. “This is just something I do because I enjoy doing it.”
They had some cake, shared a few laughs, and then Bell went back to sorting the mail.
Bell Joins an Elite Group of Employees Working for 70+ Years
Most people don’t work for 70 years or more, much less for the same employer. Some people don’t even live that long.
“He is truly a public servant,” said one of Bell’s coworkers, Julie Gosdin. “He has an opportunity every day to interact with customers, which he thoroughly enjoys.”
Willie Taft, another coworker, added that it was a great experience to be working with Bell. “Seventy years is a blessing,” he said.
Johnnie Bell joins a group of dedicated people like Sidney Richardson, who retired from a Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant in Gadsen, AL, in 2015 after working there for 72 years.
Although there is no definitive information on the average number of jobs an American holds over their lifetime or how long someone stays with one company, the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking a group of several thousand people in 1979. They found that between the ages of 18 to 48, they held an average of 11.7 jobs. []
The median number of years workers have with their current employer is roughly five years.
It’s not just guys who join this elite club. Elena Griffing celebrated 70 years of working for a San Francisco Bay Area hospital in 2016. When the New York Post interviewed her about this accomplishment, her attitude was the same as Bell’s and others who stay dedicated in this way. “I can’t wait to come to work every day,” she said. “I enjoy everything I can do to be of service… it’s the patient that counts.”
What Are the Keys to a Long Life and Career?
It’s not complicated. When people exercise, eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, avoid tobacco products, stimulate their brains, have social engagements, and manage stress, those choices have measurable effects on their lives.
“We’re always told to start saving for retirement when we’re young because it will compound and our investment will grow,” Dr. Schimpff said. “What I wrote about is the same message. If you start early, the benefits will compound over time.”
As more people live beyond the age of 65, research shows that our concern with aging should begin around the age of 30. It’s not a subject for just the elderly. The understanding is there that everyone should exercise and eat better, but there isn’t an answer as to why that is necessary.
Dr. Schimpff says that we can’t prevent every disease or stop unexpected circumstances, but we can talk about our health. Lifestyle changes are the one thing someone can do right now to improve their life.
It’s All About Getting into a Routine You Enjoy
Johnnie Bell knows his routine inside-out. Taft said, “For a guy that’s been here 70 years, he knows this job. It’s clockwork to him.”
Stephanie Fiordelisi also works with Bell in Oklahoma City. She says it is apparent that her coworker loves everyone. “He has a way of just being magic, and just drawing everyone together to where they just all felt like family. If there were more Johnnie Bells around, then the Postal Service would be a better place.”
“The world would be a better place because that’s just who he is,” Fiodelisi added. Bell has no plans to retire as of today.