There is a saying that if you have a job doing what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Two remarkable ladies at Moldaw Residences are living by that, as they continue to do what they love well beyond the usual retirement age. Rosanne Leeson, age 84, and Jean Blackburn, who is in her 70s, are dedicated to their jobs and still loving their busy life schedules as they prove you are never too old to contribute positively to your community. Leeson works as a substitute librarian for Los Altos Public Library and has brought the library at Moldaw Residences up to a more professional standard as the head of the library committee there. Blackburn’s job as an administrator at the Lincoln Law School of San Jose involves a wide range of tasks. She’s the liaison for faculty and works with students while also helping with special projects and planning for the dean. While many often look forward to retirement, that is not the case for these ladies.
“I don’t want to just retire and become bored,” said Leeson. “I stay very busy and love what I’m able to do. I’d prefer to wear out rather than rust.”
Leeson’s degree was originally in music. She got a job as a clerk at a branch of the New York public library to make some money but after doing that for two years, realized she had fallen in love with that kind of work. She then went back to school and earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Columbia University and continued working. Leeson later moved to California and lived in Los Altos for 36 years. She shifted focus during what she calls her “m&m” stage of “marriage and motherhood” for a few years while her children were young. She continued going to the library, but to get books and take her kids rather than work. Once they were older, she started volunteering at the Los Altos Library and was encouraged to take the exam to become a full-time employee there, which she did. She worked as a Reference Librarian there until her unofficial retirement in 1994. She has remained a Substitute/Extra Help Librarian at Los Altos ever since. Additionally, she took on the role of head of the library committee at Moldaw a year ago “for fun.”
“I have always loved being surrounded by books and helping others find books they like,” said Leeson. “To help someone find a book and hear them come back later to tell me that it was a perfect pick – that is the best part of my job.”
When she is not working in a library, Leeson enjoys her active role as the vice president of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. She promotes and assists with Jewish genealogical and family historical research and study.
“I just love people, books and history,” said Leeson.
Fellow Moldaw resident, Jean Blackburn, was a practicing attorney for 22 years and taught part-time before she began working at Lincoln Law School. She is heavily involved on campus working three days a week, and therefore, holds other unofficial titles. Because of all the planning she does for the dean, he often refers to her as his “personal assistant.” But to both faculty and students around campus, she is known as “Dean Jean” based on all the credible advice and help she provides.
“I love the relationships and interactions I have with students and with the professors who are often practicing attorneys and judges,” said Blackburn. “Working with them keeps me in the loop and engaged socially.”
Lincoln Law School of San Jose is for students who need to take evening classes because most of them work. Blackburn says she can relate to these hardworking students since she went back to school and earned her law degree from Peninsula University School of Law, an evening law school in Mountain View, while her kids were in grade school.
“Everyone asks me about it, but I haven’t felt the need to retire just yet,” said Blackburn. “I have a flexible schedule, enjoy what I’m doing, love the people at work and still get to do what I enjoy outside of work like frequent travelling. I have the best of both worlds.”
Another activity Blackburn enjoys is hosting Rhodes Scholars and attending seminars through Elderhostel, Inc. as a leader of that organization. She also is an active member of Quota International, one of the oldest service organizations for women, and a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, Zeta Theta Chapter – an honorary Society of women educators.
“It is inspiring and encouraging to witness such strong and dedicated women like Rosanne and Jean as they stay active around our campus here at Moldaw,” said Miki Raver, lifestyles director at Moldaw Residences. “Their energetic lifestyles remind us all that age is just a number, and retirement is simply not for everyone.”
ABOUT MOLDAW RESIDENCES
Moldaw Residences is an innovative senior living community located at the 8.5 acre Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life, adjacent to the 130,000 square foot Oshman Family Jewish Community Center. As a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), Moldaw Residences enables older adults to age in place by providing independent living, assisted living and memory support. Opened in 2009, Moldaw Residences offers 193 maintenance free, spacious apartment homes and extensive social and cultural amenities. Affiliated with the Jewish Senior Living Group, it is open to all faiths, ethnicities, and racial background.For more information about Moldaw Residences of Palo Alto, visit www.moldaw.org or call (800) 873-9614.