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Stay in the Game: Make a Difference

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I was, and am, an unabashed fan of Andy Rooney, who died last year at age 92. I’m writing this not as a memorial to him, but as a challenge to myself – and you. He is one of a number of people who stayed in the game up to the last possible moment and kept using his skills to make a difference.

Andy was best known for his thirty three years of homespun commentaries on CBS 60 Minutes, but his career blossomed many years earlier. After several years in the army on the staff of Stars and Stripes, he entered television shortly after World War II, writing material for entertainers like Arthur Godfrey, Victor Borge, Herb Shriner, Sam Levenson and Garry Moore. Beginning in 1962, he had a six-year association with the CBS News correspondent Harry Reasoner, who narrated a series of Everyman essays written by Mr. Rooney.

He rivals Yogi Berra (“It’s like deja vu all over again”,  “We made too many wrong mistakes.”  “You can observe a lot just by watching”, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore", with quotable quotes.  Rooney has stated, “I don’t like any music I can’t hum”, “there are more beauty parlors than there are beauties,” and , “if dogs could talk, it would take the fun out of owning one.”

Another of my favorites who stayed in the game was Mike Wallace, who died recently at age 93. He was best known as an investigative reporter who interviewed the famous and controversial. He didn't just interview people. He interrogated them. He cross-examined them. He gave them nervous fits.  Until he was slowed by heart surgery as he neared his 90th birthday in 2008, Wallace continued making news, doing 60 Minutes interviews with such subjects as Jack Kevorkian and Roger Clemens. He stayed in the game and continued to use his skills to make a difference.
 
Wallace, whose career spanned 60 years, said then that he had long vowed to retire "when my toes turn up" and "they're just beginning to curl a trifle. It's become apparent to me that my eyes and ears, among other appurtenances, aren't quite what they used to be."  But the inspiring thing to me is that he stayed in the game long after most people would have retired, and he, and others like him, declare that it is the love of the game that kept them living, enjoying life and making a difference.
 
Another hero of mine, Jack LaLanne, passed last year at age 96.  His obsession with physical workouts and good nutrition brought him recognition as the founder of the modern physical fitness movement. Many of us fell under his spell and bought his exercise equipment and vegetable juicers, and many more followed his advice and began exercising and taking nutrition seriously. Well into his 90s he said, “I can’t die. It would ruin my image.” He inspired me by staying in the game, promoting his juicer well into his nineties, while looking and acting years younger and continuing to inspire and make a difference.  

I’m with Alan Alda, who told me recently that he wanted to live to be 106. If I can live with the energy and drive that Alan and other creative friends retain into their late senior years, I’ll stay in the game, and enjoy every moment of it. I’m convinced that good nutrition, including nutritional supplements and moderate exercise, will allow quality life beyond 100, and I hope my readers will join me.

Spencer Thornton, MD - Biosyntrx President