|Ione and Bob Perry, real estate agent and occasional veterinarian, Omaha, Neb.
NEW YORK (MONEY Magazine) -
"The day I turned 65, I played bridge with Bill Gates. You know, you can have fun when you're older," says Ione.
The retirement of Dr. Robert Perry and his wife Ione is proof that if you keep a foot on the pedal, amazing things can happen -- even in your seventies and beyond.
The couple are stalwart citizens of Omaha, where Bob ran a successful animal hospital for nearly four decades. When he sold the hospital and retired in 1999, he helped wind down his practice and spent a lot of time on the tennis court. ("And getting bored," interjects Ione.)
But not for long. "All of a sudden," Bob explains, "there was an emergency."
A foot-and-mouth epidemic was decimating the cattle herd in the U.K., and beleaguered British agriculture authorities needed veterinarians from around the world to help. Perry worked seven days a week with fellow vets from dozens of countries, helping to get the problem under control.
Not long after, he pitched in again, in California, where a raging case of exotic Newcastle disease had broken out, posing a severe threat to the local poultry supply.
Ione, meanwhile, barely slowed down at all. When she retired from teaching high school home economics 23 years ago, she immediately started a fashion accessories business, making belts and scarves that were sold at Macy's in New York, among other retailers. Eventually she turned that business over to Goodwill Industries and gave traditional retirement a quick test drive. She now describes the experience in a single, six-letter word -- boring.
At age 70, she began selling real estate. Why real estate? Ione insists that it's not for the money (though she has sold a respectable seven houses this year).
"It's about the people," she says. "I like to see them find the right home. The ones I've helped are practically family now."
Selling real estate helps to keep her busy and out in the world, where -- bam! -- those amazing things can happen. Like the time, seven years ago, when she and her bridge partner entered a local tournament, only to look across the table at the opponent they'd drawn: Bill Gates, who'd come to town to visit his pal Warren Buffett.
Ione's side lost, but she still laughs over the photo that ran in all the papers: a beaming Ione in a smart blue suit looking, well, even a little richer than the two wealthiest men in America.
Read more of MONEY's special report: The Dream Retirement
Lee Eisenberg is the author of "The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life," to be published by Free Press in January 2006.