He was the general manager of a cardboard manufacturing facility in Cowpens.
We are both car guys, but he was on another level from me. When we met, he had this beautiful new sky-blue Corvette Z-06, with more than 500 HP in that monster motor. What a beauty it was.
He even took me for a short ride, never exceeding the posted speed limit, of course.
He told me then he only had a few years of work left.
When the day arrived that he did retire, I knew Spartanburg was about to lose a valued and unique personality.
He and his beautiful bride of 46 years packed up and moved to Nashville. That was his home and, more importantly, where a daughter and his grandchildren lived.
I couldn’t blame him, but I hated losing him.
A few weeks ago I sent Jim a note just to say hello. He wrote a note back and on the other side was a picture of his 2016 Corvette, obviously on a race track, with numbers and decals all over it. He told me that he’d set the track record at the National Corvette Museum with it.
Jim is 72 years old, and has a deadly form of bone cancer that he’s currently fighting a mighty battle with, and winning.
He told me the treatment he’s taking for it, but he gives the credit for his health to God, saying that the good Lord must not be through with him yet.
How easy, and understandable, would it be for Jim to sit down, wait for the cancer to consume him, and call it a life?
After all, he’d been a professional race car driver and team owner as a younger man, he’d been a successful businessman later in life, he’d been married to the love of his life for most of his life, and he’d raised a beautiful family. What else did he have to prove?
But no, Jim knows how to do retirement the right way.
He’s spending his retirement doing what he likes, and with the full support of his family.
A comfortable retirement didn’t happen to Jim overnight.
He planned for it for years. He socked money away in his 401(k), he made other strategic investments and, toward the end of his working years, invested in a way that would help him preserve what he’d worked so hard to accumulate.
Jim knew what it would take to get ready for the day he no longer had to work. And he didn’t retire because he had to. His employer wanted him to stay on. But he knew when it was time.
And now, at 72, he is going out setting track records in a 650 HP Corvette!