Older People Can Contribute to the Workplace

By Barbara PeroneBusinesswoman Blowing Out the Candles on Her Birthday Cake

These days, many people in their 40s may feel like certain companies don’t want to hire them because they’re just too old. And, the feeling is worse for those over 50. Sometimes they feel as though a few perspective employers may believe that they cannot learn quickly enough to contribute to the workplace like their younger, high-tech counter parts.

Not all companies have this mindset, but, for the scant few that do, perhaps they should consider the list of major achievements made by a few famous people, categorized by some as too old.

  • Comedienne Lucille Ball was nearly 40 when her megahit television show, I Love Lucy, first aired on American television.
  • Eugene Polley was 40 when he invented The Flash-Matic, the wireless television remote control.
  • Writer/Comedian Larry David was 41 years old when he began writing 62 episodes of Seinfeld, one of the most successful television situation comedies in television history.
  • American Chemist Stephanie Kwolek was 41 years old when she worked for DuPont and invented Kevlar, a light weight, strong-as-steel substance used in bulletproof vests.
  • Physicist Albert Einstein was 42 years old when he received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his explanation of photoelectric effect.
  • Ruth Handler, former president of Mattel, Inc., was 43 years old when she launched her 11-inch Barbie doll at the American International Toy Fair.
  • Famed American Inventor Thomas Alva Edison was 44 years old when he invented and patented the motion picture camera.
  • French car designer Louis Reard was 49 when he invented the first tiny, two-pieced, women’s bathing suit called the bikini, named after Bikini Atoll in the North Pacific, where the United States (U.S.) Navy tested two atomic bombs.
  • Julia Child did not become a famous chef until she was 51 years old.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was 51 years old when he was elected 32nd president of the United States.
  • Abraham Lincoln was 51 years old when he became the 16th president of the United States.
  • A few years ago, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III was 51 years old when the airbus he piloted lost engine power, forcing him to ditch his plane into the Hudson River. The captain and his crew, who ranged in age from 51 to 58, safely evacuated all 155 passengers from the airliner.
  • Mahatma Gandhi was 52 when he assumed leadership of the Indian National Congress and helped ease poverty, promote women’s rights, and end untouchability in India.
  • Pablo Picasso was 56 years old when he painted Guernia, one of his more famous works of art.
  • George Washington was 57 years old when he became the 1st American president.
  • Winston Churchill was 65 years old when he became prime minister of Great Britain.
  • Jazz musician Miles Davis was still recording at age 65.
  • Noah Webster was 66 when he finished the American Dictionary of English Language.
  • French President Charles de Gaulle made a political comeback when he was 68.
  • Mick Jagger, 70, lead vocalist of The Rolling Stones, is still performing at rock concerts.
  • Casey Stengel was 71 when he began managing The New York Mets.
  • American singer-song writer Ray Charles was still performing at age 73.
  • Larry King was 73 years old when he celebrated his 50th year in broadcasting.
  • Test Pilot Chuck Yeagar was 74 when he reenacted the time he broke the sound barrier in 1947.
  • Astronaut John Glenn was 77 when he became the oldest human being to go into space while participating in a study that showed how space flight affected older adults.
  • Grandma Moses, a.k.a., Anna Mary Robertson, was 77 when she began painting; she continued working until she was 101.
  • Actress Jessica Tandy was 80 when she received an Oscar for her portrayal of Miss Daisy in the hit film Driving Miss Daisy.
  • Comedienne Phyllis Diller was 80 years old when she performed the voice over role as queen of the ants in the Disney/Pixar animated movie A Bug’s Life.
  • Comedian George Burns was 81 years old when he played the role of God in the movie Oh, God! Burns continued entertaining audiences until shortly before his death at age 100.
  • Comedian Bob Hope was 91 years old when he finally retired from show business. Like Burns, Hope also lived to be 100.

Finally, he’s not famous, but, 104 year-old Kansas native, Ralph Waldo McBurney, still operates a honey business, and is on record as being the oldest living worker in America. He even wrote a self-published book entitled, My First 100 Years.

So, it would appear that age may not really be a limiting factor when it comes to one’s ability to do one’s job and do it well into one’s golden years.

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