The President's Report 2013 - Retirement Redefined


FranklinThough hastily-snapped, the photo Pat (Jones ’63) Franklin keeps as a memento of her volunteer work tutoring GED students in Akron, Ohio, is rich with stories.

There is the story behind the twenty-something tattoo-artist posed squarely in the center, standing tall and relaxed with the mortarboard fixed firmly on his head. Its tassel skims his shoulder several inches below the nickel-sized disc that pierces his earlobe. Below his throat, a hint of heavy ink peeks out from the V-neck opening of his graduation robe. His double-pierced lips form a smile and his eyes welcome the camera. He rests his arms on the shoulders of his comrades in achievement – his GED instructor on his right and Pat, his tutor, on his left. He draws them closer toward photo-center, making sure the shot includes the two women.

“Sweet-natured,” Pat recalls him.

The middle-aged instructor, short and round, brightens the happy occasion with red lipstick and costume jewelry. Her warm smile and twinkling eyes tell a story that is punctuated with relief. Though she has posed for such pictures before, she fought for this one. In the home stretch of the tattoo artist’s studies, with his GED certificate in sight, he nearly ended it all to follow the lure of immediate money and a romantic interest. The prospect of more bookwork paled in comparison to both, but the instructor relentlessly pursued him.

“She kept calling him to finish because he was so close,” Pat later explains. Persistence won.

GED Study Materials

And then there is Pat, the retired public schoolteacher who settled into a routine after her Greenville College days of instructing junior high and high school students in math and science. The comfortable pattern was predictable, year in and year out, right through to retirement. But hers is a story of surprise and a new calling after a full and rewarding career.

“I discovered later that I enjoyed working with adults and being a personal cheerleader for those struggling with unproductive lives. I am drawn to adults who often work at minimum wage, have children at home, and need the GED diploma to pursue better jobs and post-secondary training.”

Pat retired at age 70 only to embrace a new vocation – tutoring adults working toward their GEDs. She volunteers in a program that serves two counties. “We meet in a church basement located in a multi-ethnic, gang-infested neighborhood,” she explains. The work gives her a window into the lives of students challenged by distractions like alcoholism and the problems that accompany it – hardly the retirement many folks envision.

But it’s a retirement just right for Pat. Biblical instruction moves her to serve the poor and the city dweller. A Christ-follower, she is also moved at the prospect of using her time and abilities to point others toward God’s kingdom. That story too, can be found in the humble photo of the tattoo artist on GED graduation day.

Photo by @Deb Stgo.

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