At 102, Property Developer Named Oldest U.S.Worker

Ryan Mitchell
National Geographic News
September 30, 2003

Are you burned out at work? Low on energy? Counting the days until retirement? Before you throw in the towel, cash in the stock options, and buy that condo in the sun, consider the words of 102-year-old Russell Clark: "Continuing to work keeps the mind sharp and the body healthy, which aids in maintaining a positive attitude."

Clark, of Orem, Utah, would know. He still punches the figurative time clock every day as the manager of an industrial park and other real estate developments.

Experience Works, a national nonprofit that specializes in employment training and services for older workers, announced today that Russell Clark is "America's Oldest Worker" for 2003. "Dr. Clark is a wonderful role model for those who believe that age should not be a barrier to making significant contributions to society," said Andrea Wooten, president and CEO of Experience Works, which is based in Arlington, Virginia.

Every year, the organization recognizes the contributions older employees make to workplaces around the country with its Experience Works Prime Time Awards Program. Mature workers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico are honored.

"Experience Works believes that our older generation is a precious resource that we must nurture, cultivate, and tap," said Wooten. "By honoring older individuals and employers who have distinguished themselves as recipients of Experience Works' Prime Time Awards, we hope to encourage more employers to seek the talents and skills that older workers bring to the workplace."

Clark spent the bulk of his career as a physician and surgeon. He started his first practice in Chicago just before the Great Depression. In 1948, he moved to California, where his interest in real estate investment was sparked with his purchase of a clinic and 47-bed hospital in Artesia.

When he retired from medicine at 83, he became more involved in overseeing the real estate holdings he began acquiring in the 1950s—industrial and commercial sites, mobile home parks, and dairy farms among others.

He has recently sold some of his larger properties but is still involved in the management of several in Nevada and Utah. He jokes that although he's not shoveling coal to keep the furnaces going, he does keep busy supervising building maintenance, doing paperwork, and visiting with tenants. He travels monthly to Las Vegas to attend to business at his Tropical Industrial Center.

He attributes his longevity to a positive attitude, staying physically active, and being involved in the community. He plans to participate in his fourth relay marathon (a 4.4-mile leg—about seven kilometers) in October. In recent years, he has participated in missionary trips to Japan, Egypt, and Jordan with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis, a community service organization that helps children. He also volunteers in hospitals, convalescent homes, and schools. He finds his work with children to be particularly rewarding. "Kids want an adult to take the time to listen to them," he says.

Clark has no shortage of youngsters to whom he can listen. He has five children of his own and a progeny of 66 spread over four generations.

So if work has you down and you're desperately seeking the light at the end of the career tunnel, take the good doctor's advice: "Work for today and finish the job. Take the time to smell the roses out the window, not plan to build a garden."

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