Retirement Stories: Whether dabbling in beer or diving into dog care, these retirees tap new passions

So what lies ahead when you retire? Maybe you want to travel or do something you’d dabbled in or something that is related to your career. Or maybe you go in another direction completely, using some of the skills gained during a previous career. In other words, there are lots of options.

Take Bruce Cozzens. When the long-time veterinarian left his practice, he already had something else on his plate as an investor in his sons’ brewery.

Cozzens and his sons Jeff, Stu and Matt, along with their friend John Lenzini, got together to launch the concern in early 2013.

Today, Schilling Beer Company in Littleton, New Hampshire (named for his sons’ maternal grandfather’s family), is renowned as one of the best breweries in the region. It’s won numerous accolades, including being named one of the country’s Top 20 Underrated Breweries by HopCulture and having many of its signature brews among the top 20 in the world according to Beer Rate magazine.

It also allowed its trademarked “Resilience” name to be used in part by Sierra Nevada Brewing for “Resilience Butte County Proud IPA.” Proceeds from nationwide sales of the beer were donated to the Sierra Nevada Camp Fire Relief Fund.

Though son Matt is not directly involved with the company, his finance degree and experience in the beer business were helpful in starting the company. And today he sells his brothers’ beer at 7 Monks in Traverse City, where he is co-owner.

“It’s been a real good gig for us. It’s my retirement job,” Cozzens said with a laugh. Though he said his involvement is minimal, it’s clear Bruce enjoys being part of a family business. His wife Kathy has maintained an interest as well: Her pumpkin beer jelly has been used in food and drinks at 7 Monks and its companion business, Low Bar.

 

Karen Puschel and Jack Segal met through their common careers as diplomats. They traveled the world separately and together, from global hotspots such as Afghanistan to the outposts of Siberia.

When Segal left the diplomatic corps in 2011, he turned to teaching. His wife and fellow diplomat was already living in Traverse City with their child Jehan.

“Shortly after we got here I put together a class for NMC on foreign policy. To my surprise, one of the attendees was (former) Governor Milliken,” he said.

Puschel began volunteering with the International Affairs Forum at Northwestern Michigan College and was soon joined by her husband as co-chair. The organization brings speakers connected to the world abroad to Traverse City where they speak to an audience, typically at Milliken Auditorium. At least, they did before the pandemic hit.

Last year the IAF hired Petoskey native Leila Hilal, a former NYC lawyer and Middle East peace facilitator, as its first full-time paid director. Segal continues to teach at NMC and Norwich University. After seven years with the IAF, Puschel actually feels like she’s just now entering retirement.

“For me, that was a full-time job,” she said.

She enjoyed the storytelling aspect so much that she pitched Interlochen Public Radio on a series of radio broadcasts, which she did for six months, again until the pandemic brought it to a halt.

“It was a lot of fun,” she said.

 

Like many other retirees, Kim and Donna Hillard of Glen Arbor wanted to travel … which they did for a while, until the pandemic halted such activities.

“We’ve gone to the UK and Ireland,” said Donna.

Kim had long had an interest in music, so he decided to take his downtime to create: Not music, but musical instruments, specifically acoustic guitars.

“It was a fantasy I had for some time. Then it came to a point … where I had the time,” he said. “My dad, brother, and son Dane play. I’ve taken lessons, but I’m a builder.”

He began researching the process and adapting and creating the tools necessary. That was the first year. The longtime woodworker then took another year to craft his first guitar. Since then he’s built three more guitars, three ukuleles and has now moved on to wooden flutes. Fellow luthier Bob DeKorne calls him “brilliant” and says Kim is the kind of person who will spend two weeks building a jig he needs to create a particular piece for the guitar.

Donna, however, has opted for something completely different. She retired as a vice president at Honor Bank after 35 years in the banking industry. Her mom had passed away, so when no one else in the family wanted her sewing machine, Donna took it.

“Mom sewed a lot, and I never took an interest. Kim took it and found the only guy in the world still making parts for it in Hawaii,” she said. “He fixed it and I started making quilts.”

But that only led to another passion. She went with some friends to a rug shop in Elk Rapids, and after learning how to do it herself, she was off and running. She’s now made some 55 rugs in less than two years, all of which she names.

“It’s fabric you can get at garage sales, not $9 a yard. The creation, colors, patterns – it’s something different every time,” she said. “When I’m done I post the pictures online.”

 

Dave Crockett always had a passion for dogs, even working part-time as a trainer. But it wasn’t until he retired from his full-time job with Charter/Spectrum and his wife Kathy left Ferris State University’s operation at the University Center that they were able to wiggle and wag the way they wanted to.

“I didn’t want to be a couch potato. I saw a need for a dog daycare and I wanted to get into training,” said Dave.

Kathy says they both wanted to own their own business in addition to loving dogs.

“We wanted to own our own business,” she said. “We both loved dogs.”

Wiggle Butts and Waggin’ Tails offers doggie day care, boarding and training. The two sought advice from SCORE and found land outside Cedar.

“We wanted to live onsite,” said Kathy. “Once we had a plan it took another year to find property.”

Business was good until the coronavirus closed things down. Now, since the shutdown was lifted, business has boomed so much so that Dave hasn’t been able to get the training side off the ground.

“When we did the open house, we had over 100 people show up,” he said. “There were cars all over. Then it grew and grew and grew.”

The entire operation is the two of them, though their daughter will step in occasionally to give them a break. They said they are not looking to hire, but if the growth keeps up they may be forced to reconsider.

“The first year we had 380 dogs in the database,” said Dave. “Now (in the second) it’s over 660.”

Kathy said the two make sure every dog gets attention.

“Everything is one-on-one,” she said. “We take the dogs out individually.”

Dave said part of his former job involved training employees, and he said there are differences.

“Dogs retain, humans not so much,” he said. “Dogs are happy to see you. People sometimes are not.”

 

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