Atlas Clients TV and Lou Ann began their retirement together when an unexpected life event changed their plans. This is the story about changed plans and living your life with others in mind.
Tell us a little bit about your story.
I was born and raised in Dallas. In fact, when my parents were ready to move, my wife, Lou Ann, and I purchased their home from them and raised our five children in the same house where I grew up. I went to college at Spring Hill, in Mobile, Alabama and then went into the Army for three years, including a tour in Vietnam.
When I came home, I decided to sell insurance with my brother. After a few years, we decided to focus on a new concept called structured settlements which used annuities to settle personal injury claims. We helped that idea grow into a national association of structured settlement brokers.
I retired in 2008, when we sold the practice.
What was your initial plan for retirement?
Well, good question. I always say, ‘If you want to make God laugh, you tell Him your plan.’ I went into retirement with the vision of travelling with Lou Ann, playing some golf, doing a lot of reading - things that I had wanted to do for a long time, but my plans changed. Unfortunately, Lou Ann developed dementia, which eventually went into to Alzheimer's, and so all of sudden, my retirement goals really did change, and I'm glad that they did.
My thought process changed from travel and wanting to play golf more to wanting to be an example for our five children and for our grandchildren as to how best to live their lives following in our footsteps.
What was it like to transition from business life to a life completely devoted to family?
When I was working every day in business, I was making decisions according to my principles. My personal life was lived out of those same ideals. I don’t think there should be any difference in your personal life and your business life. So for me, my personal life and business life were basically one in the same. That made my transition very smooth.
In what other ways have your principles affected your retirement?
I had a few philanthropic goals. During my years in business, I did a lot of volunteer work. I wanted to continue that in my retirement years as best I could.
First, I set up a scholarship program at Spring Hill College to provide four students at Spring Hill with partial scholarships.
One of my volunteering projects was to serve on the board of the Catholic Foundation here in Dallas and I wanted to continue to contribute to that foundation. To do that, I made the Catholic Foundation the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, so that, upon our death, we would make a meaningful donation to the Catholic Foundation.
As we progressed in retirement, I realized that there may be more resources after Lou Ann and I pass away. I have been working with the Catholic Foundation to set up what they call a donor-advised fund that they will manage upon our death. We will put up certain guidelines as to how we want those funds to be distributed.
Your retirement plans are focused on serving other people. Were you always involved with such large philanthropic endeavors?
Not really. I didn’t intend to do big things. I was raised by my parents to help others as best you could, but as we were raising our five children, we did not have a lot of resources left over. We made smaller charitable contributions as we were raising our family. We did what we could, and it always seemed that when we gave, there was always still enough left over to feed everybody, give everybody clothes, move them onto school and college and all of the normal things.
It wasn't until most of them were through college that we began to realize that maybe there would be resources available beyond what the children needed. Later, when I thought about the future, I wanted to set an example for our children, and then the grandchildren, that giving is a worthwhile goal to have.
Are there any lessons from your journey you could share with us?
[minti_pullquote align="right"]If you just keep on plugging away everything you do will impact your future. - T.V. [/minti_pullquote]
Two things stand out to me the most.
First, don't take things too seriously because situations frequently won't turn out the way that you anticipated. If you get too focused on things working out just the way you want, you’ll miss the good stuff that’s happening.
Second, always do the best that you can do. My dad would always say, "Keep your nose to the grindstone. Keep working. Keep working." You might not know how things are going to work out, but if you just keep on plugging away everything you do will impact your future.
Is there anything you would advise people to never do?
I would say, don't cut corners. Do everything the proper way and keep on moving down the road. If you take a short cut, you often wind up having to double back on your path to do it the right way. Life is too short for rework.
Is there anything people should know about philanthropic pursuits that you've learned?
It's easier to do it than you'd think. If you are in a position where you are able to share with other people, you can get help figuring out where to give to organizations that match your principles and ideals. It’s actually very simple. If you decide to get personally involved, you might not just help other people, it might change you too.
Any final bits of wisdom you've picked up over the years?
Surround yourself with people who have similar goals. If you rub shoulders with people throughout your career and personal life who have similar ideals, you can trust each other’s advice and create relationships that help a much broader group of people.
When you know what matters most, you can accomplish so much more than you realize.
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