“…. and to make gentle the life of this world.”

Good Morning Boomers,

Our latest story of ReInvention comes from Fran Larkin, author, speaker, caregiver, and purveyor of hope, inspiration, and practical advice.  Fran doesn’t think he started a business after retiring, at least not in the strictest sense of the word.  When we read his story, we found that a business does indeed exist within his activities.  Fran is in the business of helping others by sharing his experiences and his knowledge.  He may not be making a big pile of money, but he is making a big difference and that is a great legacy. 

 The ReInvention of Fran Larkin

I retired in December, 2004 after a 35 year career at IBM. I certainly did not want to go “quietly into the night.” For years I had planned out what I wanted to do in retirement. While some may do financial planning to get ready for retirement, an article in USA Today advised that 90% of people don’t do any planning for the emotional side of retirement.  Few plan what they are going to do in this “next phase of their lives” but I was ready. 

I immediately began writing “5 Words and Then Some, How to Succeed in This Big Game We Call Life”.  I wanted to share what I had learned in business and in life with high school and college graduates. The book was published in March, 2009 and is full of hope, inspiration and practical advice. It has opened many doors as I am often invited to speak to high schools and community groups.  

Through my own retirement planning and additional reading I have done, I developed a presentation called “The Emotional Side of Retirement.”  I also speak on this topic in an effort to help the 77 million baby boomers and other retirees put a plan in place to help them live a healthy, happy and meaningful next third of their lives. 

When I retired my mother had early stage Alzheimer’s but she got progressively worse and eventually had to go into a nursing home. When she died in September, 2007, I wanted to help other families who were going through this.  I developed a presentation called “Alzheimer’s Lessons Learned” which is based upon what I and my two sisters went through.  I speak on this topic with individuals and within the larger community and joined a local Support Group where I try to help and give advice to others dealing with this devastating disease. 

We all take a lot out of life and I believe we have both an obligation and a responsibility to give something back to our communities. I joined Pennies for Poverty, 2Cents4Change which is a local non-profit in Newburyport, MA.  We try to raise awareness, food, and money for those in need in our area. I speak about our mission to other groups in the community like The Lions and Rotary and Exchange Club. I also belong to the Chamber of Commerce where I share our mission during a monthly Eye Opener mixer.  I am seeking ways to expand the reach of Pennies for Poverty, 2Cents4Change into the other 350 towns in Massachusetts. 

Three years ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.  Exercising six days a week and watching what we eat sometimes isn’t enough – especially when you have a bad family history.  Diabetes contributed to my father’s death at 66 years of age. I have developed a talk on this too and hope to speak to community groups and work with the local hospital to start a Diabetes Support Group. 

One chapter of my book became not only a key part of my retirement presentation but also a separate presentation about visioning and setting your own values, mission, goals and strategies to achieve them. My next presentation is also in the works.  It will be about delighting your customers with the WOW factor.  Additional presentations based upon my many corporate experiences will follow.  

Our local Community Access TV-Port Media have filmed most of my presentations which have also been shown on our local educational TV station.  I have also loaded the links on my website so anyone can watch.  I basically speak on all of these topics for free although I have received a few honorariums.  Recently I joined Speakermatch.com in hopes of broadening my audience beyond our local area.           

One of my next projects is a memoir about growing up in the U.S. and Cape Cod in the 50’s and 60’s.  I hope to publish is next year as it’s about 75% completed.  While it may sound like my retirement is all about projects and giving back, my wife and I spend lots of time doing other things we love.  We kayak, bike, walk, hike, swim, snowshoe, visit family and friends, go out to eat, and explore our local town. I also took painting and drawing classes and have produced ten paintings with more to come. 

As you can see, I keep busy in this phase of my life called retirement. I hope it lasts at least as long as my work life did.  The key is to keep busy, stay healthy, and give back. In summary, I am trying to do in my retirement what the Greeks said many years ago and what Sen. Robert F. Kennedy echoed in 1968, “to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world.”    

Fran Larkin



2 Responses to ““…. and to make gentle the life of this world.””

  1. Grace Says:

    I love the fact that you have decided to feature inspirational boomers as a means of example to so many of the rest of us. Fran is leading a hugely productive that is balanced in so many ways. He is following his passions to help others, educating with his books, and doing the things he enjoys with his wife. It just doesn’t get much better than that. We boomers need to follow his lead.

  2. shellyscriba Says:


    Fran is an inspiration and doing what he loves to do. Our hope is that the millions of Baby Boomers who are not yet “there” will find the third phase of their lives to be as rewarding and as satisfying as Fran’s.

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