Senior Success Stories: Career Achievements at 50 and Beyond

Senior Success Stories: Career Achievements at 50 and Beyond

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Many people feel as though their career trajectories are infinitely linear. Successes later in life are often attributed to accomplishments and smart decisions made in the past. This, however, is not always the case. Many adults only hit their stride in their 40s, 50s, 60s, or 70s. Oftentimes these successes arrive after years of disappointments or unfulfilling work in other fields.

If you're feeling as though your career has hit a plateau, don't despair! Take note of these incredible senior success stories. You too can accomplish great things, even during your "golden years!"



Julia Child


Both amateur and professional chefs from around the world are familiar with Julia Child's name. This masterful cook is generally associated with her famous cooking shows and vast knowledge of French cuisine.

One would expect that Child was a whiz in the kitchen from a young age. This, however, couldn't be further from the truth. In her mid-30s, Child moved to France with her husband. It was here that she fell in love with French cuisine.

Though Child was motivated to learn how to cook flavorful French meals, she began from a place of little experience. For much of her adult life, she had been a drifter. She had worked in writing and publishing, but wasn't passionate about her job. When she arrived in France, she could barely cook. This now-famous chef was well into her 30s before she even learned what a shallot was! In addition to learning how to cook, Child needed to learn how to speak French. At the time of her arrival, she had very little knowledge of the language.

Despite the many obstacles she faced, Child persevered. After years of rejections, she finally succeeded in publishing her now-famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. At 51, Child finally had her breakthrough with her PBS cooking show The French Chef. Though it took years of effort and a major career change, Julia Child finally discovered her calling.



Colonel Sanders


Harland David Sanders spent his early years working in a variety of different fields. At the time, no one could have guessed that this young man, who was at times a farmer, an insurance salesman, and a steamboat pilot, would later become a recognizable figure around the world.

At the age of forty, Sanders opened a small service station. He began selling fried chicken dinners to his customers, who loved his cooking. Unfortunately, in the mid-1950s, Interstate 75 was built, directing traffic away from Sanders' restaurant. Always an optimist, Sanders decided to make the best of the situation. Sanders traveled across the country, divulging his recipe and frying technique to other restauranteurs. Sanders allowed other restaurants to use his recipe and likeness in exchange for a small sales commission. By the 1960s, a number of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants had opened across the country. At the age of 74, Sanders sold his restaurant to a group of investors for a whopping $2 million.

Though Sanders himself passed away in 1980, his legend lives on. Today, KFC restaurants are present in 118 countries worldwide. This larger-than-life fast food entrepreneur will certainly be remembered for decades to come.



Grandma Moses


Anna Mary Robertson Moses is one of the most famous American painters of the 20th century. Despite her talent and fame, this renowned artist only began painting at the age of 76, when her arthritic hands prevented her from making embroidery.

Though Moses had worked on farms and as a housekeeper for most of her life, she found that she couldn't spend her retirement in leisure. Despite having no formal art training and very little formal education, Moses' natural talent made her work an incredible success.

In 1938, an art collector passed through Moses' town. Spotting her impressive paintings on display in a local drug store, he decided to purchase them all. History was made when Moses' art was displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The paintings, which Moses had once sold for $3 to $5, now began selling for thousands of dollars apiece.

In the three decades that followed, Grandma Moses produced a prolific portfolio of work. By the time she passed away at the age of 101, she had generated over 1,500 iconic paintings.

Grandma Moses' work certainly proves that age is just a number. Her nostalgic folk landscapes continue to be admired to this very day.



Other notable success stories include:


Teiichi Igarashi, a lumberjack who conquered Mt. Fuji at the age of 99


Harry Bernstein, who began writing his first published work, The Invisible Wall, at the age of 93. His book was published when he was 96. Bernstein's second book was published at 97 and his third at the age of 99. A fourth title was released posthumously following his death at the age of 101.


Nola Ochs, who holds the world record for graduating from college at the age of 95. Ochs received a master's degree at the age of 98, breaking another world record. At the age of 100, Ochs was pursuing an M.A. and working as a graduate teaching assistant at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.


Despite challenges, setbacks, and obstacles, these now-famous individuals were able to achieve great successes later in life. With a lot of passion and perseverance, anyone can accomplish great things, regardless of their age.


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Editor, 09/24/2015