Why This 99-Year-Old Real-Estate Agent Still Works Every Day

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March 15 2014 8:13 AM

Why This 99-Year-Old Real-Estate Agent Still Works Every Day

This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Alison Griswold Alison Griswold

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

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At 99, Stewart Wade is still punching the clock.

Courtesy of Stewart Wade

Real-estate agent Stewart Wade rises at 5:30 or 6 most mornings, swims 500-600 strokes in the Pacific, and then heads to work by 8 a.m.

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It's pretty impressive for anyone, but especially for a 99-year-old.

Wade, an employee of real-estate firm Coldwell Banker since 1999, says he is still working 20 or so hours a week because he just loves his job. "I've thought about [retiring], but what would I do?" he asks. "I enjoy real estate so much it would be hard to leave."

It's been a long time since Wade took his first job during high school in a local pharmacy. Back then, he explains, you didn't need a degree to be a pharmacist—you just had to spend enough time working under one and then pass an examination.

That was in the 1930s, and Wade first got into the real-estate business in the late 1960s. He knew right away that he had found the career for him. "It's the people you meet and the interaction with those people," he explains. "And then what happens afterward. Forty years later you go to the supermarket and someone walks up to you and says, 'You sold my father his house!'"

Today, Wade estimates he spends 90 percent of his time working from his home in Waimanalo, Hawaii. On a day-to-day basis, he calls and visits past clients, negotiates home sales, and shows properties. In his free time, he attends the local country club and also volunteers at the Boy Scouts and the YMCA. Wade believes a good attitude and regular exercise have helped him lead such a long and happy life. "Attitude is so important," he says. He also advises having clear-cut goals and realizing that there's more to life than money.

"To me, your health and body is more important than money, and I also think that your family and what you do for your family is more important than a lot of money," he notes.

Finally, for those people approaching retirement age (typically 65 to 70 in the U.S.), Wade says don't be afraid to keep going. In fact, his best years of work were recent ones.

"I made more money in my 80s than I ever did in the rest of my life," he says. "I was very healthy and very vigorous."

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