I am a retiree, a veteran retiree. I am a regular, run of the mill kind of senior citizen. I was a management consultant in my career, I still work and teach part-time, but none of my prior experience had anything to do with retirement planning. My credentials for writing the book are based solely on personal retirement experience. The theory behind the book is simple: if you want medical advice, go to a doctor; if you want legal advice, go to an attorney; if you want retirement advice, you should go to a veteran retiree.
I was born and grew up in Dayton, OH but relocated to Atlanta in 1979. I was the only boy in a family of four. My mother was a single mom after my dad died in a tragic accident. She was an elementary school teacher. I was born about ten years before the Baby Boomer generation. I graduated from Chaminade High School, the University of Dayton with a B.S. in Business Administration, and an M.B.A. from Xavier University in Cincinnati. I started my career with a small systems company in Dayton that specialized in inventory control systems. The trademark became and remains a generic name in retailing. After selling the company, I became a management consultant and relocated to Atlanta to join a respected retail distribution and logistics consulting firm. The firm was eventually acquired by a Big 8 firm and I spent the rest of my career as a consulting partner working with some of the largest and best known retailers in the world. When I retired, the first time and learned I wasn't ready to retire, I became an interim executive working with emerging or troubled companies. My specialties were strategic planning and marketing. Along the way my avocation was education and I was, and continue to be, an Adjunct Professor in Business Administration and Marketing. I also continue to provide guidance and counseling for entrepreneurial companies.
I am married to my first and only wife, Patty, a Registered Nurse by profession and mother and grandmother extraordinaire by practice. We have five adult children, four boys and a girl, and five grandsons. Our oldest and youngest sons were born, unexpectedly, with multiple handicaps, including mental retardation, cerebral palsy and vision problems. We cared for both sons with the help of our other children for over 30 years in our home and learned a great deal about the challenges and blessings of caring for two of God's very special children. It has transformed our lives and we are blessed to have been involved for over four decades with various organizations that provide much needed services for all the special people of the world.
Our family was featured on the Phil Donahue Show many years ago in a program entitled The Exceptional Children. The title came from a comment we made to Phil when he asked us what it was like to care for not one, but two, handicapped sons. We responded that we never thought of our sons as being handicapped, a somewhat negative term. We think of them as being exceptional.
Although our lives have been defined by the experiences with our special sons, we take comfort in the fact that our sons have been responsible for causing countless other parents to thank God for the many things that we all tend to take for granted. No one knows the plight of the parents of special needs children better than the parents of these children. Many parents and sons and daughters have told us that our acceptance of God's will and our family's commitment to our special sons has been an inspiration and has caused them to put their challenges in perspective.
One of my motivations in writing the book was to include the need to go beyond traditional retirement planning and make provisions for our special needs sons after we are gone. It is a problem that faces all the parents of special needs children. There comes a time when a special child can no longer be cared for by aging parents. We were fortunate to have anticipated the problem and were able to have our sons placed in residential homes managed by United Cerebral Palsy Association where they receive professional care and compassionate attention from a dedicated staff on a 24/7 basis. During the day, our sons attend the DeKalb County, GA, Training Center Program that is dedicated to helping over 200 adult special needs citizens achieve their maximum potential. We feel comfortable that our sons will be well cared for after we are gone because our other children will continue to work with the organizations that have been a part of our lives for all these many years. Good luck on your retirement journey.
Bill Clarke, Author
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