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After retiring in 2014, Wade Utsunomiya was ready to enjoy his own quality time. With six years under his belt, Wade shared some of the ways he has decided to spend that time, while offering advice for other recently retired adults.
“I would say to someone who has retired, ‘You deserve to be happy after working so long!’ Retirement is the perfect opportunity to reassess what makes you happy and take a fresh look at what you want to do for the rest of your life.”
When Wade first retired, he took time to reflect on the direction he wanted his life to take next. He realized he wanted to pursue the things that brought him happiness – and he has been following that path ever since. “I’m really cherishing relationships with friends, relatives, and other people in the community, and I’m doing stuff that I like to do,” he said. Whether it’s competitive sports, dancing, strengthening his community, or acting as an extra in TV shows like The Good Place and This Is Us, Wade has continued to pursue connection and fun throughout his retired years.
“It’s important to remember that having fun while aging can take adjustments. My advice is to try and be realistic about what your situation is and from there, you can decide what adjustments you need to make to enjoy the same things that you always enjoyed.”
Wade shared that doing the things he likes to do has sometimes required changes – but this allows him to pursue his interests no matter his age. He brought up his passion for sports as an example. As an avid basketball player, Wade realized he needed to find a group that shared his priorities of safety and fun during games. He explained, “I didn’t have to give up on playing basketball because I was getting older. Just no more dunking!” Wade also swims competitively and said he has made similar changes to continue racing in the pool.
Outside of COVID-19 times, you could still find Wade playing on the court or swimming in the pool during the day. At night, however, you might be more likely to find him on the dance floor, grooving to old-school rhythm and blues. Here too, he has learned to listen to what his body needs. “I can’t go to every dance, and I probably shouldn’t drop into the splits as often,” he chuckled. “But I love it as much as ever.”
“Part of retirement is finding ways to stay connected with the world. Look for what’s going on, learn what kind of activities there are in your community, and don’t be afraid to ask for help! Everybody needs help at some point.”
During retirement, Wade has found fulfillment from connecting with fellow older adults in Pasadena. “It’s good to get involved with a senior organization, and there are a lot of resources out there. You just have to look for what you need,” he said. He is a board member of the Pasadena Nikkei Seniors and is known for coordinating their widely-attended casino bus trips every other month. Wade has found support from this group as well, having made connections with other people his age who are often facing similar changes in their life.
“Sometimes keeping good relationships with relatives, friends, and community does require taking the time to make the call or send the email, but you have that time to work at it now. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to see how cherishing relationships with family and friends is really the most important thing.”
Even with the wide array of interests he is pursuing in his retired years, Wade says he celebrates the loved ones in his life as a central focus. He always makes time to bond with his daughter, Holly; his son, Warren; his daughter-in-law, Roxanne; and his grandson, Gabe. He also shared how he has been fortunate to find a friend, Margie, who makes his retired life complete. They enjoy a lot of the same things and each other’s company.
Wade also continues to honor the memory of Amy Utsunomiya, his late wife. After Amy passed away in 2003, Wade and his family created the “Amy Utsunomiya Memorial Youth Community Service Award” to honor youth who are following her legacy of service to the Pasadena Japanese American community. “Not only is this my way of recognizing Amy’s community involvement spirit, but I also believe it is encouraging community involvement for the future.”
With six years of retirement down and many more to come, Wade looks forward to spending even more time connecting, adapting, and doing what brings him happiness.
Check out some more pictures of Wade Utsunomiya:
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