PEQUOT LAKES - Eugene Kennedy sat at an outdoor table at Lakes Latte in Pequot Lakes dressed in suit and tie and with a fedora on his head.
Even at age 82, the idea of retirement is something Kennedy is still getting used to. He comes to Pequot Lakes every morning for coffee, is interested in genealogy, his church and the community. He collects post cards and sheet music and plays the piano.
"I came here in 1961 and then I worked a total of 30 years in insurance and I loved it," Kennedy said. "I'm a people person."
With seven children all going to private college, Kennedy said there wasn't retirement funding when he reached the typical age so he looked for something else he could do with his abilities. He turned to appraising.
"I loved it," he said. "I really did."
Eugene Kennedy and Malinda Johanneck of Johanneck Appraisals of Merrifield, stood outside the Jack Pine Center in Pequot Lakes, where Kennedy once had a business office. Kennedy sold his appraisal business to Johanneck last year. Brainerd Dispatch/Renee Richardson » Purchase reprints of this photo.
And last year he finally decided to retire and passed his business to appraiser Malinda Johanneck. Beyond enjoying working with people, Kennedy said one of the secrets to his success was working with competent women who made him look good.
"Mrs. Kennedy, my wife, is a gem," he said.
In the insurance business, Kennedy said he remembered celebrating in the office on the day he insured his first $100,000 home. Those values would of course rise to homes of more than $1 million. Kennedy even collaborated with Johanneck on a home appraised at $3.2 million in the Hackensack area.
"She has the vision for the big stuff," he said of Johanneck. "She's one of the most forward-looking appraisers in the entire area."
Johanneck, an appraiser since 1993, worked with Crow Wing County's assessor's office for 10 years. Even in the current turbulent economy, Johanneck said her business - Johanneck Appraisals in Merrifield - has done well. She said a side effect of the economy may be in weeding out the bad eggs, the people who thought they could be an appraiser without much work.
"It is my passion," Johanneck said of the work. "I love it. I live and die appraising. It's not work. I feel like I'm retired. I was able to keep four people full-time employed through this economy, which I feel is pretty good. I have good people that work for me and I feel that really helps."
Kennedy said in appraising there is so much detail that the work has to be done right from the beginning.
Kennedy worked in business since 1947 with 14 years in banking, 30 years in insurance and 16 years in appraising. He started Kennedy Appraisals in 1991.
"So I've truly worked a total of 60 years," he said. "I had the health because I'm no brain trust. I'm just an average John Doe."
Kennedy met Johanneck when she worked at the Crow Wing County assessor's office about 15 years ago. Johanneck worked in the county office for 10 years. She left in 2004 and started her own appraisal business. Johanneck has a number of appraisers who work for her in areas of residential, commercial, industrial and in consultation.
They were both active in the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers.
Eugene Kennedy, Pequot Lakes, said his love of work revolved around his enjoyment of working with people. Last year, at age 81, he decided to retire. Now Kennedy says he majors in grandparenting. Brainerd Dispatch/Renee Richardson » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Johanneck Appraisals is based in Merrifield. Johanneck said their personalities clicked. They bounced ideas off each other. They shared similar philosophies. And when Kennedy decided to really retire, he contacted Johanneck. Now he says he is majoring in grandparenting. He decided to sell his business to Johanneck last year.
"One of the things I told Eugene when he was ready to sell this last year, I didn't let him do it right away," Johanneck said. "Because I said, 'Eugene you can't just sell this cold turkey. This is your life. This is your passion. Let's just make it a more gradual thing and have you continue to take phone calls and talk to the people' because that's who he is."
Kennedy even missed the suit and tie after he retired.
"I enjoy people I truly do," he said. "And I try to remember something about each person."
As for the secret to longevity, Kennedy said: "Keep interested in life. You have to have a passion."
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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