"I never use that word, retire"

The inspirational trait B.B. King and a nurse in Tacoma, Wash., have in common.

B.B. King, one of America's most revered blues legends and renowned guitarists, never gave up his love for music and performing, even through his advancing age. Mr. King died in his sleep Thursday at his home in Las Vegas at the age of 89, according to the New York Times.  

Mr. King had his first taste of fame in the 1940s, around the time he picked up the name B.B., which stood for Blues Boy. One of his first recordings hit the top of the rhythm and blues charts in 1951, and after that, there was no turning back. Mr. King played 342 "one-night-stand" performances in 1956 and anywhere between 200 and 300 shows per year for the next 50 years, garnering international acclaim, according to the Times.

"Mr. King married country blues to big-city rhythms and created a sound instantly recognizable to millions: A stinging guitar with a shimmering vibrato, notes that coiled and leapt like an animal and a voice that groaned and bent with the weight of lust, longing and lost love," according to the Times on Mr. King's unique sound.

Mr. King was "married" to the greatest love of his life, his guitar, and didn't stop performing until 2014. In his trademark tale, Mr. King was performing at a dance hall in the early 1950s when two men knocked over a kerosene stove during a fight. Mr. King ran out of the burning building, but ran back inside to rescue his $30 guitar. After learning the fight was about a woman named Lucille, Mr. King called all of his guitars "Lucille" for the rest of his life.

Mr. King's commitment and passion for his art is only truly understood by just a handful of professionals across different industries. Few people remain active in their jobs for their entire lifetime, driven by the intrinsic satisfaction their work brings them.

While every leader need not strive to work into old age — hard-working people deserve retirement! — those who show a lifetime of commitment to their job and the mission that job stands for deserve recognition. It is important to approach each day on the job — whether at age 40 or age 80 — with the same enthusiasm and determination.

Bill Considine, president and CEO of Akron (Ohio) Children's Hospital for 36 years, told Becker's Hospital Review how he approaches each day. "One of my main guiding principles for 36 years now has been to keep those promises alive. Not a day goes by that I don't think about [the hospital's promise], or the values that are part of the organization: Respect, trustworthiness, caring, fairness, responsibility and citizenship. Making sure my actions speak louder than words relative to keeping those promises alive, embracing those values and being a family care-centered organization is what is important to me."

Mr. Considine's long tenure is unique in healthcare, especially amid rising turnover and burnout. Another hospital worker made headlines this week for her own remarkable tenure. Like Mr. King, Florence "SeeSee" Rigney skipped out on retirement to continue doing what she loves.

Ms. Rigney, the oldest working nurse in the U.S., turned 90 this year, and her co-workers at MultiCare Tacoma (Wash.) General Hospital took her birthday last week as an opportunity to show her their gratitude and admiration for her dedication to her career.

Ms. Rigney's coworkers threw her a surprise party complete with a tiara, a sash and a letter from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, recognizing her decades of service, according to Today.com. Tacoma General Hospital's CEO and Ms. Rigney's children were also in attendance.

An OR nurse, Ms. Rigney has served her profession for nearly seven decades. She briefly considered retirement, taking a five-month trial run when she was 67, but eventually decided to return to work. Now she works two days a week at the hospital.

"She runs circles around all of us," Sheri Morris, assistant nurse manager, told Today.com. "She's a wealth of wisdom and knowledge, and we absolutely love her."

B.B. King, Ms. Rigney and Mr. Considine are or were fortunate to enjoy their work so much that they find no reason to leave just because they hit a certain age.

Those who could afford to retire but opt not to are fortunate. The people who buck expectations about abilities declining with age are rare but admirable in any profession.


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