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Our lives are the result of the things that happen to us and the choices we make. For Joanne and Harry Wilber, circumstances brought them to choose Woodmen of the World, and they are delighted with the results.
After losing their jobs due to budget cuts in the late 2000s, the Tupper Lake, NY, couple decided to move the accessible portion of their retirement funds into a Woodmen of the World annuity. "It grew by leaps and bounds compared to before," Harry said. "It was the best thing we ever did."
The high school sweethearts took less demanding positions after decades in successful careers: Joanne in hospital administration and Harry managing property investments. Harry became semi-retired, due in part to a diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). They became heavily involved in their Woodmen of the World chapter, attending Christmas parties, bowling days and senior camp. Joanne became an officer and got the opportunity to apply her love of event planning, leading to memorable trips to Jurisdictional Conventions. "We've always had a good time and we're proud to be part of the company," Harry said.
Now fully retired, the Wilbers discussed what would come next with their Representative, Rick Reandeau. "He suggested we do something fun," Joanne said. "It's important to take care of your family, but you ought to enjoy some of the money you've saved."
When Harry transferred his retirement funds to Woodmen of the World annuities, Joanne's funds were not yet available. Joanne did not want to miss out on senior camp and other fun chapter activities, so they also purchased a whole life certificate. With their son, daughter and four grandchildren protected from financial burden at their deaths (which Joanne noted is no time soon), and their retirement funds secured in a strong vehicle, the couple has gained the financial freedom to explore uncharted territory.
The Wilbers decided to begin their new fun journey with Harry's passion – cars. "For 40 years, I've wanted to build my own hot rod," he said. "The opportunity was just never there." Joanne began researching online, and discovered the unprecedented Lambrecht auto auction taking place in Pierce, NE, in late September. Just five weeks later, they were on their way to a state they'd never visited.
When Reandeau learned of the Wilbers' plans, he again offered a helpful suggestion. "You've got to stop by the Home Office!" he told them. While at the Woodmen Tower in downtown Omaha, less than three hours from Pierce, Harry and Joanne toured the company museum, viewed the skyline from the Tower's 27th floor and met Woodmen of the World President and CEO Larry King. "We see your picture all the time. We feel like we know you!" Joanne told King.
Harry took the opportunity to express his gratitude to King. "Woodmen of the World is so family-oriented and focused on the community. I've been very impressed and told everybody what a great financial organization it is," he said.
While planning for the trip, the couple bought an auto hauler and Harry did a test run, picking up a car for his son in Indiana. Since they were in the area, the father and son also got to attend Hot Rod Drag Week. They soon learned driving a car hauler long distance was more expensive and inconvenient than having a car transported. Again circumstance had led Harry and Joanne to something new. With the decision to transport any cars they might buy, they took a cross-county train for the first time. "It was a neat experience, but I don't think we'll go back that way," Joanne said.
The Wilbers were part of history, as the auction brought more than 20,000 car collectors to the small Nebraska town of less than 2,000. The auction included nearly 500 classic cars, many of which had single-digit miles on the odometer. Prior to attending, Harry knew it would be a unique experience even if he didn't buy a vehicle.
In the end, the auction proved to be not only a great experience, but also a win. Harry now has two classic cars at home to work on. Joanne is excited about pursuing her dream, too – more planning and more traveling. "Our parents didn't get to do a lot of things," she said. "We're products of the 60s and we do it differently."
On the right track?
If you are like most of us, you contribute to a 401(k) through your employer. But are you setting aside enough to care for your loved ones, as well as to pursue new adventures after you retire? It's never too late to take control of your financial future by comparing rates and options to make sure you are on the right track for your desired path.
Woodmen of the World offers a number of options, including deferred fixed, immediate and variable annuities. Contact your Woodmen of the World Representative today to find out how to plan ahead so you can enjoy your retirement to the fullest.