Meet Ira Starks
Ira Starks started her City career in 1987 as a Parking Enforcement Officer employed with Transportation. Before City employment, she worked for the California State Disability Dept.
Ira migrated to Los Angeles from Asbury Park, N.J. as a young adult. As a child, she hated the cold winters in New Jersey and fled the snow for sunny Southern California. She left her eight brothers and sisters behind; all have relocated to various parts of the country with one sister living here in the Los Angeles area. “I love California and will never leave!,” she says. “Although as a young adult, I once wrote the Italian government requesting to live there!”
When she made up her mind to retire, Ira was already prepared to enjoy this new chapter.
Ira is definitely a Retiree on the Move, as she spends her days with many activities and hobbies. Her motto is “enjoy life.” Her most loved activity is thrift-store shopping. She started as a little girl going to shops with her mother. Ira says about 90 percent of her wardrobe consists of items she’s picked up from thrift stores. She has found many great deals and treasures at a nominal price. Many of the items she’s purchased still had the price tags on them. She says thrift shopping is a good investment, but it takes time to find the exact item you’re looking for and patience sorting through things.
She is so good with thrift shopping that friends have given her lists of things to find for them. Being retired has given her more time to enjoy hopping from store to store. An added advantage is when it gets too hot in her home, she can go to a thrift store with air conditioning to cool off! A win-win.
Her second most loved retirement activity is traveling. When friends ask where she has traveled, they quickly reverse the question to, “Where have you not traveled?” Ira is excited about her planned trip to Dubai and Egypt next year and hopes traveling will be back to normal by then. Ira’s list of travels include Thailand, Dubai, India, Rome, Pompei, Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Paris, the Netherlands, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Mazatlán, and Canada. Her goal is to plan and experience a new destination every year.
In retirement, Ira has become active with LACERS Well and RLACEI, and she attends meetings of Local 721. She is a season-ticket holder with the Kirk Douglas Theatre and the Ahmanson Theatre, where she attended plays and concerts regularly before the pandemic. She also has a membership with the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens Center.
What are your words of wisdom for those about to retire?
“Retirement is the best-kept secret. I always looked forward to retirement.” Ira recommends that you “make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the time, and do it. My motto is: enjoy life.
“Most ladies seem to fall right into retirement with ease by shopping, enjoying their grandkids and hanging out with other ladies. Men on the other hand call me and ask what do I do in retirement. I tell them to think about what they want to do. There are so many activities available, for instance; fishing, golfing, tennis visiting museums. Go out and enjoy.”
What was the smartest thing you did to prepare for retirement?
“I made some not-so-smart mistakes. But I am very pleased to be retired and enjoying life.”
What do you miss about your years of service with the City?
“I loved directing traffic and was exceptionally good at it. When officials and dignitaries came to town, I was called to duty and happy. However, I did not enjoy writing tickets. I was horrible. I was so stressed, I would cry. I just couldn’t find parking violations like the other Officers!”
If you could change anything about retired life, what would it be?
“A bigger check! Other than that, I am as happy as I can be.”
Since the shelter-in-place order during COVID-19, how has life changed for you?
“I try to get out the house and go somewhere every day while social distancing. I have more phone conversations and watch more TV programs. I email and use my computer more. I hate wearing a mask – but I do!
“I used to go to the spa once a month with a group of ladies and had so many more activities that I am unable to do now. I still take walks and have some limited social activities, but I am never bored.