Meet Russ Ewald
Russell Ewald worked for the City for 11 years and retired in 2010. During his tenure, he worked at Airports, LAPD and Rec and Parks.
In retirement, Russ enjoys tennis, watching sports and exercising to stay fit and healthy. During the first half of his retirement, he spent most of his time caring for his ailing parents. His mother suffered from dementia and his father had macular degeneration.
Russ has enjoyed traveling with his fiancé. His travels have taken him to the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Japan.
Russ enjoys his family and spends a lot of time with his sister and two nephews.
His retirement has given him a great opportunity to participate in the LACERS Well program. He has attended many wellness presentations; a Purpose workshop; walks and hikes; technology seminars; and outings to Descanso Gardens, the Arboretum, and the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens.
Russ is a “champion” (volunteer) with LACERS Well. He has organized a movie club; helped decorate a Rose Parade float; and joined a phone bank to call retirees age 80 and above to check on their safety and health during the pandemic and to inform them of free senior services available to them.
Russ is an active member of the YMCA. He enjoys the Jacuzzi there and loves to go swimming and play ping-pong. He also enjoys stretching and utilizing the weight machines.
Russ’ words of wisdom are: “Don’t trust caregivers. I had three to help care for my mother, and two of them stole from the house and the third ‘borrowed’ money that was never returned. Probably better to hire from an agency to get more trustworthy help.”
What was the smartest thing you did to prepare for retirement?
“I took the early retirement incentive and was able to get more money for my service time. I am glad I didn’t wait any longer because I had the opportunity to be there for my parents.”
What do you miss or don’t miss about your years of service to the City?
“I miss the camaraderie with fellow employees. Some in authority I don’t miss so much.”
As you reflect on your City career, would you have done anything differently?
“My suggestion is to put the welfare of your family and any pets ahead of anything else. I trusted someone with my dad’s dog that became mine and he was killed. I will never live that down. A Lhasa apso mix with Chihuahua, he always wanted to protect and be with me.
With the shelter-in-place order in effect, I was not able to go to the tennis courts, but now that the tennis courts are open again, I am playing tennis a few times a week. With no live sports on, I subscribed to Netflix and as a new subscriber I had a lot of movies and series, such at Narcos, to catch up on. As mentioned, I do volunteer work for LACERS Well. And, of course, there are always regular chores to do. I read books and read the daily newspaper and surf lots of Internet sites based on my interests. I miss going to the YMCA for stretching and using the Jacuzzi. I have now begun walking around the neighborhood and sometimes hiking just before sunset.
I am not involved with any group meetings. However, I do stay in contact with my sister and friends by texting and emails.
What do you miss most during this time?
“I miss everything a little, but probably going to the YMCA the most.”
Any words of wisdom as a retiree?
As caregiver for my parents, I took them out of the house and kept them active, recorded TV programs they enjoyed and took them to their grandchildren’s baseball games and much more. I found funding for them, such as caregiving money and free checkups and chiropractic therapy from the U.S. Veterans Affairs (my dad qualified as war vet) and home repair through the City of Los Angeles Housing Dept. I took my mother to a geriatric doctor at USC who prescribed a hospital bed for her and periodic physical therapist and nurse visits. I was always researching on the Internet or going to presentations to find ways to help them with their afflictions.
I would advocate that anybody who has the opportunity to care for their parents to take charge. My parents were wonderful to me, so you could say it was payback for me. My mission in caring for them was to not to have them exist but do what interested them, unlike assisted living where activities are generic and not customized to each person’s passions