Doing something you love can keep you alive

Harold Fisher’s love affair with religious architecture began at the age of 15 when he earned $2 a day as an apprentice to a church architect.
Since then, he has designed nearly 500 majestic churches throughout the United States and has inspired worshippers of 50 different religious denominations.
“As a church architect, I believe it is crucially important to embody in the very structure and design of the church the agelessness of humanity’s dependence upon God,” says Fisher.
With these principles in mind, he finds satisfaction in creating beautiful churches, which he hopes will help draw people closer to their faith.
Frequently honoured for his work, Fisher is proudest of his very first project—the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Detroit.
This project encompassed an eight-acre complex, including a Georgian church, offices, a school, fellowship hall, a chapel, and a 300-square-foot glass-and-gold leaf window depicting Jesus and the Last Supper.
Fisher found his calling at age 15. Now 85 years later, this enthusiastic architect still works five days a week in a firm he founded and still owns.
And “since it’s my company, they can’t fire me,” says Fisher.
Last year at age 100, Fisher was honoured as “America’s Oldest Worker” by the Green Thumb, a national non-profit organization that provides job training and employment to seniors.
When asked how he felt to be recognized for still showing up to work at his age, he said, “I just kept on living, I love my work, I love designing. It’s kept me alive.”
He says he still wakes up every day with new ideas and that even after 85 years in the business, he’s still learning. “Your brain is like a muscle. If you don’t exercise it vigorously, it becomes weak.”
Fisher also keeps his body active with workouts at a health club, which he joined at age 70. He also walks a half-mile three days a week and recently took up yoga with one of his nine children, the oldest of whom is now 75.
“I’m only 100 and I’m on my way to 110 at least,” he says. “I’ve got two sons who are doctors who say, ‘You are always working, you are never sick, and you never complain. You will live to be 115.’”
As for retirement, he says, “If I would retire, what would I retire to? My work is my love. People who retire early die early.”
And as for older people, he comments, “If they have something that will keep them working, they don’t die of despair. You have to be interested in everything and keep busy.
“You have to have something to wake up for every day.”
So how about you, what are you interested in? What keeps you alive? What is your passion? What do you think about when you wake up in the morning?
It can be anything that excites you. Refurbishing a classic car. Writing your autobiography. Volunteering in a local thrift shop. Cleaning your closets and disposing of things.
Gardening. Raising chickens. Painting. Woodworking. Cooking and entertaining guests. Playing piano.
But whatever you choose, remember what Fisher said—“When you find something you love to do, it keeps you alive.”
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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