by Matthew Schaeffer
Many years after Hoover left the White House, he became a respected elder statesman. Hoover relished this role, giving advice to Democrats and Republicans alike as he entered his eighties. At this late stage of his life, Hoover came to be seen as a model of vigorous aging. Magazine articles were written praising his active lifestyle and agile mind. Even Joseph Pilates [yes that Pilates] sought to meet with Hoover to discuss fitness and aging. Hoover declined to take the meeting.
While it is said that no man is a hero to his valet, Hoover’s staff were the exception to this rule. They held the ‘Chief’ in high esteem. As Hoover entered his late eighties, his secretaries and staff were routinely amazed by his energy, focus, and productivity. Hoover had neither lost a step, nor slowed down. He had too much left to do—too many speeches to give, more books to write, more Boys’ Clubs to dedicate, and more fish to catch—to spend time comparing ills, chills and pills with age peers.
Hoover’s staff would celebrate Hoover’s latest birthday by tabulating his accomplishments for the past year. The compilation for July 31, 1958 lists: Hoover has four secretaries and one research assistant; he works seven days a week, fourteen hours a day; Hoover made nine major speeches and twenty-one minor speeches; he wrote 55,952 letters [not including birthday or Christmas greetings]; Hoover published one book, The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson; he served as President Eisenhower’s representative to the Brussels Exposition; he dedicated seven new Boys’ Clubs and one Hoover school; Hoover traveled 19,952 miles by air and over 3,000 miles by auto to attend these duties.
Hoover’s staff compiled similar lists for 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962. Each list grows more impressive as one realizes these were the actions of a man ages 85, 86, 87 and 88. We should all age in this manner.