America's Outstanding Oldest Workers - 2011

Hedda Bolgar

Hedda Bolgar Bekker,102, was born on August 19, 1909 in Switzerland. She received her PhD in psychology at the University of Vienna, where she met Anna Freud. In 1938 on the day Hitler marched into Austria, Dr. Bolgar fled to the United States and completed postdoctoral work in Chicago. After her marriage she moved to Los Angeles, where she has lived since 1956.

In the 1970's Dr. Bolgar co-founded the Wright Institute of Los Angeles, a nonprofit mental health training and service center and co-founded the Los Angeles Institute and Society for Psycholanalytic Studies. The Hedda Bolgar Psychotherapy Clinic, part of the Wright Institute, offers affordable service to individuals with limited incomes.

Dr. Bolgar is dedicated to improving women's roles especially the role of poor women and women in underdeveloped countries. She says, "Women must be agents of their own lives. They must not be dependent on someone else to provide for them."

Hedda Bolgar at 2011 AOW event
Dr. Bolgar at the 2011 America's Outstanding Oldest Worker National Pres Club press conference in Washington, DC
Her philosophy of life is having a sense of being connected to everything in the universe: nature, people, animals and even trees. She looks at the future with ideas, hope and curiosity, but lives very much in the present and tries to be aware of the impermanence of things. She says that when you get to the age of 100 and over, wisdom comes from not being too attached to things and learning to live with complexity.

Dr. Bolgar currently sees patients from 16 to 20 hours a week. In addition to seeing patients, she gives lectures, appears in videos and contributes to articles and books. According to Dr. Bolgar, she is lucky. Her work makes every day of her life interesting and stimulating. Dr. Bolgar doesn't think about retiring, saying "Why should I? I love what I am doing. I get up each morning and meet with patients. And when things go well for them, I feel grateful and happy." 



Mazerine Wingate

Mazerine Wingate

When Mazerine Wingate began his new job as a custodian 40 years ago at the U. S. Post Office in Lexington Park, Maryland, he was at the age when most Americans are ready to retire. Today, at age 101, Mr. Wingate remains a very loyal and dedicated employee and believes that working keeps him going. He is in good heath and still drives to work, where he spends four hours a day, six days a week.

Mazerine Wingate speaks at 2011 AOW event
Mr. Wingate at the 2011 Outstanding Oldest Workers press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC

Born on September 20, 1910 in Lamar, S.C., Mr. Wingate was the great-grandson of slaves and his father was a sharecropper. After completing the sixth grade, he quit school to work on a farm. At the age of 18, he vowed to continue working but not in the fields. Over the years, he had various jobs including building roads during the Great Depression and working in maintenance for Duke University. Relocating to Maryland, he found work as a janitor for various businesses before going to work at the post office.

Mr. Wingate has lived to see both the effects of segregation and the election of Barack Obama, along with the election of 17 other presidents and two World Wars. His secret to a long life is not smoking, not drinking alcohol, attending church every Sunday and most importantly, eating good food like peas, cornbread and sweet potatoes. Or, it could be the result of an answered prayer - Mr. Wingate says he remembers asking the Lord to let him live a long time when he was a small boy. His secret to success in his career is 'be nice to people everyday'.

As you might expect, Mr. Wingate goes to work everyday on time, even in rain, sleet or snow and has no plans to retire. His job takes a lot of stamina, which may be why he is featured on YouTube as part of a research project investigating how walking speeds relate to longevity. He has a green thumb and continues to grow much of his own food. Mr. Wingate has been a deacon at the 1st Missionary Baptist Church for more than 20 years and is also the church treasurer. It's no surprise that he has received numerous oustanding service and achievement awards from an array of Congressional members and elected officials.

Cheryl Beauvais, acting Postmaster in Lexington Park, says Mr. Wingate is an inspiration to everyone. "He is truly amazing!" she said. "We are very proud and honored to have Mr. Wingate as a part of our postal family."


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