In the U.S. Senate, South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond didn’t retire until hitting the century mark. Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia was the longest-serving senator when he died in office at 92 in 2010. At 89-years-old, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey is currently the oldest U.S. senator, and Ralph Hall of Texas who celebrates his 90th birthday in May is the oldest congressman.
Elsewhere in the world, plenty of elderly leaders are still on the job.
Raul Castro, who took the reins of Cuba from his brother Fidel in 2006, is now 81 and is expected to be named to a new five-year term as president. England’s Queen Elizabeth is 86. She shows no signs of handing over the throne any time soon to her 64-year-old son Charles, the Prince of Wales.
In the Arab world, Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, emir of Kuwait is 83 and Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz al-Saud, king of Saudi Arabia, is 88.
Some regular working stiffs also make the pope look like a youngster.
Take yogi Tao Porchon-Lynch of White Plains, N.Y. She’s still downward dogging and tree posing at the age of 93. Last year, Guinness World Records recognized her as the world’s oldest yoga teacher.
Then there’s Rose Syracuse Richardone, who retired last year at the age of 92 after working a record-breaking 73 years at Macy’s flagship store in New York City. And Loren Wade, the 101-year-old from Winfield, Kan., who continues to put in a full day’s work at the local Walmart as he has for the past 30 years.
Compared to Britain’s oldest worker on record, the pope is a youngster. The 104-year-old Buster Martin died in 2011 shortly after putting in his final shift as a van cleaner at a London Plumbing company and just three years after completing the London Marathon. Dr. Leila Denmark, of Atlanta, Ga., was widely acknowledged to be the oldest practicing physician. She saw patients until she was 103 but enjoyed more than a decade in retirement when she died at the age of 114 last year.
Still, give the pontiff credit where credit is due. He was the seventh oldest working pope in history according to reliable records reported on www.popes-and-papacy.com, a website that tracks papal data that’s been collected since 1400. Had he held on as head of the Catholic Church for just must two more years he would have overtaken 87-year-old Clement XII’s second place spot.
Also, compared to the average working stiff, the pope punched the clock more than his fair share. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development pegs the typical retirement age in the Westernized world between 50 and 70 years old.
At 55, Cambodians are the youngest retirees. Americans and Norwegians are the oldest retirees. On average, they get their gold watch at age 67, though 5 percent of Americans stay on the job beyond their seventieth birthday.