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Kicking and Screaming into the Fourth Quarter of Life

March 16, 2017

This was written by James E. Lee and is included here with his permission.

“While I was working on preparations for NY2016 this past year a secondary theme had been weaving its way through the back of my mind. How do I spend my time now that I have reached the fourth quarter of my life?

I will turn 68 in November of this year. The stamp business has been a major part of my life since September of 1972. There is still a considerable amount of enjoyment that comes from this passion of mine. However, there are many new and wonderful events that have occurred over the past four plus years that have caused me to reflect on the way I will spend my time going forward.

We were lovingly challenged by our daughter, Kristen, to focus on making memories as a family. Because of Kristen’s great idea, Melanie and I started taking stock long before NY2016 and developed a plan for our “fourth quarter.” It would put family in the first slot and everything else would follow. Some might think of it as a very active bucket list but we prefer to call it a plan for the next 20 years.

We set the stage by downsizing last year from a large single family home in Cary to a town house in Oak Brook, Illinois. This provides us with a low maintenance base of operation. It allows us to spend the winter months with our children and grandchildren in the Atlanta area. We also have easy access to both major Chicago airports to travel to places like Portland, Las Vegas (for restaurants and shows), and to all points in between.

Narrowing the business plan is also an important focus. In the past seven years our philatelic literature business has slowly been divested. This has returned to me a tremendous amount of time and space.

For the most part fancy cancels have just faded away. Postal history has been reduced to classic 19th century with emphasis on the American Civil War period. Essays and proofs are an ever increasing primary focus. In other words, I am left with the areas I truly enjoy. The business is now portable and can go where we go. But most importantly I can still achieve the same level of success that I have enjoyed over the years in half the time.

I plan to spend this last quarter with my family and doing the things that matter to us…family, travel, writing, and business. This is not a swan song but a repurposing of life. One never knows how many years remain so I don’t want to waste it or miss out on anything.

Enough time has been devoted over the years for the good of philately; society boards, ASDA, MSDA, and the like. It is time to pass the reins to the next generation of movers and shakers.

The swan song will not come until Boston 2026 where the booth will be run by Adam, Joel, our other children, and all of our grandchildren. It will be up to them to decide where it goes from there.

Continued good health is the key to all this and I am happy to say we will work hard at it.

Yes the “fourth quarter” is here, alive and well, but we are playing for double overtime.”

Jim Lee is a stamp dealer specializing in essays and proofs and he has a wonderful newsletter where this originally appeared. The newsletter can be accessed at I am an occasional customer of his and make sure I buy enough so I can continue to receive his newsletter. NY2016 was a once every ten year international stamp show that was held in New York in May and June for nine days at the Javits Center. The next international show in the United States is scheduled for Boston in 2026.

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