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ginger barry, 70, business owner

ageist EDITORS | june 1, 2016

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Living, as she does, in the retirement paradise of Scottsdale, Arizona, there are any number of world-class golf courses to pick from and golf pros to teach her. Ginger Barry politely declines all of it.

“I hate golf. It’s so boring. It’s slow… I don’t like anything to do with golf,” she says. “And in my world, there’s a lot of pressure to play.”

By her “world,” she could be referring to the legions of 60- and 70-somethings that glad around in the arid desert air, hitting the links and the early bird circuit. But then again, she might not be. Barry isn’t your typical 70-year-old divorcee. She’s not even your typical 70-year-old. There are lunches with her girlfriends and shopping excursions, sure. But there are also nights when she slides up to the bar of her favorite restaurant and eats dinner by herself, making conversation with the staff and the regulars she knows from countless times before.

“You know, aging doesn’t change who you are. It doesn’t make you a different person,” says Barry. “If all your life, you’ve gone out and done the things you’ve wanted to do, you’ll do that when you’re older as well.”

That means if you want to start riding horses when you’re 60, you do that. Want to pick up the complicated sport of dressage two years later? You do that too.

“I don’t think people should box themselves in. There are people who graduate college in their 90s,” she says. “I don’t think you should put those kind of limits on yourself. Some people are 45 and old, in their brain. I don’t know. I get up every morning with a plan; there’s always something I want to do that day.”

Barry, from Chicago, married when she was 19 and had three kids by the time she was 24, adding a fourth at 31. She worked in retail to make her own money, before starting a printer ink company with her husband that became so successful, it was acquired by a German company 11 years ago. Less than a decade later, she divorced her husband.

“I didn’t have a master plan,” she says. “I didn’t like where I was, so I fixed that and said whatever happened after that had to be better.”

There is a new guy, a great guy, and he’s long-distance. But, as she says, “My life is packed without a guy.” She spends a lot of time with her kids, and grandkids, but also with those friends she says are positive assets to her life. “I think it’s important to keep humor in your life,” she says. “I don’t spend much time in a negative world.”

She doesn’t spend much time being idle either.

“I get out of bed every morning thinking something good is going to happen,” she says. “I usually get up and I have a list of stuff that I’m dying to do. And I schedule it that way because that’s what gets me going.