‘I wake up every morning and I enjoy every bit of it’: For Kettering man, walking is the key to it all

Gary Ross has lived in Kettering since 1975. He and his wife, LaDonna, started their family and raised children in the area.

But retirement has been the key to appreciating all that he has, and all that Kettering has to offer.

Ross walks eight miles every single day, plus another two to four miles walking his dogs.

“When I was young, I was very active, and then in my late 20s I got a job in the fire department. Firefighters work very hard, but it can be sedentary, and I found myself getting out of shape,” Ross said.

“I would work out hard for three to four years and slack off for two to three years. It was 20- to 30-year roller coaster. I finally started a consistent routine about six years ago.”

Ross, who had battled his weight most of his life, started off small, by walking a few blocks at a time.

“Eventually I got stronger and stronger and this time I haven’t stopped because I know if I stop, it may be my last opportunity.”

The 71-year-old is now fit and dedicates about two hours of his day to his walking routine. He also utilizes Kettering’s indoor tracks at Trent Arena and the Recreation Complex to keep up exercise in the winter.

The time commitment is not a hindrance because it’s time he probably would have spent watching a movie or TV.

“Cutting grass, chores, and doing things around the house becomes much easier. I think it makes life, in general, easier. I may not want to do it, but I get up and get started,” Ross said.

More from Ross:

Name: Gary Ross

Age: 71

Hometown: Kettering

Spouse name and number of years married/number children, grandchildren: Married to LaDonna for 53 years. The couple has two children, Bryan and Carly, and three grandchildren and five bonus grandchildren.

Favorite memory of your hometown: My favorite memory is being at the Ice Arena every weekend watching Bryan and Carly play hockey.

How has aging affected your daily life: Minor aches and pains, which hasn’t affected me that much. I think the knowledge you have as you age really is a positive in my life and how I view things.

What is your favorite activity: I love walking and I love sports, music, politics, and I just love life.

How do you stay fulfilled in retirement: Walking helps me physically and mentally. It’s my alone time and when I have time to figure things out, and I enjoy listening to music as I walk. Having time with my family is also fulfilling. The time with LaDonna has been enjoyable, because when we were younger, we were working all the time.

Biggest challenge of being a senior citizen: I think it’s being stereotyped. When I’m in a store people will ask if I need help. I’m a robust, energetic guy and I feel like I’m on the helping side of life. The time is coming when I will need help, and I want to keep going independently as long as I can.

Biggest reward of being a senior citizen: Knowledge, and as I age, I wake up every morning and I enjoy every bit of it. I have never enjoyed life more than I have in the last 15 years, and I think I’ve grown a lot as a person in the last 15 years too.

Most satisfying part about life today: I am at peace with myself. Over the last 20 years or so, I have grown enormously. I finally had time to slow down and think about who I am and what I am, and hopefully I’ve changed for the better.

What does the future hold for you: I hope to see my two youngest grandchildren graduate from high school, and perhaps college, and see my oldest grandson happy and fulfilled in life.

Best advice for individuals 60 years and older: Keep moving and if you’re not moving, start moving. Keep learning. One of the most important things is keep laughing and enjoying life.

Contact this writer at writeawayk@gmail.com.

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