Life Begins at 80

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SHERMAN, TX - Kenneth Burke Johnson lives in Sherman and hails from Charleston, West Virginia. He's a man who's done it all and still has a song in his heart. Ken served his country in the Korean war, was an art director for the L-A Times, competed in archery, dance roller skating and designed and built several model airplanes not too bad for his first 80 years.

"There's satisfaction in knowing you made something and feel like you've done a good job, feel like you've done the best you can do," said Johnson.

Ken's life was almost cut short. He was run over by a five ton moving van that hospitalized him for six weeks and took him more than a year to recover from. He said, "at 28 I said God has given me another chance because I should be under the ground."

So he gave up smoking, drinking, and began to exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet.

"And I also went into acting a little bit," said Johnson.

Ken was an extra in six films. He designed the model airplanes used in the 1984 movie Birdy, starring Nicholas Cage. His model airplane designs were featured in dozens of magazines, the most notable was the 1971 April edition of Esquire. And when Ken wasn't working on model planes, he was shooting lots of arrows.

"I always did like archery. So I ended up shooting in four states and I shot three thousand arrows in three months to get a presidential sports award in archery," Johnson said.

In spite of everything life threw at Ken Johnson, he continued to give it all his best shot. And he wants other seniors to know that life doesn't end at retirement. Johnson said, "well I try to tell them the exact opposite, that your life is beginning when you retire. Part of our job as older citizens is to be role models for younger people and tell them what's really important in life, you know?"

And continue to live life to the max.

"Absolutely. If you don't put anything into it, you're not going to get anything out of it," said Johnson.

These days you can catch Ken teaching an art class at the Sherman senior center or cruising around in his red convertible. "Oh, the MG," Johnson said.

At about 16 years old a buddy of Ken's got an M-G and he immediately fell in love. Since, he's owned a few classic cars himself. He also loves to surf the web.

"I think YouTube is the greatest thing that ever came along," said Johnson.

Ken searches videos of singers to get ideas for his next performances. He puts on shows once every couple of months with music that he has custom mixed just for him. After all he's done the past eight decades, he doesn't have any regrets.

"There's nothing I would want to do over again," he said.

He also thinks he's one pretty cool guy.

"Yea I think I'm cool. I think I'm about as cool as you get.
Maybe it's all the drugs I take," said Johnson jokingly.

Ken loves to laugh, sing and smile. And when he looks back on his life, he's happy with what he's accomplished but not enough to slow down anytime soon.

Johnson said, "I'm going to go until I drop."



 
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