Retiring from Mayo Clinic, Embracing Elderhood

My last day of work at Mayo Clinic will be one month from today, as I will be retiring August 3 to begin my third career.

I’m excited about what’s ahead, even as I look back fondly on more than 21 years of amazing experiences at Mayo Clinic and also on the chapters before April 2000 that prepared me for my Mayo career.

I started a series here on my blog in January 2020 to tell the story of My Health Journey, sharing what Lisa and I had learned over the previous three years that I thought others might find helpful.

Today I’m starting two more: My Career Journey and My Faith Journey.

Instead of a three-year scope I’ll be reflecting on more than a half-century of life experiences, but with the same goal: sharing stories and insights you might find interesting and that may lead to beneficial applications in your life.

Three factors spurred me to start these series: Chip Conley’s concept of modern elderhood, my renewed focus on old-fashioned Elderhood and our recent loss of Lisa’s dad.

As I wrote in Is 58 Halftime?, Chip Conley’s presentation two years ago challenged me to consider what my career contribution might be over the next 25 or 30 years, and how it would look different from my last few decades.

That led to some personal retooling, including getting my MBA, and also my decision to notify my division and department leaders on May 3 of my plans to retire from Mayo Clinic. As the series on My Career Journey progresses, I look forward to sharing news about what’s next for me, but before that I will begin my modern elder role by sharing earlier career stories and insights, including what mentors have helped me to learn. 

But I’m not just a modern elder: I’m a traditional one, too. Since 2010 I have been a Ruling Elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), in Rochester, Minn. I’ve just returned from attending the PCA’s 48th General Assembly in St. Louis. As I move into my third career, I want to dedicate more of my time and effort into this role, and in the My Faith Journey series I will share deeper “meaning of life” reflections.

The death of my father-in-law, Leonard Wacholz, on June 17 is my other motivation for starting these series. As I wrote in his obituary, Leonard was blessed with a long and relatively healthy life and was able to live at home on the farm until his last three months. His three children and 13 grandchildren (as well as us in-laws in both generations) have vivid and precious memories of Leonard, but for his 19 great-grandchildren (plus one on the way in October) the recollections will necessarily be fuzzier.

In his last weeks, as dementia was affecting his ability to speak and his short-term memory, we were amazed at some things Leonard could recall from 60, 70 or even 80 years ago. We know Leonard had a deep faith in Jesus and didn’t fear death, and so as the apostle Paul wrote, we don’t grieve “as those who have no hope.” But one of the hardest parts of losing him – besides the experience of his love, warmth and kindness – is that we’ve lost touch with those memories of his, and that we can’t ask him about them anymore. 

Through the series on My Career Journey and My Faith Journey, whatever good they may or may not do for others, I’ll be capturing memories – and hopefully wielding wisdom well – for my children and grandchildren.

And, Lord willing, through the changes Lisa and I have made as outlined in My Health Journey, we hope to also enjoy time with our children’s children’s children. 

I hope My Career Journey and My Faith Journey will be helpful to you, too.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

8 thoughts on “Retiring from Mayo Clinic, Embracing Elderhood”

  1. Lee
    I am looking forward to adding your new blogs to my reading and pondering!!!
    Susan Patterson

  2. How exciting! As a fellow believer, I’m especially looking forward to reading Your Faith Journey. I’ve been “blogging” on my Facebook page about my cancer experience and recent arm amputation at Mayo Clinic but might need to choose a different platform. Look forward to continuing to learn from you, Lee.

  3. About a dozen years ago we attended the Social Media Summit at Mayo Scottsdale where you were a presenter. Your passion for storytelling helped us positively shape our VA Phoenix social media efforts. I pray your next journey is fulfilling. I’m grateful for your impact. Blessings to you!

  4. Hi Lee- first congratulations!!! You will be very missed at Mayo. But second, I can’t wait for the contributions you will make in the new journey you are embracing! I for one can’t wait to read about and learn from your experiences
    and insights. Thank you for sharing your gifts with so many others. CONGRATULATIONS!

    1. Thanks, Bob. I appreciate your kind words and look forward to sharing the journey. I’ve also enjoyed getting to play some golf with your dad and hope he’ll be able to join us again soon.

  5. Lee,
    Congratulations on your journey, both past and future. I’m looking forward to reading your insights.
    As as woman of faith myself, I’m eager to follow your Faith journey.
    Congratulations on your next chapter.

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