Sig Schmalhofer is living proof that retirees can have a full life

Sig has published two novels.

by Sheli Ellsworth

Sig Schmalhofer’s quest to fulfill the American Dream began in 1956 as a five-year-old German immigrant. The sum of the family’s possessions were stuffed into two suitcases when they landed at LAX. The first English words he learned became a lifetime mantra, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” His mother had memorized the Benjamin Franklin proverb and recited it often to the family. After graduating from Newbury Park High School in 1969, he married his high school sweetheart, Beverly.

Schmalhofer worked his way through college by working in plumbing shops. After he earned a degree in English from CSUN, he was an elementary teacher in Thousand Oaks. Three years later he capitalized on his knowledge of plumbing industry and made it his career.

In 1993, he was diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, a debilitating genetic disease which robs victims of muscular strength. “That’s when the list of tasks I could do by myself got shorter, and things I needed help with, got longer. Thank God for Bev. She’s flawlessly stepped in to help me do things that need to be done.” The couple raised three children and have seven grandchildren.

After they built a successful career in Riverside, Sig and Bev moved back to Ventura County, where it all began. “I’d planned to play golf every day of my retired life,” Sig says. “But when my physical challenges made the game that I love an exercise in ‘Hit the ball, drag Sig’, I turned my attention to other hobbies. The centerpiece of that list is writing.”

Sig has published two novels, Jelly Beans in Life and Jelly Beans in Life 2; a business book, The Reputable Rep; and a memoir: Never Really Normal. Coming soon is the first of a series of mysteries.

The Ventura resident is living proof that retirees should be armed with a manageable list of hobbies beyond asking children and grandchildren questions they really don’t want to answer. His favorite pastime is playing enthralling, winner-take-all, games of Cribbage with Bev. “We’re super competitive. We play two or three games a day and record the results of every game in what we dubbed The Book. The ultimate goal is to win a ‘World Series Championship’ which takes about six months.”

Sig and Bev also post Wordl and Connections scores on a family text, daily, and each of them maintains their own exercise program. Sig has six ‘exercise stations’ in his home where he completes a list of daily routines prescribed by Dr. Selvey, his physiotherapist.

Schmalhofer also rides around the neighborhood in his souped-up wheelchair he calls his Sigmobile. He watches baseball, golf and football but not the news. “Watching news,” he says, “is the ideal way to make yourself act like a grumpy old man.” Because I’ve been blessed to live a life well worth living with friends and family well worth having,” Sig said. “The first words out of my mouth every day are, “Thank God, I’m still alive.”

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