Second Acts: Coffee with … Lynne Tickle

By Ray McAllister | September 7th, 2017

Why keep the prestigious, well-paying job when you can work for much less?

Lynne Tickle had been contemplating retiring. But no time soon. Two or three years, maybe. You don’t just throw away a job like bank senior V.P. (not unless you’re living in a sitcom). Besides, she was barely mid-50s.

Then she got the phone call.

We sat down recently for coffee at Perk Coffee and Lunchbox in Bon Air to discuss it.

Many baby boomers – first careers behind them, productive hours ahead – seek a “second act.” Tickle didn’t have to. The call came Dec. 10, 2015, and, of course, Tickle and her husband met with the friend who asked to see them.

The friend dropped a bombshell. His wife of 40 years had inoperable breast cancer.

Just 10 days later, his wife was dead. She had a request of Tickle before she died, though: “Would you please take care of [my husband]?”

She would, of course.

She soon found out providing food and caring was the easy part. The house was breaking down. The couples’ finances were a disaster. He was still recovering from the recession, and “I found later she had been a hoarder,” Tickle says. “They had a two-car garage that was full, without any car in it.” (But if you wanted thousands of magazines from the ’70s …)

The husband later would explain in a recommendation for Tickle:

“I was financially pushed to the limit, my house was in terrible need of repair, I had forty-five years of stuff to sort out, and the loss of my wife was devastating. … [Tickle] refinanced my debt, arranged loans to make repairs, hired contractors to do my roof, my porch, paint, remove wallpaper, etc. She sold furniture, crystal, china – online, through friends, in yard sales – and then documented donations. She then used her people skills to arrange volunteers to clean, sort, remove and fix everything in sight. What people couldn’t or wouldn’t do, she did herself – painting, scrubbing, organizing, meeting people to sell – you name it.”

Tickle soon was putting in 20-30 hours a week on the project, on top of her week at TowneBank.

Then in May 2016, her father passed away. Tickle became executor of his estate. Now she was doing double duty, handling two end-of-life situations.

This past January, she read a magazine article on a new company in Richmond, Legacy Navigator, founded by financial expert Craig Shealy, Hoarders TV star Matt Paxton and famed grief expert Pete Shrock. What it handles is summarized by the “What We Do” sections on its website: The Stuff, The House, The Paperwork, The Expenses, The Grief.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my God, that company is doing the same thing I was doing,” Tickle says. (The neighbor’s letter attests: “Lynne took a desperate situation and turned it around. I am now days away from listing my house for sale, paying off all of my debt and having peace of mind.”) Indeed, she realized her dual experience “was part of a journey to put me somewhere else.”

So – why not? – in May, she left TowneBank and began working as Legacy Navigator Senior Guide. “I was exhilarated and terrified all at once,” she says.

At 55, “I’m definitely the oldest one there. You get a different perspective.” (Hmm. Doesn’t seem all that old, does it?) The younger environment is flexible and adaptive, and the work collaborative, she says.

Some think she’s crazy. She makes less than half the money she did before, “and I left some financial benefits on the table.” But her closest friends have been very supportive.

And she’s sure. “I helped people in a different way with banking,” she says. “But this is personal. You’re dealing with people who are overwhelmed, emotionally drained and feeling like they don’t have options.”

She gains as much as they do. “I looked at it as a reset button on the bad habits of my life,” she adds. Tickle began daily exercise, eating healthier and keeping a journal.

“I looked upon it,” she says, “as a way to start a Chapter 2.”

Ray McAllister, former Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist and former Boomer editor, is the writer of six books. An expanded 10th anniversary edition of his Wrightsville Beach: The Luminous Island, a paperback edition of Ocracoke: The Pearl of the Outer Banks, and an audio book of Hatteras Island: Keeper of the Outer Banks are all due out this fall. In May, he published another writer’s book, Portsmouth: The Way It Was by Ellen Fulcher Cloud. For more:

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