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Take Your Time

Although retirement was chosen for her, Maryann finds that in time retirement can replace the work you loved to do
Maryann Mendel, PhD, Member-At-Large, ACS Rochester
Maryann Mendel, PhD, Member-At-Large, ACS Rochester

Maryann Mendel received her PhD degree in Physical Organic Chemistry from Boston College and her BA in Chemistry from Immaculata College (University now). After a short career at United Merchants and Manufacturing, she joined Eastman Kodak Company and remained there until retirement in 2005.

Her contributions to chemistry were in the area of photography at Eastman Kodak Company, where she worked in the Entertainment Imaging Business. In addition to her ACS membership, Mendel is a Research Fellow and Lifetime Member of the Research Scientific Council, Eastman Kodak Company and is currently a Fellow of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, Inc. In August, 2020, she became a Fellow of the American Chemical Society.

She is an active member of the Rochester Section of ACS where she is serving as Member-at-Large. In this role, she chairs our Annual Event and Recognition Dinner each year.

Currently, Maryann is a resident of West Irondequoit, New York with her husband, John, and their two Golden Retriever dogs, Charlie and Snoopy. Their two daughters, Catherine and Elizabeth, both live in the Boston area now so trips to Boston keep increasing.

Did you choose retirement? Or was it chosen for you?

In my case, retirement was chosen for me. I retired from Kodak in 2005. I was not ready to retire. My first thoughts were, where do I go and what do I do? I found that it did not take long before all my time was taken up with other things that I never had time to do. Looking back now, I can now say that it was the best decision that was given to me.

How was the transition from the working world to retirement?

In the beginning it was very challenging since I had no concrete plans. Everyone says “you need to plan for retirement" and for me, my focus was financial planning, not what I would do for the rest of my life. Once I got connected with something that I liked that became my passion. My passion became the Rochester Section of the American Chemical Society after planning a local annual dinner where Cornell University Chemistry Professor and Nobel Prize winner, Roald Hoffmann was the guest speaker. 

What do you wish you knew about retirement before you retired?

I wish I knew that retirement can be very fulfilling and in time take the place of the work that you loved to do. The best added feature is independence. You can walk away any time you want. However, busy days, timelines and commitments do not go away but you made the decision to do them.

How do you stay connected to the chemistry enterprise as a retiree?

At Kodak, I was very connected worldwide to motion picture and image capture through conventions and trade shows. As a member of the Rochester New York Section of the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers, I was also connected locally. After retirement, a group of us get together monthly for luncheons and lively discussions on technology and where it is going.

As a contributing member of the Rochester Section ACS, I returned to the chemistry enterprise and look to pass it on to new students as they map out their careers in the sciences.

My best connection is my monthly lunches with “the girls!”

What do you like most about where you are living in retirement? What’s one thing you wish you could change about where you live?

We are still living in our Rochester home. Our kids grew up here and we have no reason at this time to leave. Our church, doctors and service people are here so it makes it easy to stay in New York. We are not big on moving to any retirement community. We love our neighborhood and welcome new families joining our neighborhood.

The temperature, lack of sun and property taxes are the biggest drawbacks to New York State area. However, New York does provide additional deductions for retired people. I keep thinking that a warmer climate for a few weeks would make winter more tolerable.    

What advice do you have for people who are getting ready to retire?

Making plans on what you will do after retirement is a good thing but take time to transition from the working force so you have an opportunity to judge your plans for retirement. If more than one person is involved in planning, make sure room is made for the individual goals of each person involved so retirement is fulfilling to both people. These goals would be the day to day activities you do. For example, John started a second career as an adjunct instructor at Nazareth College. I have little interest in teaching but I greatly enjoy getting involved in committees and planning events.

Copyright 2021 American Chemical Society (All Rights Reserved)

This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.

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