Last week I attended Max Dunn’s 90th birthday party. The speakers–all from the small town of Healdsburg–were a mix of those who obviously shared Max’s Christian faith and those oblivious to it. That was one feature I liked: Max is fully engaged with the welfare of his community, with no line between those of faith and those without it.
His Christian experience is rooted in the charismatic movement, which he joined as an Episcopalian in southern California. He retired in Healdsburg and joined the board of Alliance Medical Center, a small, struggling nonprofit clinic for the medically underserved. Max was a prime mover in turning it into a thriving enterprise, one of the biggest health care providers in the area. (In the process he unretired for a while, to oversee the operation.)
Lately his greatest joy–and it really is joy–comes from working at the local Salvation Army rehab center, meeting individually with men who come there to gain sobriety. (Notably, the band playing at his party was composed of men in that program. Max was hoping to get them some other gigs.) He does it three days a week and can’t stop talking about it.
He is big in Rotary.
He loves playing bridge.
Several people noted that Max is always smiling, and always asking for help or money. He is a loveable character, hard to resist.
Max didn’t start out with a plan for retirement significance, I don’t think. He just took his business know-how and his unquenchable optimism and used it for good. He had his antenna up for causes that helped the poor. And he took people on their own terms, whether Rotary Club members or down-on-their-luck alcoholics or Mexican farmworkers. Everybody is a potential friend to Max.
Retirement looks so easy, when it’s done well. Max has done it very well, quite possibly accomplishing more good than he ever did before he retired. I’d like to end up like Max Dunn.