More Americans are retiring later and later - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

More Americans are retiring later and later

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More and more people are retiring later and later.

In fact, according to government numbers almost 19 percent of people 65 or older are still in the workforce.

While seniors remain on the job for various reasons needing money, health insurance, living longer and healthier, one local man is certainly raising the bar.

Many of us look fondly towards retirement, an end to the daily grind.

And beyond even that - simply reaching the golden years would be accomplishment enough.

However, for Dr. Louis Rigali, it's all in a day’s work.

Here at Holyoke Dental Associates, he's been a fixture day in and day out since opening the practice back in the 60's.

But hard work is nothing new for Rigali—starting when he arrived in America from Italy—and at 5 tried to enroll in Holyoke schools.

“I have a vivid memory of them putting a little sign on me and they escorted me home,” Rigali said. “And they had a little sign saying speak English."

Like many of his generation, growing up Rigali worked hard and worked a lot.

Coming of age in the 1940's—he joined the army during the final years of World War II.

His work ethic and skilled hands didn't go unnoticed for long - eventually landing him in the pilot's seat of a glider.

But not before he conquered 'the rock pile'—a room filled with potatoes.

“So I’m whittling them down and I'm working away and the cook came in and says ‘Holy Jeez, where did you learn to do that?’ I said I peeled potatoes every day, so what's new?”

Using the GI Bill, Rigalli became a dentist at 28, and he's been practicing ever since.

In case you're wondering, that's 63 years.

Because this humble, unassuming man, in a lab coat is 91-years-old.

A pioneer in dental implants, his day still starts around 5 a.m., with an hour-long work out at the Holyoke Y.

“First thing I do is the bike for 30 minutes intensively. And then I do all of the body - all of the machines. So there are 16, 17 machines. When I'm finished with those I'm pretty good. Then you go to work? then I go to work.”

And that's something he's been doing for the last 9 decades, going to work.

As far as an end in sight? Don't bet on it.

“You've probably forgotten more about dentistry than most people know at this point?”

“I would say so, because when I start talking to some of the new dentists they don't know what I'm talking about,” Rigali responded, laughing. “So, haha, either that or I'm losing it. I don't know which. I don't think so.”

Dr. Louis Rigali, a dentist a little bit "long in the tooth.”

But he'll be the first to tell you, when you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. 

Next month, Dr. Rigali and his wife are set to receive the YMCA’s Lou Oldershaw community service award, for excellence in personal, professional and community achievements.

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