June 29, 2003 - Johnstown Tribune Democrat: Robert M. Livingston, 82, hopes to join Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: June 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: June 29, 2003 - Johnstown Tribune Democrat: Robert M. Livingston, 82, hopes to join Peace Corps

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Robert M. Livingston, 82, hopes to join Peace Corps





Read and comment on this story from the Johnstown Tribune Democrat on Robert M. Livingston, 82, who hopes to join Peace Corps. Thatís why heís selling the family business that dates to 1889, shuttering the house where he and his late wife reared five children and preparing to join the Peace Corps. Heís already filled out a slew of forms and submitted his physical information, which has been approved. He is waiting for an interview and hopes to know shortly after that if the corps wants him. "We all owe a certain amount of service back to society," Livingston, better known as Livingston the Plumber, said during an interview in his office on the second floor of a former stable at 138 Harshberger St. in Johnstownís Roxbury section. Read the story at:

Plumber, 82, hopes to join Peace Corps*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.



Plumber, 82, hopes to join Peace Corps

By JEFF McCREADY, TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT BUSINESS WRITER June 29, 2003

Robert M. Livingston, 82, says itís time to start giving back to society.

Thatís why heís selling the family business that dates to 1889, shuttering the house where he and his late wife reared five children and preparing to join the Peace Corps.

Heís already filled out a slew of forms and submitted his physical information, which has been approved.

He is waiting for an interview and hopes to know shortly after that if the corps wants him.

"We all owe a certain amount of service back to society," Livingston, better known as Livingston the Plumber, said during an interview in his office on the second floor of a former stable at 138 Harshberger St. in Johnstownís Roxbury section.

But it wonít be the end of the world if he isnít accepted. While Livingston thinks his chances are good, he does have a backup plan.

The contingency calls for accepting an assistantship that has been offered to him at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he is working on a doctorate in administration and leadership.

He already has completed a year of study and has been granted a leave of absence if he is accepted into the Peace Corps.

Livingston, who will be 83 in July, earned a masterís degree in organizational leadership from Geneva College in 2001.

"Nothing Bob does surprises me," said Chuck Bishop, one of two employees who is buying the business. "I hope Iím walking at 83."

If accepted into the Peace Corps, Livingston would serve for 27 months.

Following that, he wants to buy 10 to 25 acres somewhere in the wilderness to grow chestnut and other trees.

The Peace Corps evolved in 1960 when John F. Kennedy challenged students during a campaign speech at the University of Michigan. He asked them if they would be willing "to serve their country and the cause of peace by living and working in the developing world."

Information on the corpsí Web page says more than 168,000 Americans have responded to that challenge.

"We do have a lot of volunteers who are in the Peace Corps, " spokeswoman Sara Ryan said by telephone from her office in Washington. "There is no maximum age."

She said people in good health should have no problem getting into the corps.

Livingston said those accepted receive a living allowance tied to what a teacher is paid in the country where they are helping. That usually amounts to between $150 and $250 a month.

Livingston said he read about a man who was 86 when he left the corps. Lillian Carter, the late mother of former President Carter, was 68 when she joined.

About 40 percent of Peace Corps members are older than 40. Livingston is spry, in good health and does not look his age.

He would like to use his skills to bring potable water and to provide sewage to underdeveloped countries.

"Thereís a need to do this worldwide, but Iíll go wherever they feel my talents can best be used," he said. "Iím in a position to do that."

Through the years he has studied Japanese and pre-medicine, worked at a Bethlehem Steel Corp. shipyard in Baltimore and farmed.

But Livingston didnít always have things this together. He recalls the days when he smoked and drank too much.

"I quit smoking and drinking the same night," he recalled. "When you have to do something you do it. I was ruining myself."

Livingston decided to return to school after the death of his wife, Anna, in 1997. Two years later he earned a bachelorís in human relations from Geneva.

He learned from his wife in the year before her death.

"She spent the last year of her life teaching me how to be self sufficient," he said. "I think I flunked housekeeping."

Today, Geneva uses him to convince people they are never too old to return to school.

"They trot out all the papers and videos about Ďolí Bob,í " he said.

Livingston also has been a teacher through the years.

"See that blackboard," James Mucher, who is buying the business with Bishop, said as he pointed to a flip chart in one part of Livingstonís cluttered office. "I spent eight years in front of it."

Livingston says education is vital in the plumbing business, one that he grew up with.

He describes it as an intense industry in which practitioners need problem-solving skills.

"When I was 12, my daddy took me by the hand and said, ĎCímon, you have to learn the business,í " he said. "This is the end of the line as far as the family is concerned.

"And it happened on my watch."

But it is far from the end of the road for this octogenarian who now sleeps on an air mattress as he cleans out his home. Located in front of the business, the home is part of the sale.

"Thereís no turning back now," he said. "Iíve burned my bridges."

©Tribune Democrat 2003

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