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Creativity defines Riderwood couple

This month: Max Horlick

Created date

September 20th, 2011

his is what we do in retirement, Max Horlick says as he places his two published books on the coffee table alongside two collected volumes of his wife s photographs. Though Max still works part-time at International Employee Benefits, his new profession is a creative one. And though he s previously written technical articles about developments in foreign countries on issues surrounding social security, private pensions, and health plans, it wasn t until he and his wife, Ruth, moved to Riderwood, an Erickson Living community in Silver Spring, Md., in 2003 that he was able to take time to focus on his own passion.

The writer blossoms

Living at Riderwood has given Max the freedom to pursue the creative side of writing. A frequent contributor to Tales of Riderwood, a quarterly publication that features writers in the community, Max has also published two books of his own. Creativity enables him to blend passions history and writing and spin witty yarns around events that actually happened, like in his new book, The Agony of Victory: a Fictional Account of Actual Events. In 1939, Max was attending Rutgers University, and it was during that year that a scandal broke out around an alleged nude picture of a woman who hadn t posed nude. Throw in the drama of a football team being somehow involved in the scandal while under the guidance of a new coach, and you have action, drama, intrigue: Will Rutgers be able to beat Princeton, the team that had been plaguing them since Rutgers last victory in 1866? What would the coach have to do to get them to that victory? These are some of the questions addressed in Max s novel. This book is really all about defining the struggles a coach has and the tough decisions he has to make, Max says. He had been collecting the material for years, Ruth says of her husband s most recent book. Max had started the book in fits and starts, but once they moved to Riderwood, he felt he could finish it. That s the good part about living here, Ruth, Max s editor and biggest supporter, says. There s time and an environment that fosters both their creativity. Max also wrote his first book, The Pension Mountain: Impact of an Aging Population on Social Security, in 2007 in the arms of the Riderwood community.

A doctor is born

Aside from becoming an author, Max achieved another feat in retirement. In 2007, the 89-year-old received his Ph.D. in French literature from Columbia University. Technically, he says, he completed his Ph.D. by 1954, but like so many young men of that time, Max had gone to serve in World War II, interrupting his doctorate degree. He had taken the written and oral exams, finished his dissertation, taken the three-hour Latin and four-hour German exams; he even defended the dissertation to three men for approval. Two approved it, while one wanted a rewrite. Between the war and Ruth getting sick with tuberculosis and then starting a family, Max says he didn t have the time or the energy to rewrite it. According to Max, Ruth pressured him for the next 50 years to get the piece of paper that signified he was a doctor of French literature, but it wasn t until his children petitioned the university that it was awarded to him. Max graduated with the class of 2007, even though his diploma said 1954. The girls were all over him, Ruth laughs. When asked if he s ready to slow down now that he has his Ph.D., two books under his belt, and still consults part-time, Max shakes his head and says, No way. In between practicing tai chi and socializing around campus, Max is now at work on a third book centered around the Battle of the Bulge. He echoes Ruth s sentiment, This all keeps us young.