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100-Year-Old Architect Still Punches Clock

Aired December 16, 2001 - 18:56   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: Many Americans consider work a daily grind with retirement as the eventual reward.

CNN's Kathy Slobogin has found a man with a job that's kept him inspired, perhaps even alive, long past the age when he should have stopped punching the clock.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHY SLOBOGIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's 100 years old, and age has slowed him down a little: He now works five days a week instead of seven.

Harold Fisher is the oldest working architect in America. He got his first drafting job at 19 for $2 a day.

HAROLD FISHER, ARCHITECT: They said you're too young. You couldn't possibly know -- do our work. So I had to boost my age to 27 and they hired me.

SLOBOGIN: His designs mirror the history he has lived through, from a memorial for Charles Lindbergh, to a factory for wounded war veterans.

H. FISHER: You hear the bellboys. You hear World War -- first World War.

SLOBOGIN: But Harold Fisher's passion is churches. He estimates he has designed nearly 500 of them in his lifetime.

(on camera): What do you hope people will feel when they walk into one of your churches?

H. FISHER: We try to do the design outside, so it'll speak to the people and say, "Come within and you'll find peace." And we have a spectacle, you want all of them. And they're all want to step into it to feel the presence of beauty.

SLOBOGIN: Fisher refuses to consider himself old, even with 22 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Believe it or not, he worked out three days a week until a few months ago, when he fell off a treadmill.

He's had a few other age-related mishaps, according to his son, Gaylord, like the incident with his hearing aid.

GAYLORD FISHER, HAROLD FISHER'S SON: Apparently, he put it in one of his pants pockets and it went through the washing machine. So he, you know, found it, pulled it out, dripped it dry, and you know, was hoping that it would still work. It did not.

SLOBOGIN: But you won't hear Fisher complain.

G. FISHER: I think what my father's secret is, is the fact that he is always positive. He never worries about anything. Whenever he sees a problem -- he sees a problem as a puzzle. And it's how to solve the puzzle.

H. FISHER: When you develop a problem, find a solution. And mostly, your solution has to deal with getting rid of fear and despair.

SLOBOGIN (voice-over): Fisher still designs with a pencil. He won't have anything to do with computers. He says his work keeps him alive, that he'll never retire.

(on camera): A lot of people think when they get older, they need to retire, they need to relax.

H. FISHER: OK, and they die shortly. I've noticed men on the street, they retire at 65, say four or five years, they're dead because they're bored to tears. A giant boredom.

I'm never bored. I'm always thinking. I've always got problems to solve. Well, I'm just -- I'm happy.

SLOBOGIN: Kathy Slobogin, CNN, Detroit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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