They Flunked Retirement, and the World Will Be Better for It

What do John Kanzius and Dr. Jose Antonio Abreau have in common, beside being featured in two back-to-back good news segments on a recent 60 Minutes (April 13)? Although motivated by very different causes, both 60-somethings came out of retirement to make contributions to humanity that will be felt for generations, perhaps forever. Here are the summaries of their stories.

Unable to sleep one night during a recent bout of chemotherapy for leukemia, John Kanzius, a retired businessman and radio technician, had a brainstorm: was it possible that radio waves could kill cancer? Months of tinkering in his own garage and thousands of dollars of his own money later, he produced the Kanzius Machine which, combined with nano technology, zaps cancer cells in experimental animals, leaving healthy tissue intact.  Kanzius’ invention has been deemed promising enough to attract research funding.

El Sistema, founded by retired economist Dr. Jose Antonio Abreau in 1975, is rescuing hundreds of thousands of young Venezuelans from lives of poverty and neglect, by teaching them to play a musical instrument and introducing them into youth orchestras. The Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra, the flower of eL Sistema, now plays to packed concert halls around the world. Says Raphel Elster, one of the leaders, “We work hard. And they love it!”