The New Elder Law Report: Retirement Jobs with Debra Blanton


I’m Greg McIntyre and this is the elder law report. With me today is Hayden Soloway and our special guest is Debra Blanton.

We are going to talk about retirement jobs. So, what does that mean? You plan for retirement but what are you going to do when you retire?

GM: Now before we get in to that, my colleague Hayden has a happy place to take us.

HS: Our happy place today is all about mother’s day gifts. I have a list from the ridiculous to the sublime as my mother used to say. Greg, would you like to buy your mother an eleven hundred dollar Mont Blanc pen?

GM: Would I?

HS: Or a scarab bracelet from the year 1875 for three thousand nine hundred and fifty dollars? It is made out of genuine scarab beetles and it’s gold plated.

GM: I’m sorry, there’s a bracelet made out of beetles?

HS: Yes.

GM: Is that something my mum wants?

HS: Scarab beetles symbolize birth and resurrection. I think the beetles are dipped in gold but they also have a green patina. Or what about getting your mum a shark hat which is a real shark’s mouth which fits over your head. Some of these are so crazy. They have Playdoe perfume and guess what it smells like? Playdoe.

GM: My house smelled like playdoe all the time until we banned it.

HS: Does your mother like Mexican food?

GM: Yes, she does.

HS: How about taco earrings? Or mop slippers?

GM: So, they have mops on the bottom of them?

HS: Yes. My favorites are the zombie family car decals, little walking dead people. Or a tie dye beer belt so mum can carry around six cans of beer with her. One thing I do love is a blanket made out of pictures of the children or grandchildren. There is all kinds of jewelry or foods. What about the gifts you used to give or get for mother’s day Debra?

DB: I have three children and our favorite thing to do on mother’s day was to hike South Mountain. It is something you can do locally, it doesn’t cost anything and you can have a picnic lunch and walk up to the waterfall.

HS: What a great idea, exercise and great food.

DB: It’s spring time so a lot of the spring flowers are in bloom. It’s just a lovely thing we do.

GM: That is awesome, I love that. So Debra, you have crafted a whole second career in retirement, can you tell us about that?

DB: I was director of elections for Cleveland County for twenty-seven plus years. I worked with Hayden when she was out on the streets politicking, that is where we first got to know each other.

GM: You did this job for twenty-seven years as head of the board of elections and retired from that, I haven’t got to the point of retiring.

DB: So, when did I first decide I might be retiring? I started working on this in 2007 when I drove by and saw that the Hannah’s had erected a vineyard, Owls Eye Winery.

GM: We were thinking of doing some wine and workshops over there.

DB: Oh, wouldn’t that be perfect. Everyone will be in a good mood. They might not be able to read their notes but I’m sure it would be okay.

GM: Yes, we may have to limit how much wine they have before the workshop.

DB: Anyway, the Hannah’s go to our church, the Shelby Presbyterian and sometime early in 2007 when I finally figured out, yes it was a vineyard and who owned it, I went to them and said, I would love to be able to help you at the vineyard. So, in 2007 they asked me if I would like to come with them to Winston Salem to their very first wine festival. That wine festival is called Salute, and when we went in 2007 it was the first time for the Hannah’s because they had just produced their first vintage of wine, and it was the first wine festival Winston Salem ever did. It has been on-going since. That was where my interest in growing grapes came from.

HS: Were you normally a grower of flowers and such things?

DB: I have a little vegetable garden but I’m from South Dakota and my father was a cattle feeder and farmer, so I have farming in my genes. I had some property in South Dakota which I sold and I needed to convert that to something else so I put the money in to a vineyard. That’s how it all came about. We built the infrastructure first, the stakes, the poles and the wires. I have forty-four rows with ten muscadine vines on each row. So, the infrastructure went up, I purchased my grape vines and in 2012 we planted. We let them grow in 2013 and started to pick grapes in 2014. Back to how all this works in, I worked until December 31st 2013, so I already had my infrastructure from my vineyard and already had my grapes growing.

GM: But it was all because you took a step and said, this is something I’m really interested in. Most people probably don’t know there is a vineyard in Cleveland County.

DB: Actually, there are only two, Bakery Buffalo Creek, and they have half muscadine and half vinifera. The vinifera is like a chardonnay or merlot. The Owls Eye Winery is strictly Vinifera, which appeals to a lot of people, especially those who have moved down to the south. A lot of them don’t know what a muscadine is, or they don’t like it, they don’t like sweet wine.

GM: Yes, muscadine wine is sweet. Owls Eye is traditional wine?

DB: Yes.

HS: I’ve always considered them separate things. Muscadines you eat, and wine you drink, so I’m used to the dry, less sweet.

DB: It’s a very nice sweet refreshing wine if that is what you like. I like both of them. I love my wine. Now, back to my other job that I have, I host a television show.

GM: You have more than one retirement job?

DB: I have multiple. I have a vineyard called Triple BBB Vineyard. The first B is my maiden name, Bush for Arlen Bush who is my partner in the vineyard, and Beaty which is my maiden name, so BBB. With the vineyard, I have also branched out into a bed and barn, called Triple BBB Bed and Barn, and I’m an LLC with that. The barn comes from the veterinary hospital that we had on my property. We have expanded the barn and it has some stalls and there is a little house for people who travel with their horses around the country, so they have a place to sleep for themselves and stalls and a paddock area for their horses.

HS: Is that a possible rental for the equestrian center?

DB: Absolutely.

GM: If there is an opportunity I feel you will track it down.

DB: Or I will open that door.

GM: I love that about you. That is a quality that I would love to have more of myself.

HS: I’m sixty-nine years old and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, so having a retirement job, I’m in mine. I had no intention of going back to work and ended up working for Greg, and what we do is just so satisfying to me, educating people about things they really need to know.

GM: That’s right, you’ve retired several times I think?

HS: I just got to a point where I felt, I’m going to do what I feel like doing.

GM: That’s like my three year old, she had a shirt on the other day that said, messy hair, don’t care.

HS: I have a quick story, my cousin Judy was in her fifties and decided she was going back to school to become a nurse, and her friend said, do you know how old you will be when you finish? And she said, yes I do, the same age as I’ll be if I don’t.

GM: I love that.

HS: I think this is something that in our age group we really think about. We can do things we have always wanted to do.

DB: Retirement does not mean sitting down or doing nothing. It means advancing, keeping your mind going.

HS: It doesn’t even mean getting paid. I have submitted my name over at The Bankers House to help with the events.

GM: I love the fact that you went after something you wanted to do, a passion. Hopefully we can do in our jobs what we’re passionate about. I get to do two things that I am passionate about, running a business and helping people. It is an adventure, some good, some not so good and that’s life, it comes in waves.

DB: If you stay positive then everything is lemonade. It’s a new day and you look forward to that.

GM: Every day is a new day, that’s right.

DB: Let me tell you about my television show. It’s called Cleveland County Kitchen, I conceived this idea back in 2011 because I joined to the farmer’s market which was then on downtown Washington Street, and looking at all the vegetables and farmers, it occurred to me that someone needs to emphasize what farmers do. I had been on Greg Tillman’s television show Talk of the Town, so I was very familiar being in front of the camera. I had retired in December and met with Greg Tillman in January 2014 and I said, this is what I’m proposing. He didn’t get back to me until September so I thought he had forgotten about the idea but he said, the only thing holding me up was trying to find a kitchen. I had said, I think we need to interview the farmer, talk about the nutritional value of the food and then cook it. He said that Dr Thornburg came down one day and said, I know you are trying to figure out where to put a kitchen in the studio, why don’t you just go across the street to County Extension, they’ve got a beautiful kitchen. That was the beginning of the collaboration between CCC and the Cooperative Extension.

It’s a half hour show. We interview the farmer for ten minutes and show where the food comes from, and how to pick it. The second ten minutes we are in the studio talking to Nancy Abasiekong. She is the consumer expert and talks about the nutrition. The last ten minutes we are in the kitchen cooking it. It airs two or three times a day from Friday to Friday at the end of the month.

It airs on channel nineteen and you can see it online at I guess the more you think about things, the more you develop a passion, then that makes retirement that much sweeter because you can conceive of them and then actually do them in retirement.

GM: That is awesome. If you go to the YMCA or anywhere, there are a ton of seniors there working, and I was thinking what would I do as my passion job after I left my pre-retirement job? I’m working my passion but I also want to learn to fly, I want to do that and other fun stuff in my life. I don’t want to have any regrets.

DB: If you can make your fun thing like flying, work in to your profession, you can buy a plane and travel and deduct all that. You could have an office in Hendersonville and fly to your other office.

GM: Yes, I ‘ve already connected those dots. I was in Wilmington last week handling a case and got in a traffic jam on the way back and I was thinking, I could have gotten down here in an hour fifteen minutes by plane.

DB: My ex-husband purchased a plane and he would fly to Rayleigh and back, and fly to Hickory, he had some clients up there. It was his passion to fly and he just did it and worked it in to his professional life.

I’m also a master gardener and I would encourage anyone in retirement who like plants and like to grow vegetables to become a master gardener. It takes about six week’s intense study, very thick book which is your resource book as well. You learn so much. The master gardener group I met with recently went to two gardens in Winston Salem, so it opens you up to travel and learning new things.

HS: And meeting new friends.

DB: Yes, and making friends.

HS: That’s important as people grow older.

GM: I want to thank you for being on the show today. I am amazed by you and your energy, I just need to be able to keep up. I love the way you are making those networking connections in your life and in the businesses you’ve created. I think we should all be making those connections in our lives.

I like to think what I am doing every day is working in a garden. We all need to be working in our garden because sometimes over there needs some attention, and we need to weed over here, you water and invest time and energy, such as seminars and workshops, all of this equates to working in your garden.

DB: But before you work in the garden, you have to plant seeds and that’s what you are also doing.

GM: Right. I do actually call it working in the garden.

DB: See, you’re already a master gardener.

GM: I don’t know if we can ever truly be a master, there is always something more you can learn.

DB: With a positive attitude, that’s the key.

GM: That’s right. Thank you so much for being here.

Contact me if you have any questions. Elder Law is what we do!

Greg McIntyre

Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street

Shelby, NC 28150


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Greg McIntyre, founder of McIntyre Elder Law, is more than just an attorney. As a Navy Veteran, father to six kids, and a loving husband, he values family deeply. This drives his commitment to helping clients safeguard their futures and pass down legacies.

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