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My Contribution

Retiree Follows His Passion

By Helen Yoshida


Bill Levy stands in front of a movie poster for
director John Ford’s 1948 film “3 Godfathers.”

When Bill Levy, a former New Jersey special education teacher, discovered that students in his high school resource room history classes were having trouble learning from textbooks, he showed them movies to illustrate the period in history they were studying.

“There’s a wonderful scene in the movie Gettysburg. Joshua Chamberlin leads the Maine Union soldiers in a bayonet charge when they run out of bullets, and it’s just a thrilling scene. I told my students what to look for in that scene. Many of them over the years have told me that they have visited Gettysburg and they always remember the experience of seeing that particular clip.”
Following retirement, Levy wanted to continue sharing movies, especially those from the 1930s to 1950s. He began discussing them at assisted living centers and with senior groups.

 Today, Levy’s passion for movies from Hollywood’s Golden Era has expanded beyond viewing and discussion. He has also written two books. John Ford: A Bio-Bibliography, profiles the only American director to win four Academy Awards for Best Director, and Lest We Forget: The John Ford Stock Company, explores the large company of actors and actresses who starred in Ford’s movies from the early 1900s to the 1960s. Levy has also written a third book about his favorite author Nevil Shute, some short stories and a screenplay titled “The Battle of the Adobe Walls.” One of his proudest achievements is a monthly column for New Jersey’s Fifty Plus magazine about “forgotten gems” of Hollywood’s Golden Era.
“I sit down [to write the column] and it’s sort of a discipline of meeting the deadlines. I try and keep three to four ahead,” says Levy, who found that talking in groups and being organized—skills he developed as a teacher—are useful as he follows his passion of writing and talking about film.

Each month, Levy meets with other retired teachers at a local pizzeria where the group discusses their passions.

“We call it ROMEOs, Retired Old Men Eating Out. What I’ve found interesting is that all of us have been following our passions. One guy is into antiques, and has an antique store and another guy is devoted to photography. Another has traveled all over the world. Speaking of traveling, there’s one member of ROMEOS who has been to all seven continents since his retirement! Almost everyone I know has gotten involved in their passion and I think it’s a wonderful way at this stage in your life to do that.”

For an overview of Levy’s work, click here.


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