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Pharmacy Alumnus Writes Retirement Planning Book

Trib Live | AandE

By Rege Behe

People planning to retire are always encouraged to make sure their finances are in order.

But sometimes overlooked is the emotional toll of getting ready for retirement. Drs. Patricia and Robert Gussin, co-authors of "What's Next for You: The Gussin Guide to Big Changes, Big Decisions, and Big Fun" (Oceanview Publishing), stress the importance of being mentally as well as financially prepared.

"It's the old problem: Change creates discomfort," the Gussins respond jointly via email in advance of their appearance April 22 at the Barnes & Noble on Duquesne University's campus. "We believe that no matter what our background, we should make choices based on a combination of our finances, our health, our energy and our passions."

Robert Gussin is a Pittsburgh native, a graduate of Duquesne University's School of Pharmacy and a former corporate vice president of science and technology and chief scientific officer for Johnson & Johnson. Patricia Gussin is board-certified in family medicine and held research-and-development positions at McNeil Consumer Products and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Pharmaceuticals. She is also a best-selling mystery novelist.

The Gussins say some people wait too long to try to diversify their interests when they retire. They didn't hesitate and now split their time between Longboat Key, Fla., and New Zealand. One of their passions? Vineyards, but not in Napa Valley, France or anywhere established.

"We decided to invest in the vineyards specifically in New Zealand because the industry was quite young in that country, and there was so much energy and excitement around grape-growing and wine-making," they say. "We jokingly say it must be the way America was during the gold rush."

But if one can't afford to invest in New Zealand vineyards, there are more affordable options closer to home. Quite close, as a matter of fact, with Pittsburgh regularly making the cut on lists of best places to retire, including one compiled by Forbes magazine in 2014.

Robert Gussin says the city has many advantages and attractions for retirees, notably how it projects "a feeling of smallness."

"The long-established population provides a sense of safety and security," he says. "There is a stability in the place and the people that doesn't exist everywhere. And the beautiful topography with the hills and rivers is icing on the cake. For retirees, Western Pennsylvania is full of opportunities. Its many universities offer performances and education for seniors. There's a plethora of theaters, museums and good restaurants. And there are more sports events and recreational sports opportunities than even the most avid sports fanatic can handle.

Mystery series

Patricia Gussin studied medicine at Wayne State University in Detroit in the late 1960s when the city was in the midst of a social upheaval. What she witnessed - the riots, the tensions, the voices struggling to be heard - stayed with her throughout a career in medicine and finally came to the surface when she started to write fiction.

"I created a protagonist (Laura Nelson) much like myself in those days, a mother with two young children starting medical school at the center of an inner city where anarchy reigned," Gussin says of her debut novel, "Shadow of Death" (Oceanview Publishing) released 2007.

The best-selling series - Gussin recently released the final book in the series, "After the Fall" - is based on fact. But the situations, the plot lines, the characters (mostly) are works of imagination.

"My medical career was the inspiration and provided the realistic framework to support the plot," she says, "but the story itself ­­- not that it couldn't have happened - is pure fiction. In all of my thrillers, medicine has played a role, provided a background, but imagination takes over from there."

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