Local personality Kevin Dean keeps up the pace--and then some
When Kevin Dean retired from his job as a radio news announcer in the spring of 2017, he was looking forward to a life of leisure and travel.
After a 40-year career in broadcast journalism and public relations, Dean was ready to embrace a slightly slower pace.
"I thought I'd be doing some extensive traveling and relaxing," Dean said. "I knew I was going to do something, but certainly not what or when."
These days, Dean—a former WDAZ-TV news anchor, Grand Forks' public information officer and KNOX radio news announcer—is busier than ever, juggling an assortment of paid and unpaid responsibilities that keep him on the go.
At 62, Dean is working part-time as a limousine driver for the Elegant Limousine company and a courier for Altru Health System. He also sells beer at concession stands during sporting events.
For the UND medical school, he's a "standardized patient," helping med students hone their interview and physical exam skills and learn to diagnose diseases and chronic conditions. Standardized patients pretend to have certain symptoms.
He's also a member of an active barbershop music group, Fallcreek Quartet, which has entertained audiences for almost 22 years. And once a week he travels to Fargo to sing with the Great Plains Harmony barbershop chorus, he said.
On weekday mornings, he and his wife, Lacey, who's also retired, take care of their 1-year-old grandson.
There's at least one explanation for his jam-packed schedule.
"People find out you're retired and they ask you do things," he said. "I have trouble saying no."
In March 2017, Dean left his last full time time position, announcing news for KNOX-AM, after working there almost two years.
Over time, what started as a couple of hours a day had expanded to become almost a full time gig.
In his role as news announcer, he had responsibilities that Mother Nature could not thwart.
"When there are blizzards and people are being told to stay home and shelter in place, you're up and off to work," he said. "I liked the work, I was trained to do the work, but I didn't want that pace anymore. I didn't have the desire anymore."
He called it quits, but soon found out that too much leisure time did not suit him.
"After about two weeks of waking up and realizing, I don't have to go to work, I applied for a part-time job at Altru as a courier," he said.
Benefits of 'busy'
Not everyone of retirement age wants to have a schedule as crowded as Dean's, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
"It keeps me young at heart and, maybe, young in the mind," he said. "It keeps me busy."
But not too busy.
With all his jobs, he relishes the freedom to accept or reject requests for his time and talent.
"I have the ability to say no," he said. "That gives me the freedom I wanted."
Dean is content with his collection of jobs, but others don't always get it.
"I had a guy tell me the other day, 'You just don't understand the meaning of the word 'retirement,' " he said.
"I know too many people who retire fully and two years later, they're dead, basically because they don't do anything," he said. Leading up to retirement, "you're going 100 miles an hour and suddenly stop, it's like hitting a brick wall."
Dean's upbringing prepared him to live fully engaged. In Carroll, Iowa, he grew up in "a family of workaholics," he said.
Later, his work as a journalist "was stressful, but I work better under stress," he said. "That drive was instilled in me early, and I continue to keep that. I still have that 'want' to do things that are beneficial and enjoyable."
No longer muted
Dean also is enjoying the newfound freedom to express views on politics and issues of the day—views he suppressed while working in broadcast journalism and for the city.
"One of the things I was never able to do, as a journalist, was to take a position on issues and candidates," he said. "I worked to keep personal bias out of the news. I'm proud of that."
Some questioned his reticence.
"People would say, 'You don't have opinions' or 'You're neutral,' but I'd say, 'No, I have opinions, I just don't make them public.' "
As a journalist, he hoped people saw him as "a person who, when they turned on TV to watch, they could trust what I told them—not like so much of the news is today," he said. "It saddens me to see what's on as news."
Now in retirement, Dean has accepted the role of campaign manager for B.J. Maxon, a candidate for Grand Forks County sheriff.
"I did not take that job lightly," he said, noting that he knew and had worked with all seven of the initial sheriff candidates. After the June primary election, the race narrowed to two candidates, Maxon and Andy Schneider.
In his various roles, Dean brings the same attitude and work ethic to whatever responsibility he takes on, he said.
"When I do a job—whether it's a volunteer job or a paid job—I want to do it 100 percent or I don't want to do it at all."
Above everything else, though, it could the influence he's had on people that may be most important.
"You do some things in your life that, hopefully, are altruistic," he said.
"In life, if you have touched people in a positive way, that's so gratifying."