- Name: Gigi B.
- Location: St. Augustine, Florida
- Retired: 16 years
- Marital Status: Married
- Profession: Federal civil servant, museum curator, bookseller, and author
Gigi retired after a 27-year career serving the United States as a federal civil servant. She worked as a community center director, entertainment director, and special events coordinator. Her last few years included employment with the United States Air Force in Turkey and Korea. While in Turkey, she planned events for 9,000 military personnel and civilians. But her real passion led her to write a book and open a non-profit museum.
Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you?
Gigi: My husband and I run the Best Richardson African Diaspora Literature & Culture Museum. We’ve been rare booksellers since 1997 and added the museum in 2018. Most of my week is spent teaching genealogy and being a docent for museum tours.
Finding Your Retirement Passion
Retirement Awaits: Why did you open your bookstore and museum?
Gigi: My husband and I realized that many people did not know the history and talent of writers of African descent across the diaspora. When I attended graduate school, I learned about these writers. It was important to me to bring awareness to the people who were forbidden to read and write during colonialism, but then to showcase how they learned, thrived, and became proficient in literary skills. My favorite academic period is during the Harlem Renaissance.
Your Retirement Plan
Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?
Gigi: We did. Our federal pensions helped us plan. We also still receive income from running the museum.
Best Part About Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement?
Gigi: We love to travel! Since we don’t have to go to a 9-to-5 job, we can travel when we want and for how long we want. It’s nice to not have to worry about job restrictions. This also gives me plenty of free time to work on genealogy.
Retirement Passion Project
Retirement Await: How did you become interested in genealogy?
Gigi: I became interested in genealogy when I attended family reunions and realized there were more stories and histories to be told that the family had previously documented. When I retired from civil service in 2007, I was able to devote my time to genealogy. It is rewarding to discover my ancestors going back to 1619 in Jamestown and 1569 in West Sussex, England. I am a member of Daughters of the American Revolution and many other hereditary societies that celebrate these ancestors. I often connect with new family members and learn much about my ancestors, many of whom fought in the Revolutionary War.
I published my first book in 2015, Thomas the Melungeon: His Locust Family of Free Persons of Color Civil and Revolutionary War Patriots. This book is both genealogical and historical. It is about my great great grandfather, a free man of color who entered the Civil War on his 18th birthday, and his family’s stories.
Challenges In Retirement
Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?
Gigi: We recently moved, so finding new friends has been challenging.
Things I Wish I Would Have Known
Retirement Awaits: What are a few things you wish someone would have told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?
Gigi: We wish someone had instilled upon us a good place to retire that meets our needs. We found it a few years ago and moved there recently.
Our new location meets our needs because of the documented and celebrated history in St. Augustine. Since I am a historian, many examples of different cultures are marked here as the oldest city in America.
Best Retirement Vacation
Retirement Awaits: What is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?
Gigi: While we’ve traveled all over the world, I really enjoy New Orleans. We like to visit because of the music, art, history, and walkability. This is our favorite place to spend our birthdays.
If you’re in St. Augustine, stop by and say “Hi” to Gigi at Best Richardson African Diaspora Literature & Culture Museum.
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