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Retirement quotations

50 quotes for retirement speeches

By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 05-24-2021

If you're looking for retirement quotations of wit, wisdom, or a combination of both, to include in a retirement or farewell speech, you should find something apt in this large and varied collection. 

Please help yourself!

Image: collage of 6 images: 5 retirement quotes for speeches and 1 label saying 50 quotes for retirement speeches

Where the author is known, their name is shown below the quotation. If you choose to use their words, do acknowledge them.

Retire? I'm going to stay in show business until I'm the only one left.

- George F. Burns (American comedian 1896-1996)

Image: wilderness landscape. Text: Goethe quotation on needing other people regardless of being reclusive or retiring.

People may live as much retired from the world as they like, but sooner or later they find themselves debtor or creditor to some one.

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German playwright, poet, novelist and dramatist. 1749-1832)

Retirement: When you quit working just before your heart does.

- Anonymous

Retirement is the ugliest word in the language.

- Ernest Hemingway (American novelist and short-story writer, Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1954, 1899-1961)

A lot of our friends complain about their retirement. We tell 'em to get a life.

- Larry Laser

When a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband but only half the income.

- Chi Chi Rodriguez (Puerto Rican Golfer, b.1935)

Image: Drawing of an African American boxer. Text: George Foreman quote: It isn't a question of what age I want to retire but at what income.

The question isn't at what age I want to retire, it's at what income.

- George Foreman (American Boxer, b.1949)

Age is only a number, a cipher for the records. A man can't retire his experience. He must use it. Experience achieves more with less energy and time.

- Bernard Mannes Baruch

He who laughs last at the boss's jokes probably isn't far from retirement.

- Anonymous

When men reach their sixties and retire, they go to pieces. Women go right on cooking.

- Gail Sheehy (American writer, b.1937)

There are some who start their retirement long before they stop working.

- Robert Half

I have never liked working. To me a job is an invasion of privacy.

- Danny McGoorty

Image: Black and white drawing of Bette Davis. Text: Bette Davis quote - I am not going to retire while I still have my legs and my make up box.

I will not retire while I've still got my legs and my make-up box.

- Bette Davis (American actress, 1908-1989)

Retirement at sixty-five is ridiculous. When I was sixty-five I still had pimples.

- George F. Burns (American comedian 1896 - 1996)

A man is known by the company that keeps him on after retirement age.

- Anonymous

I really stay busy in retirement. I often have to cancel my golf games on the weekends to go play in tennis tournaments.

- Richard Davies

The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does.

- Anonymous

Welfare is not a retirement plan.

- Anonymous

Image: Early Florida travel poster. Text- Glen Le Grice quote: Florida is God's waiting room.

Florida is God's waiting room.

- Glenn Le Grice

There is an enormous number of managers who have retired on the job.

- Anonymous

Retirement is when the living is easy and the payments are hard.

- Anonymous

An elegant sufficiency, content,
Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books,
Ease and alternate labor, useful life,
Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven!

- James Thomson, 1700-1748

A successful artist of any kind has to work so hard that she is justified in refusing to lay down her scepter until she is placed on the bier.

- Dame Edith Evans

It has become clear to most of us that we don't want "our father's retirement"; the only thing that needs to be retired is old ideas about retirement.

Our greatest fear and insecurity for our later years should not be about the Social Security system or about being broke but rather about being without purpose and meaningful work.

- Mitch Anthony

Image: forest. Text: Sooner or later I am going to die, but I am not going to retire. Margaret Mead.

Sooner or later I'm going to die, but I'm not going to retire.

- Margaret Mead (American anthropologist, 1901-1978)

Retirement is wonderful. It's doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it.

- Gene Perret

Have you ever been out for a late autumn walk in the closing part of the afternoon, and suddenly looked up to realize that the leaves have practically all gone? And the sun has set and the day gone before you knew it, and with that a cold wind blows across the landscape? That's retirement.

- Stephen Leacock

As to that leisure evening of life, I must say that I do not want it. I can conceive of no contentment of which toil is not to be the immediate parent.

- Anthony Trollope

At retirement, switching from “I must” to “I want” leaves me puzzled and uneasy.

- Mason Cooley

In retirement, only money and symptoms are consequential.

- Mason Cooley

In retirement, I look for days off from my days off.

- Mason Cooley

Image: Lord Chesterfield - source Wikimedia Commons. Text - quote: Lord Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years, but we don't choose to have it known.

Lord Tyrawley and I have been dead these two years, but we don't choose to have it known.

- Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) British statesman

I mean to retire, where nobody will have heard about my special skills. And conversation is mainly about the weather.

- Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

'Tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age,
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburdened crawl toward death.

- William Shakespeare (1564–1616), British dramatist & poet. Lear, in King Lear, Act 1, sc.1

Being sixty-five ... became a crossroads. We said, we have nothing to lose, so we can raise hell.

- Maggie Kuhn

I retired from work and I didn’t want to just sit there and do nothing; I don’t knit and I don’t like TV and I’m no gardener.

- Margaret Demers (b. c. 1917), U.S. college student. At 76-year-old the retired office worker was explaining why she had enrolled as an undergraduate student at Worcester State College in Massachusetts.

Image: Gilded angel. Text: Heaven, that’s my retirement plan. Anonymous

Heaven, that’s my retirement plan.

- Anonymous

I think retirement beats the heck out of life after death, that’s for sure.

- Martina Navratilova

When some fellers decide to retire nobody knows the difference.

- Kin Hubbard 1868-1930, American humorist, journalist

I’m not in the speech making business nowadays. I’m following the advice of an old mountain woman who said: ‘When I walks, I walk slowly. When I sits, I sits loosely. And when I feel a worry coming on, I just go to sleep.'

- Lyndon Baines Johnson

Retirement, a time to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

- Catherine Pulsifer

Image: Las Vegas lights, playing cards etc. Text: Retirement is like a long vacation in Las Vegas. The goal is to enjoy it the fullest, but not so fully that you run out of money.

Retirement is like a long vacation in Las Vegas. The goal is to enjoy it the fullest, but not so fully that you run out of money.

-Jonathan Clements

I have a lifetime appointment and I intend to serve it. I expect to die at 110, shot by a jealous husband.

- Thurgood Marshall 1908-1993, American Judge

Retire from work, but not from life.

- M.K. Soni

It's with joy and sadness that we say farewell tonight
No one more loved or respected has earned this right.

- Charley D

Working people have a lot of bad habits, but the worst of these is work.

- Clarence Darrow

Image: drawing of Simone de Beauvoir - source Wikimedia Commons. Text: Retirement may be looked upon either as a prolonged holiday or as a rejection, a being thrown on to the scrap-heap.

Retirement may be looked upon either as a prolonged holiday or as a rejection, a being thrown on to the scrap-heap.

- Simone de Beauvoir (French Writer and feminist, 1908-1986)

And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

- Abraham Lincoln

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.

- Sir Winston Churchill

Image: Stylized laurel wreath. Text: Helen Hayes quote: People who refuse to rest honorably on their laurels when they reach retirement age seem very admirable to me.

People who refuse to rest honorably on their laurels when they reach retirement age seem very admirable to me.

- Helen Hayes

Get a hand to write your retirement speech

Image: psychedelic crocodile. Text: How to write a retirement speech. See you later alligator. In a while crocodile.

Use these easily followed step by step retirement speech guidelines with examples. 

You'll find how to brainstorm, starter headlines, themes to use, notes about tone and the length of  your speech ...

Read a sample speech

Read this retirement speech sample for three reasons:

  1. To see the guidelines in action. 
  2. To see how a quote selected from this page of retirement quotations can be woven into the text.
  3. To give you an idea or starting point for your own speech.

 Other useful pages to help with your speech:

Figuring out what you want to say and writing your speech is one half of the job. The second half is actually delivering it in front of your audience.

Image: Girl with angel wings, levitating.
Text: How to rehearse a speech properly and do so much more than wing it.

Here is one of two pages to help you present your speech with pzazz, style, panache, confidence, and flair, in other words, well.

The second page works in tandem with the first. Use both of them!