Throughout nearly 40 years of work as a family doctor taking care of thousands of patients, Henry J. Marion, MD, has prescribed sound advice. He tells them staying busy as they age is best.
“The more you do, the better you function,” he said. “To reach the later decades of retirement, keep active and care about something.”
There’s no doubt Dr. Marion has taken a dose of his own medicine.
At age 60, the Lexington Medical Center physician started taking saxophone lessons.
“I had zero knowledge of music, but I always liked the saxophone,” he said. “Like anything else, you just have to keep at it.”
He steadily built a repertoire of 40 songs including everything from “Song for My Father” by Horace Silver to “All of Me” by John Legend.
Last year, at age 67, Dr. Marion decided to hang up his stethoscope and retire. He had spent the last 23 years at Lexington Family Practice Northeast, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.
“I enjoyed practicing medicine, but I’d been doing it since 1983 and decided it was time,” he said.
Dr. Marion’s daughter teaches second grade in Richland County; he started volunteering as an assistant in her classroom. And he made plans to attend archaeology and anthropology classes at the University of South Carolina because those subjects have always interested him.
But medicine kept calling him.
“I always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. That’s one of the reasons I went into medicine. And some things never change,” he said.
A particular interest was rural medicine. Early in his career, Dr. Marion worked at community health centers in Orangeburg and Fairfield Counties. Thinking there might be a way to balance retirement and medicine, Dr. Marion reached out to Lexington Medical Center Swansea Primary Care, a practice in the Lexington Medical Center physician network, and signed up to work there two days a week.
“There’s a need there. In rural medicine, you sit and talk to your patients and build a relationship with them. They have confidence in you because of that. The best repayment is when they call me and say, ‘Thank you. You made the right decision to help me.’”
Not surprisingly, many of Dr. Marion’s former patients have followed him to Swansea.
Sometimes, he brings his saxophone to the office, playing for nurses in the hallway or on the walking trail out back.
He also plays at community events, giving any donations he earns to the Lexington Medical Center Foundation’s breast cancer fund.
“As seniors, we have so much working knowledge and experience in life and professional careers. And we should share that. It would be a shame to hold onto it and not be able to use it. If you enjoy it, it’s never work.”