Retirement for some means spending time in a garden or hobbies.
For Henry McGill, however, it means he works harder than he did before he retired.
At 82 years of age his day would probably stagger a man half his age.
He is up every morning by 4 AM preparing to ride a school bus that leaves at 6 AM and starts picking up students before 7 AM.
Once McGill finishes that job, which pays him a small stipend, his day is not over.
He volunteers at Havana Middle School and other schools across the county as a reserve officer with the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office during school hours.
That time is spent talking to students about how to be better citizens by learning to respect each other, their parents, teachers and law enforcement.
He talks to them about the growing problem with bullying.
McGill said it was important to him for children to understand how vital education should be to them, another topic when he talks with students.
He volunteers as well with the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office where he works with Teen Court and Juvenile
He has many stories about visiting local families and working with their children.
People don’t realize today that there are children out there with no food in their home.
It’s hard, he said, for those children to study on an empty stomach.
On many occasions, McGill said, he has been in homes where there was no food to eat.
Thankfully, he said, during school days children are given two meals a day; that is, providing they go to school.
In one recent instance over the holidays, McGill said he found two young children in a home who had not eaten in several days.
In this day and time it is hard to believe that such a thing could be going on, but it does, he added.
He helped them and has made sure they were in school.
This is not an isolated issue, he explained. There are others who are still living from meal to meal.
One of McGill’s passions has been helping to change young people’s lives.
Since 2006, McGill has been taking young people on Saturday jail tours.
The tours, he explained, are not just for kids who are in trouble. He takes all kind of students from 8-18.
Their parents must sign a permission slip before he can give them the tour.
It is an eye-opener, he said, for most of the 1,700-plus kids that have made the tour.
The vast majority of the students leave the tour with a new appreciation of what happens when you break the law.
McGill has a notebook he carries with him that chronicles what has happened over the years.
In that notebook are letters he has received from many of the students who took his tour. Here are a few excerpts from some of those letters to McGill:
• “I will never forget the sound of hearing those doors close ... this is more evidence that you should think before you act.”
• “Always keep your pants up and your shirt tail in ... obey your parents ... getting an education is important.”
• “Education is important and it can keep you out of trouble.”
• “I’ve learned that the jail is no place I want to be because they only have 157 beds.”
• “I learned from the tour that I don’t want to end up there.”
One student wrote about McGill saying, “He cares about my grades and helps me to stay on track. He is a good person with a good heart.”
McGill considers himself an advocate for children and his retirement lifestyle is a testament to that.
Sheriff Morris Young has nothing but accolades for McGill saying that there are hundreds of children that he has helped over the years that have stayed out of trouble and are leading productive lives.
It is great, Sheriff Young said, to know that you have someone of his caliber assisting you.
Sheriff Young said that McGill’s enthusiasm is wonderful and he goes everyday to help someone.
“It is amazing to see him work,” Sheriff Young said of McGill.
McGill retired after 40 years from Sprint in 2002. Prior to that he worked as a law enforcement officer at FAMU and worked 28 years part-time at Bell Chevrolet while with Sprint.
McGill and his wife, Shirley, have four children and one by his previous marriage, with nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Shirley McGill is a Havana town council member.
When asked how he keeps up such a pace, Henry McGill responded saying, “I do it because I love it; I want to see the children be successful.”
He ended with this comment, “I want to help every child I can to be successful.”