PLACENTIA, Calif. — There’s a saying that goes, “Age is inevitable. Aging isn’t.” Just take a look at Phyllis White who is still putting the pedal to the metal.

“I don’t see me retiring unless I physically can’t maneuver,” said 87-year-old White.

She’s been working 40 hours a week for nearly 70 years. On Mondays through Fridays and occasionally on weekends, White can be found in the back workshop of her family’s business, White’s Draperies and More.

“I’m always around sewing machines. It’s part of me,” said White.

White’s mother taught her how to sew at a very young age. She’d stay up at night with her as a child and help her mother sew.

White and her late husband, Walter White, opened their business in 1951. Their shop was originally in the Whittier area for 40 years and eventually moved to Placentia, in 1991. White would sew while her husband sold and installed the drapes. Since then their son, Kevin White, has taken over his dad’s role.

“Probably the worst thing I do is just start talking to him and he’s deep in estimating a job or something and doesn’t want to be bothered, but it just comes out of my mouth,” said White.

She may be an outlier for working at her age, but statistics show that there may be more people like her in the near future. About 25% of adults age 65 and older are still working. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number is expected to increase, making it the fastest-growing group of workers in the country. Some people continue to work in retirement because they need the money and social security is not enough to keep them afloat. White says she is working to keep her mentally stimulated and for her health.

“As my mother aged, dementia came into it,” said White.

She remembers her mother’s diagnoses being difficult for her family when it came time to figure out how to best take care of their mom. So when White got older, she decided to sell her house and move into Morningside of Fullerton, a retirement community three miles away from her shop. The community provides various clubs and activities for its residents to keep physically and mentally active.

“For my kids’ sake, I think it’s great. They don’t have to make a decision and I’m very pleased with that,” said White.

While White admits she is slowing down a bit, she plans to keep working for as long as she can. White and some of her neighbors picked up side projects during the start of the pandemic which include making masks for residents and staffers at Morningside.


Together, the residents including White, have made more than 2,000 masks.

White’s Draperies and More is located on 1816 N. Placentia Ave., in Placentia.

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