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Joe Murray jumps for joy by skydiving on his 78th birthday

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Joe Murray jumps for joy by skydiving on his 78th birthday

Nashville, Tenn. — Joe Murray marked his 78th birthday by jumping out of an airplane ( He was joined by his buddies he met at a men’s retirement group at FiftyForward, a Nashville nonprofit organization supporting adults 50 and older.

Upon landing, he commented about how fun the experience was and then quickly added a nod to his wife saying, “Connie, I am on the ground now. You can relax.”

Not only is Murray’s quest to complete things on his “bucket list” compelling, his wife encourages him by saying, “It’s his life. He has to do what he has to do.” In fact, his bucket list item is also a FiftyForward First – a new experience whether simple or complex — completed after the age of 50.

“We should all be learning and doing new things,” says Sallie Hussey, executive director of FiftyForward. “Life looks different for many once you’re 50, but there is no reason to lose your zest for life. For so many adults, this is the time when they have the desire and opportunity to do things they may not have been able to do when they were younger due to financial limitations or family commitments. Joe is a shining example of how we should love life at 50+.”

According to Murray, this exploration is something that has been “nipping at his heels” for years but he could never quite work it into his schedule. He says, “I now have time and a little money. This is perfect timing for me.”

A self-professed adventure seeker who sometimes has a little anxiety, Murray said completing these items gives him confidence and a sense of pride. At 78, he is also working on getting his license to fly a glider plane.

For most of his life, Murray has been fascinated by all things mechanical. From the time he was three-years-old he was infatuated with model airplanes and all things aviation. Upon graduating from high school, he volunteered to serve in the U.S. Air Force for 13 years and today he stays in touch with his fellow veterans. This year marks their 56th annual reunion.

As an older adult seeking to expand his life experiences, Murray began his flight exploration by taking a ground course to learn to fly a small plane, a Cessna 172 engine prop to be exact. While seeking his pilot’s license for that specific aircraft he learned some of his medications would prevent him from flying a plane with an engine. Not one to despair, he found his way to the world of glider planes which do not have such stringent regulations. Now he is soaring to and jumping from new heights.

When sharing about his experience, he is effusive. “I can’t wait to go up again … my third glider lesson (at Chilhowee Airport just outside of Chattanooga), is right around the corner.” Murray’s eyes twinkle as he shares that he has learned a great deal from his instructor especially when he simply suggested, “follow that hawk, he will take you to the currents.”

So continues Joe’s life of adventure. He challenges everyone to “get out and do what you gotta do.”


About FiftyForward

Established in 1956, FiftyForward supports, champions and enhances life for those 50 and older. As a nonprofit operating seven lifelong learning centers –- two in Williamson and five in Davidson County -– FiftyForward offers educational, health and wellness, arts and volunteer programs to engage older adults. FiftyForward also provides comprehensive supportive services and access to resources including FiftyForward Adult Day Services, FiftyForward Fresh/Meals on Wheels as well as the FiftyForward Care Team offering care assessment and services for older adults. FiftyForward Travel offers adventures (regional and international) and the Senior Center for the Arts and The Larry Keeton Theatre, a subsidiary of FiftyForward, feature performing arts for all ages. Get social with us – friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Learn more about FiftyForward resources and volunteer opportunities by visiting:

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