My Dad’s Retirement Note

My old man (Phil Zahnd) wrote this on October 2009 to his colleagues in the Federal government. He forwarded it to me. He retired December 31st, 2009, and not four months later was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer at the age of 63. Defying the odds, he fought for another 14 months before passing on June 20, 2011, eight days before my 37th birthday. I was proud of you dad, and I reckon you’d be proud of what I’ve accomplished.

I actually started Cozy later in 2011 after I saw my dad’s health rapidly decline. He had postponed so many dreams to travel, fish, play golf in order to provide for the six of us, and when he finally earned his comfortable retirement, it was stolen from him.

I had been running a “lifestyle” business UX consulting company at that point which was doing quite well, but seeing his ultimate path made me change my mind. Instead of running a lifestyle business until I retired, I wanted to crush myself for a few years, try to make a bunch of money, and get the fuck out. I accomplished my goal, and now I’m evaluating what work means in this new world, and how I should bring meaning and depth to my life. I hope to figure it out quickly, because reading my dad’s words in hindsight are frankly terrifying for me now, having gone through a kidney transplant and now having a stent put into my heart as of three days ago.

After much wrangling and gnashing of teeth, I have made a life-altering decision – that being, I’m retiring from Federal service at the end of this calendar year.  I could go into a lengthy monologue regarding all the catalysts leading to this decision, not the least of which is my family’s health situation, but I find it unnecessary.  Suffice it to say that my wife and I are getting no younger.

I would like to expound on a few things about my career with the USDOL.  It’s been a wonderful experience.  This is not to say there have been no difficult times or strife.  I’ve always just tried to work hard and do the right thing.

I started my career with the USDOL in January of 1972.  This was after serving a stint with the US Navy and graduating from the University of North Alabama.  I worked as an auditor for what is now OIG for about nine years.  I left OIG in 1980 for my current position as the Atlanta Regional Cost Negotiator.  

I have truly enjoyed working for the Division of Cost Determination.  The staff has been so nice.  I have had the opportunity to travel around the country doing presentations on indirect costs and cost allocation and performing site negotiations with grantees.  The friendly and interesting acquaintances I’ve made with ETA and other Federal partner agencies, as well as the grantee community, have been plentiful.

I cannot leave out a salute to my brothers and sister, the other Regional Cost Negotiators.  They have always “had my back”.  I send out special thanks to Steve Cosminski, my confidant.  He should be known as the “Champion of Tax Cost Sharing Plans”.

I will miss everyone.  With one of my favorite quotes, I leave Federal service:

“All we have is time.  What we must do is decide what to do with the time we have.”

Anchors aweigh!!!

Phil Zahnd

Regional Cost Negotiator


Rock-n-Roll Dad, me, coconuts

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