Bud Butera, 88, of Spring Garden Township has been repairing shoes since he was 14. These days he works as a part-time cobbler at Reineberg’s Shoes &
Bud Butera, 88, of Spring Garden Township has been repairing shoes since he was 14. These days he works as a part-time cobbler at Reineberg's Shoes & Shoe Repair in Springettsbury Township. "I'll work as long as I feel good," he says. Visit www.yorkdispatch.com for a slide show and video about Butera's work and how it keeps him young. (Randy Flaum — rflaum@yorkdispatch.com)

The sound of a hydraulic press rumbles in the background as Bud Butera fixes pads and wedges in a pair of orthopedic shoes.

Reaching to a shelf above the press, he pulls down a file box full of shoe prescriptions for thousands of customers, some who travel eight hours from North Carolina to Reineberg's Shoes & Shoe Repair in Springettsbury Township.

He reads a prescription and begins working on another pair of shoes, this time for a customer whose right leg is an inch shorter than the left.

Butera starts building up the heel of the right shoe, which will help the customer walk on an even keel.

That his is a dying trade is one of the main reasons the 88-year-old Spring Garden Township resident continues to work.

"There's hardly anyone who does this anymore. I just think of all those people who need the shoes, and that's why I keep coming in," Butera said.

Other than his three-year stint in the Navy during World War II, he has been fixing shoes in York County for the past 73 years.

"I enjoy doing it. I'm doing something that helps people, and I'm not breaking my neck," Butera said.

He works 15 to 16 hours a week at Reineberg's, serving as the store's cobbler every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

"I don't quit," Butera said. "I'll work as long as I feel good."

Not even a mini-stroke in December could keep him away. A doctor's order forced him to take a three-month medical leave, and Butera said he's looking forward to returning to work Tuesday.

"I really missed the work. I think it's important, and I know there are people who count on me," he said.

Part of a trend: He's one of many York County residents choosing to work past age 65.

It's a trend that began in 1990 — 21 years before the first baby boomers reached 65 — and is expected to continue, according to William Sholly, an analyst for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

"We're seeing steady increases every year. It's at a record high," he said.

For example, the most recent figures available from the state department show 16.8 percent of York County men 65 and older chose to work in 2012 — an increase from 14.1 percent in 1997.

More than 10 percent of women 65 and older chose to work in 2012, up from 6.8 percent in 1997.

As baby boomers age, the number of older workers will soar, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of workers 65 and older will increase 43 percent by 2018, according to the bureau.

The reasons: During the next four years, another big shift will be the increasing number of older workers who choose full-time jobs instead of part-time work, the agency predicts.

The bureau predicts 38 percent of older workers will choose part-time work and 62 percent will work full time.

Older workers in York County are finding the most jobs in education, retail, utilities, food service and health care, according to state statistics.

The reason people choose to keep working varies.

"People are living longer and taking better care of themselves, and they're able to work longer. Sixty-five isn't as old as it used to be," Sholly said.

Sometimes it's a financial decision.

"Because of the recession and some difficulties in the economy, they may not have the luxury of retiring early," he said.

Can't afford retirement: Fred Rosenzweig enjoys working, but the 69-year-old Spring Garden Township resident said he can't afford to fully retire.

About seven years ago he retired from his full-time job as a safety-equipment salesman for Lamco Safety Products in Hanover.

The job required a lot of travel and "put a lot of wear and tear on me and my vehicle," he said.

"Because of the competitiveness of the products, I realized I could make as much or more going on Social Security than selling," Rosenzweig said.

Since then, he's been collecting partial benefits and working at Sears in the York Galleria.

He works between 16 and 24 hours a week, and likes his job and employer.

"I feel I have to work as long as I can get up and get out of the house. My wife and I like to travel, and I was hoping when I got to this age, we would be able to. But because of medical insurance and things like that, I'm almost forced to work," Rosenzweig said.

Just not enough: Jessie Millbrand also imagined her later years would be a little different.

The 68-year-old York Township resident retired from her career as a nurse's aide and soon realized she couldn't live on retirement income or Social Security benefits.

"It's just not enough anymore," she said.

Millbrand launched Jessie's Catering last year and serves graduation parties, weddings, holidays and other events.

The self-employment gives her extra money and the flexibility she needs to manage her rheumatoid arthritis.

"I love to cook and feed people, but some days I just can't move. That's one of the hard parts of being past retirement age and continuing to work. Sometimes your body just can't do what you want to do," Millbrand said.

Best job in the world: Gladys Werner said she keeps working because she has the best job in the world.

"I get paid to shop," she said.

The 70-year-old Etters resident used to teach at a Catholic school in Dauphin County and now works as a secret shopper, evaluating retail and restaurant experiences throughout York, Lancaster, Adams and Dauphin counties.

Werner works about 20 hours a week and feels a sense of duty similar to that of Butera when he's fixing orthopedic shoes.

"I think of it as making sure people have the best service when they go to the store or get a bite to eat. Maybe someone will be a little nicer to them," she said.

But Werner confessed it's not always easy to keep up her energy.

"Sometimes you wake up and the joints don't work. It takes you 20 minutes just to get out of bed and start walking," she said.

Butera can relate. He had heart attacks and returned to work after he recovered.

What's his secret?

"Never work on one pair of shoes at a time," he said.

— Reach Candy Woodall at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.