In 1995 Barry E. Wilder, 71, retired as a New York special education teacher and spent several years traveling in an RV until he and his wife eventually settled in the Rio Grande Valley.
Today he spends his time watching his beloved New York Yankees, volunteering at the Humane Society and caring for his 4-year-old poodle, Mickey.
After retiring, Wilder, his wife Janet and two poodles traveled across the country in an RV. Over the years they have followed the Lewis and Clark Trail, been to every Canadian province in the Yukon Territory and visited all but one state capitol building.
Wilder has been married to his wife for about 27 years. They met camping with Parents Without Partners. She was also a Yankees fan.
In 1998 Wilder became a Winter Texan, living in Rio Hondo for the season because of favorable Valley weather. He said health problems eventually led them to settle permanently in 2005. Today they live just outside the city limits west of Harlingen.
Wilder has volunteered with the Harlingen Humane Society since about the year 2000. He says he has two passions, the New York Yankees and animals. At the shelter he has helped walk dogs, worked in the office and also fosters young kittens.
“They bring in kittens that are too young to get shots, so they have to euthanize them,” Wilder said. “I said I can’t see that happening.”
Well into his retirement years, Wilder has not stopped traveling. The couple plans to visit that last capitol building in Olympia, Wash., next summer. He fondly remembers spending his past birthday with more than a dozen family members watching his favorite team.
“For my 71st birthday we celebrated at Yankee stadium,” Wilder said. “The Yankees even won the game for me.”