Second Act
Page 4 of 5

The Muffin Man
Bill Moore '70

Driving south on Interstate 495 in Massachusetts, headed for the coast, Bill Moore '70 knew there was no turning back. He had 40 Japanese koi fish in the back of his pickup truck, headed to their new home on Martha's Vineyard, where Moore had recently constructed a pond on the grounds of the Admiral Benbow Inn. "I just put them in a bunch of buckets, snapped on the lids and drove like hell," says Moore, who was starting a new life on the Vineyard along with his fish.

For decades, Moore had worked as a chemical engineer, mostly for Polariod. He had a long commute and put in 12-hour days six or seven days a week. But he loved his job, thrived on the creativity and the challenge. It was what he was trained to do. Then he got laid off. He was 58. "It was tough to find a job at that point," says Moore. "Most of the work in my field is going overseas now. I was older. We started trying to figure out what we could do."

When Moore and his wife Mary hit on the bed and breakfast idea, the only thing they knew was that it made sense to choose a tourist destination. They found the Admiral Benbow Inn by chance one day, flipping through a real estate magazine as they were taking the ferry out to the Vineyard. Scheduled to look at another property that day, they made a last-minute decision to tour the Admiral Benbow while they were there--and fell in love with the gracious 1883 house.

The next day they made an offer. That was mid-May. On June 1, the new bed-and-breakfast owners opened the inn for business. "It was a snap decision," admits Moore. But we had to do it. The season was coming." Moore plunged right in, swinging a hammer, replacing broken toilets, fixing electrical problems and knocking down the occasional wall--often racing against the clock to have the work done before guests arrived.

"Something always needs fixing," Moore admits with a touch of understatement, making casual references to a new roof and new heating system. But he and his wife love their new joint career. Mary handles marketing, sales and design, using skills from her previous job designing baby gear for large retailers. Bill crunches the numbers and stays on top of the endless to-do list. Both of them enjoy getting to know their guests. "We don't make much," says Moore, who was used to a $100,000-plus salary. "But I'm relaxed and much happier."

These days, Moore wears jeans and flannel shirts to work. His only commute in the morning is down the stairs to the kitchen, where he bakes muffins for his guests. In the afternoon he might tackle a few repair projects, chat with guests on the front porch, or entertain his grandchild, who lives nearby. And when the weather's nice, he can often be found wandering the grounds, puttering in the quiet gardens, checking up on his koi in their beautiful new home.

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