Former Wright Patterson Air Force Base propulsion engineer Mark Reitz lives in Kettering and retired at a relatively young age to reap the rewards of more time for passions like woodworking, bicycling and babysitting his grandson. But he also ramped up his regular visits to Community Blood Center (CBC) to donate platelets, and on Friday, Jan. 17 Mark celebrated his milestone 300th lifetime blood donation.
“I started out donating whole blood back when you used to take the Bloodmobile out to the base, back in the late ‘70’s and early 80’s,” he said. “They got me switched over to apheresis about 10 years ago.”
Automated donations of platelets and plasma require more time, and Mark was glad to give it, even when busy with work. Retirement allowed him to end 2013 with a flourish, determined to make his full 24 annual platelet donations by the end of the year, and launch 2014 with his milestone 100th donation.
“I retired last June after 36 years as a civilian engineer working in the Propulsion Lab,” he said. “Almost immediately they hired me back (for consulting), but the longer I’ve been away, the easier it is to get involved in other things. We have a grandson and we babysit Thursday and Fridays. And I have more time to donate, so now I try to come down once a week.”
Mark jokes that his wife wants him out of the house more doing more volunteer work. They are both believers in giving back to the community, especially in times of need. They made three annual trips to Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, working with Habitat for Humanity. “We’d help basically rebuilding homes down there,” Mark said.
But after his milestone donation Friday Mark had a clear mission for the rest of the day. “I’ll be home babysitting!” he said.