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Video: Trading Places: Ann Curry's father, Bob

By Ann Curry
NBC News
updated 2/15/2007 7:35:54 PM ET 2007-02-16T00:35:54

At 77, my dad refuses to act his age.

Bob Curry: When I'm 120, I'm going to be shot by an 18-year-old jealous husband!

He volunteers as a hospital candy striper, teaches tai chi and enjoys poetry.

Bob Curry: “On the road to Mandalay, where the old flotilla lay. And the dawn comes up like thunder out of China across the bay.” Now, that’s Kipling.

And he ballroom dances — with lots of friends, and a Zorba-like passion.

You might not guess he has a defibrillator and a pacemaker. Like so many, he suffers from America's No. 1 killer, heart disease.

A career Navy man, his first heart pains came when one of his five children died in the line of duty. His first heart attack, shortly after his wife of 53 years died. He almost gave up.

Ann Curry: You asked me once, Dad, “What do I have to live for, what do I do with myself?”

Bob Curry: The thing is, you have to realize that life is for the living. I thought I had something to offer. And maybe, maybe I wasn't ready to go yet.

With a little encouragement, he discovered he could feel useful.

Bob Curry: When I feel like I'm doing something for someone else that they value, it makes you feel so good to want to do more.

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And he allowed his broken heart to fall in love again.

Bob Curry: I think people at an age, and especially if they've lost a spouse, they close up themselves. And to be ready for a certain type of relationship, you have to be very open with yourself.

Dad discovered later that widowers who remarry, according to numerous studies, live longer than those who don't.

Ann Curry: She just makes you happy.

Bob Curry: Makes me happy. And I make her happy. When she laughs, at the dance, you would think she was 16 years old.

He looks for love, most of all, but also for fun, and ways to be useful. Adding time to one treasured life, among many in America. 

Ann Curry: I think you did darn all right.

Bob Curry: I’m quite proud of you, yeah.

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