Going To Extremes With Impossible Schemes

March 4th is famously known as the only calendar date that is also a military command. It just so happened that I attended the 105th birthday party for a WWII veteran on March 4, 2022.

“And if you should survive to a hundred and five
Look at all you’ll derive out of bein’ alive
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.”1

Robert Henry Doolan was born on March 22, 1917, in Cincinnati’s West End. He graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1935. The attack on Pearl Harbor inspired him to enlist in the Army Air Corps in 1941, and he graduated as a second lieutenant navigator the following year.

First Lieutenant Doolan served his country during WWII in the Army Air Corps as a member of the 326th Bomb Squadron, 92nd bomb group.

During his 13th mission as a navigator on a B-17 Flying Fortress, German fighter planes shot him down, forcing him to emergency-land in Holland. Doolan and another airman, co/pilot Donald Elbert Weir, spent 21 days attempting to escape back to England, shifting between safe houses, with aid from the Dutch resistance before being captured. As they entered the safe house door in Rotterdam, Doolan and Weir were knocked unconscious by members of Schutzstaffel, a Nazi paramilitary organization. They were gagged and handcuffed. Bob told me, “They push you here, they push you there, with a gun on your back all the time.” Upon capture they were taken to a prison camp.

He spent two years in the Stalag Luft III prison camp which was made famous by the 1963 film The Great Escape. (To read the thrilling actual history of the real escape visit this: https://www.history.com/news/great-escape-wwii-nazi-stalag-luft-iii).

Of his time in the prisoner of war camp, he had few things to say by way of complaint. “You miss the most what you miss that day,” Doolan said. “Obviously you miss your family or a sweetheart, but if you get hungry enough, you don’t think about anything else but food.”2

“Doolan was evacuated from the camp with other POWs in January, 1945, by the Germans, to avoid the Soviet Red Army, where they were marched and moved by horse carts and train cars to a new camp at Moosburg, Germany. The Moosburg prison camp was liberated by General George Patton and Doolan returned to the United States in 1945.”3

When Doolan returned home to Cincinnati, he married Dolores Ann Abbott. They raised three children. Doolan graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Doolan and Dolores were married 71 years. She died in 2017.

Back on March 4, 2022, myself and fifty or more people gathered to celebrate Bob Doolan’s 105th birthday. Being “young at heart” he entertained us with stories and song. He heartedly sang these lyrics:

“Fairy tales can come true
It can happen to you if you’re young at heart
For it’s hard, you will find
To be narrow of mind if you’re young at heart.”4

(To hear Robert Doolan tell his own story here is a link to an interview he gave on his 100th birthday: https://www.wvxu.org/history/2017-03-08/local-veteran-former-pow-robert-doolan-turns-100-this-month-and-shares-his-wwii-stories#stream/)

After the war Doolan was awarded with these commendations: Air Medal with clusters, Air Offensive Europe, European Theater Operations with Battle Star and Purple Heart with cluster.

Against the Odds
Alistair Begg wrote, “The ultimate statistic is that one out of one will die. Death is the only certainty of life.”5

Only 14 out of 1,000 80-year-old men will live to 100. Only three percent of men currently 60 years of age will live to age 100.

The International Database on Longevity (IDL) was created “to gather demographic information on those who have lived to a validated age of 105 years or over, opening the door to accurate measurement of mortality at very old ages.”6

“Jeanne Louise Calment lived for 122 years and 164 days, the oldest verified age of any person, ever. Her interviews revealed a portrait of the centenarian in high spirits: ‘I’ve only ever had one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it,’ she told reporters when she turned 110. Calment died in 1997 in Arles, France, where she spent much of her impressively long life. No one else, according to accurate records, has lived beyond 120 years.”7

The number of men able to escape from Stalag Luft III were 76, of which only three made it to safety. Poor odds. Although he was not included in the escape plans, Robert Dooley was a survivor. He survived twelve successful missions, a plane crash, multiple prisoner of war camps, forced marches, and 105 years of living.

People who are alive between the ages of 105 and 109 are known as “semi-supercentenarians.” Researchers at UC Berkeley and Sapienza University of Rome tracked the deaths of nearly 4,000 residents of Italy who were aged 105 and older between 2009 and 2015. “They found that the chances of survival for these longevity warriors plateaued once they made it past 105.”8

Specifically, the results revealed that people between the ages of 105 and 109 had a 50/50 chance of dying within the year and an expected further life span of 1.5 years. These percentages did not change between 105 and 110.

The researchers drew the following conclusion:

“Our data tell us that there is no fixed limit to the human lifespan yet in sight,” said study senior author Kenneth Wachter, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of demography and statistics. “Not only do we see mortality rates that stop getting worse with age, we see them getting slightly better over time.”9


Everyone in that study has since passed. Not one person’s life expectancy got better over time. As for Robert Dooley, he died on October 5, 2022, six months after his 105th birthday.

Impossible Schemes
The certainty of mortality is the predicate of life insurance.

Throughout my career in financial services, I have heard some critics of the life insurance industry express their opinion that there are better ways of taking financial responsibility for your family than owning an individual term, or permanent life insurance policy.

Here are some suggested alternatives to life insurance:

  • Investing and Saving. “If you are able to set aside enough funds each year, you can very well never have to worry about holding a life insurance policy.”8 (If you live, that is.)
  • Mortgage Insurance. (Limited in its flexibility and extent.)
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment. (Extremely restrictive.)
  • Disability Income Insurance. (A highly recommended product, but not an alternative for the lump sum payable by life insurance.)
  • Critical Illness Insurance. (Again, a highly recommended product, but not an alternative for the lump sum payable by life insurance.)
  • Prepaid Funeral Plan. (Useful and practical, but very limited.)
  • Guaranteed Issue Plan. (Helpful if the insured cannot qualify for individually underwritten life insurance.)

There really is no substitute for individually owned life insurance.

“Life insurance covers all causes of death, with one main exception: Suicide within the first two years of owning the policy. Apart from that exclusion, life insurance covers death from illness, disease, accidents, and homicide.”10

Life insurance gives responsible people the means to prove they are dependable to their lives’ dependents.

“Life insurance is a key element in feeling financially secure. Among insureds with financial dependents, 68 percent feel secure, compared with 47 percent of non-insureds.”11

The nonprofit Life Happens (formerly the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education) recommends that as an independent financial professional you should share with your clients these very good reasons for purchasing a life insurance policy soon:

  • “You’ll never be younger than you are now.
  • It’s affordable, with rates near historic lows.
  • Life happens. One day life is going along smoothly, and the next, you’re thrown a curveball. No one knows what the future holds. None of us expect to die prematurely, but the truth is roughly 600,000 people die each year in the prime of their lives.”12

At 105, Robert Dooley sang:

“You can go to extremes with impossible schemes
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams
And life gets more exciting with each passing day
And love is either in your heart or on its way.”

There are 41 million people in the U.S. who say they need life insurance but do not have it. If you are an independent financial professional, pledge yourself to the following:

  1. Don’t let people seek “impossible schemes” in order to accomplish what only life insurance can do.
  2. Remind them that “dreams sometimes fall apart” at the seams but having the wherewithal to afford the changes makes laughter easier.
  3. “Life gets more exciting each day” and proper planning makes it affordable.
  4. Encourage your clients to say, “I love you” to their family while they are living and to be able to say, as they are about to die, that “love is on its way.”

If Robert Dooley were alive today, he would sing this to your clients:

“Don’t you know that it’s worth
Every treasure on earth to be young at heart
For as rich as you are
It’s much better by far to be young at heart.”

My translation:
Don’t you know that it’s worth
Every treasure on earth to be prepared
from the start
For as rich as you are
It’s much better by far to prove your heart.


  1. “Young At Heart” lyrics © June’s Tunes Ltd. Partnership, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.
  2. https://www.cincinnati.com/story/life/2017/03/30/wwii-pow-turns-100-years-old-recalls-return-home/99587458/.
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Henry_Doolan.
  4. “Young At Heart” lyrics © June’s Tunes Ltd. Partnership, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.
  5. https://www.truthforlife.org/daily/?tab=alistair_begg_devotional&date=11%2F18%2F2022&src=22ELKB0&utm_campaign=Alistair%20Begg%20Daily%20Devotion&utm_medium=email&_hsmi=234308426&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_epWCHqsFKBn_MrLBi1SEY4clSyX_hpUTvmeTbhY4ZAs4qX5JPYMu5CcEabGtIBiswkkGtUdmT59kT-iYItQTcYv2Pww&utm_content=234308426&utm_source=hs_email.
  6. https://www.supercentenarians.org/en/.
  7. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2018/06/28/new-study-questions-a-limit-to-the-human-life-span/.
  8. https://news.berkeley.edu/2018/06/28/supercentenarians/.
  9. Ibid.
  10. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/life-insurance-alternatives_b_7832936.
  11. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/life-insurance/how-it-works/.
  12. https://www.limra.com/en/research/research-abstracts-public/2022/2022-insurance-barometer/.
  13. https://www.lifeinsure.com/life-insurance-awareness-and-your-loved-ones/.
  14. “Young At Heart” lyrics © June’s Tunes Ltd. Partnership, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.
  15. Ibid.

CLU, ChFC, FLMI, is a director, vice president, team leader, speaker and mentor for Global Leadership Partners.

For nearly four decades Murphy worked in the financial services industry, and has held positions in sales, marketing, product development, training and development, distribution, agency management, and recruiting. In his latest role he was responsible for managing National Account relationships. In this role he shared business leadership and practice management concepts with business owners, marketing organizations and independent financial professionals. He is a frequent contributor to industry trade journals and a keynote speaker at industry events.

After 37 wonderful years in financial services, it was time for Murphy to give back, to share with others the training, development and experiences he enjoyed by God’s grace, and encourage others who are just starting out or seeking to grow.

Global Leadership Partners identifies, equips and sends business leaders to speak at leadership seminars in partnership with organizations primarily in Eastern Europe, but eventually, around the world. The intent is to foster development of foreign leaders who will courageously stand for strong values and a high ethical standard. This work is based on the belief that the world will be a better place when filled with leaders who lead according to proven values and bedrock principles.

Murphy is a frequent contributor to industry trade journals and is available as a keynote speaker for life insurance industry meetings and training events. He can be reached by telephone at: 312-859-3064. Email: murpd191@gmail.com. Twitter: https://twitter.com/InLifeOnPurpose.