Scientists, Veterans, and Reporters: These Are the People We Serve
February 16, 2020 | by The Members of LeadingAge
Learn about some of the wonderful people our members work for.
Learn about some of the wonderful people our members work for.
Lenbrook, Atlanta, GA
Two residents with impressive scientific backgrounds have become technology ambassadors to help fellow residents embrace a new app.
Lenbrook recently as implemented K4Community, a multifunction system that will help residents and staff stay connected.
Lenbrook’s leading technology ambassadors are Drs. Judy Franz and Jim Cochrane, who have surveyed residents to gauge use of the app, and work with residents to help get them up to speed.
Franz is a condensed matter physicist, educator, and a former executive officer of the American Physical Society. She received her bachelor’s degree in physics in 1959 from Cornell University and pursued graduate studies in physics at the University of Illinois, where she earned a master's degree in 1961 and a doctorate in 1965. Fun fact: In 1958, she took the first undergraduate computer course ever offered at Cornell.
Cochrane, a 10-year resident of Lenbrook and a member of Lenbrook’s “Geezer Squad,” has an impressive technical background. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgia Tech and a doctorate from NYU. During his long career programming and designing computer systems, he held positions with companies such as Honeywell, Bell Laboratories, and Scientific Atlanta.
“Our role as ambassadors right now is to inform and inspire,” says Cochrane. “We are here to encourage other residents to install and really use the app. We can help with the one-time set up, and we enjoy showing our neighbors how easy it is to navigate. Already, the Lenbrook directory is up and searchable by first or last name; and the menus of our 4 different dining venues are posted every week.”
“It will take some fine-tuning to get the different capabilities up and running, but already, we are further along than we expected to be at this time, and we are confident that soon, both Lenbrook’s residents and staff will really love using this smart technology,” says Franz.
Louise Plonowski, Lenbrook
St. James Place, Baton Rouge, LA
Longtime WAFB reporter and anchor George Sells continues his passion for reporting in his retirement at St. James Place senior living community.
Sells volunteers with a group led by Judge Kathleen Richey to help CASA, an organization that supports children who have experienced abuse or neglect, throughout Louisiana. He has worked with them to create radio and television ads to promote the organization and gather more volunteers. The ad campaign ran in late 2019.
At St. James Place, Sells continues to report for the community, including providing coverage of St. James Place’s own Mardi Gras parade and writing pieces for the community newsletter.
While reporting for WAFB, Sells traveled internationally to cover the installation of Cardinals, and handled coverage for CBS News at the Vatican in Italy. In 1987, Sells won an Emmy for his reporting on the existence of the Ku Klux Klan in Michigan, in a series titled “The Cross Still Burns.” Other assignments included reporting on aviation security in Yugoslavia, the auto industry in Japan, and hurricanes in Honduras.
Sells reported in major markets around the country, including Nashville, Philadelphia, New York, Houston, Denver, Detroit, and Baton Rouge. During his career, Sells earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters and the Associated Press award for the Best Newscast in Louisiana, twice.
Andrew Meiller, communications & PR assistant, GlynnDevins.
Westminster Woods at Huntingdon, Huntingdon, PA
David and Linda Fryer came to Westminster Woods at Huntingdon, part of the Presbyterian Senior Living System, in 2014. Their faith and sense of community was evident from day one.
Noticing that some of the residents’ mailbox posts were deteriorated, Dave checked every mailbox on campus and refurbished those that needed it. When the weather is inclement, as it often is in central Pennsylvania, Dave will walk through the Westminster Woods’ streets and deliver fellow residents’ newspapers from the box to the door, and will bring their trash cans to their garages.
Dave is a past president of the Residents Council, and has since served on several Council committees. He was the inspiration to bring youth workers from the local community action center to the Westminster Woods campus. The youth assist with lawn work and landscaping and Dave supervises their work.
The greater Huntingdon community also has been blessed by the Fryers’ generosity. They both volunteer with the local Meals on Wheels, and at their church. Dave rounds out his time by volunteering with an area veterans’ outreach center, driving veterans to medical appointments. Linda, in addition to volunteering at their church and at Meals on Wheels, also shares her time and other talents on our campus. She has led a resident ladies’ Bible study on campus. She visits residents with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive losses and brings to them a Christian music therapy that is both healing and soothing. Linda has volunteered with the Residents Council Welcome committee and she currently serves on the Westminster Woods Quality Assurance team as a resident representative, as her expertise as a registered nurse is invaluable.
Dave and Linda Fryer are a blessing to the lives they touch.
Linda Shultz-Long, director of community life and volunteer services, Westminster Woods at Huntingdon.
Three Pillars Senior Living Communities, Dousman, WI
A trio of resident veterans from Three Pillars Senior Living Communities recently had the experience of a lifetime on a September 2019 Stars & Stripes Honor Flight. Wayne Pinnow, Jim Schuyler, and Gene Slobodianuk said it was beyond any of their expectations and an unforgettable day. In the spirit of Veterans Day, when they sat down to recount the trip, they also agreed it was not only a great honor to travel on an Honor Flight, but also to serve our country.
Schuyler remembers, “When I first heard about the Honor Flight program, my original thought was that I’d like to go and help a veteran as a guardian, so I contacted them. Instead of volunteering, they encouraged me to apply to travel on a flight.”
As a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, 32nd division, for 8 years, Schuyler didn’t feel qualified for the Honor Flight experience. In 1961, he and approximately 10,000 men in his division were activated and sent to Washington on federal duty, but he still felt that those who served in Vietnam, Korea, or World War II were much more deserving of a trip like this. Once he learned that his dates of service qualified for a flight, he began to consider it and decided to apply. “I still feel like the other guys who were out in front while I stayed stateside did so much more, but I am grateful for the opportunity to participate.”
Schuyler also paused to remember his 5 uncles who were also veterans. They sacrificed so much and didn’t have a chance to go on an Honor Flight. In a way, Schuyler feels as though his trip honored them as well.
Slobodianuk originally enlisted in the Army for 3 years, and when the Korean War broke out, he served an additional year. Once in Korea, his unit was shorthanded and held him over 76 extra days. He served in the Army Security Agency, doing radio intercepts. In Korea, they monitored the field units. Their unit could only get within 8 miles of the front lines because of their equipment. They had to scatter, knock down their antennas, and get their equipment stowed when they moved. “It was interesting work,” he recalls.
Thinking about his September Honor Flight, he can’t get over how special it was. “It was kind of hard to keep your composure,” says Slobodianuk. “It got me thinking of any past troubles between vets or from different wars, and now, we’re all one again. We’re all appreciated, and appreciating each other for what everybody did. It was fabulous.”
Pinnow served in the Army Signal Corps as a radio relay operator and was stationed in Germany for 3 years. After about a year, he began overseeing his own site as a Commander, with 6 men working under him, which he did for the remainder of his service.
“After I was over there for a year, I got to come home and get married,” Pinnow reports. His fiancée, Judy, was graduating from high school that June, and he wanted to propose at the graduation. They planned their whole wedding via airmail. He bought the rings in Germany and sent them home to his dad, who had them ready for the proposal. Pinnow and his late wife, Judy, got married December 30.
They moved to Germany together. They had no family or friends in Germany—it was just the 2 of them, and together, they learned a lot and built a strong foundation for their exceptional marriage. Over the next 2 years, they had 2 children, a son and a daughter. Pinnow earned his Sergeant’s stripes the same day his son was born.
He, too, is thankful to have traveled on an Honor Flight. “It was probably the most emotional and memorable thing I have ever done. The one time I really lost it on the trip was during mail call. I’m tearing up now just remembering it,” he says. The veterans each received a large envelope full of mail during their travels. “It was unreal,” Pinnow adds. He received letters from family, friends, and employees at Three Pillars, and even students from the classrooms of which he was friends with the teachers. The most special letter in his envelope was from his grandson, who is serving in California in the Marines. “I completely lost it—it was so special. They even got a photo of me sitting there crying!” he laughs.
For Schuyler, one highlight of the trip was meeting up with his grandson from Virginia, who drove 45 minutes with his 3 young boys to see some of the monuments with Jim. He also enjoyed seeing the changing of the guard and witnessing 2 wreath-laying ceremonies.
“The thing that really stands out in my mind is the organization that went into this whole thing,” Schuyler says. “Ours was the 53rd Stars & Stripes Honor Flight, and the 7,000th veteran was on our trip. To think of the hundreds of volunteers that go into this to coordinate it all on both ends; how well it’s organized – it’s incredible. The fact that we got off the plane at 11:30 p.m., and there were probably up to 2,000 people cheering us on along the roped off aisle—just amazing.”
“When they were all there saluting us, every one of them all different ages, I saluted each of them back, all the way through,” Schuyler adds. “It’s not all about us, it’s about them too! It really tugs at your heart.”
Editor’s note: The Honor Flight Network has suspended all Honor Flights scheduled for March and April, due to the Coronavirus.
Kelsey Pangborn, director of customer experience, Three Pillars Senior Living Communities
Jefferson’s Ferry, South Setauket, NY
Lester Paldy, a distinguished service professor emeritus at Stony Brook University, has spent more than 50 years teaching in the departments of Technology and Society, Physics, Political Science, and University Honors College. Retirement means teaching one class a semester and volunteering as a professor in the Department of Pathology, where he connects Stony Brook University medical and engineering researchers with their counterparts at national laboratories. Paldy also consults with Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Nonproliferation and National Security Department.
Paldy cultivates a continuing interest in medicine and biomedical research. Stony Brook Medical School’s Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics recently invited him to lecture on the Nazi Doctors’ Trial and the origins of the concept of informed consent in medical research.
Paldy had been exploring whether precedents established by the Nuremberg Tribunals bearing on crimes against humanity had implications for the development, deployment, and potential use of nuclear weapons, his specialty. It amazes him that the international community has outlawed chemical and biological weapons but hasn’t banned nuclear weapons, which are far more devastating.
“I aim to share the excitement of acquiring new knowledge with a younger generation that will have to deal with issues and problems that have eluded us,” says Paldy. “The university gives me the freedom to work on interesting things with the support of faculty colleagues and professional and civil service staffers who make the university run. No one could ask for more. With some luck, I’ll keep doing it.”
Kathleen Caputi, senior vice president, Epoch 5 Public Relations.
Thanks to the many LeadingAge members who wrote the stories included in this article. To contribute more stories of diverse, remarkable elders—and the staff, board members, and volunteers who serve them—contact Editor Gene Mitchell at GMitchell@LeadingAge.org or 202-508-9424.