Singers, Survivors and Award-Winning Staff
May 16, 2018 | by The Members of LeadingAge
LeadingAge members tell the stories of remarkable people they work for and with every day.
LeadingAge members tell the stories of remarkable people they work for and with every day.
Fleet Landing, Atlantic Beach, FL
Girls Inc. of Jacksonville, FL, honored Dr. Frances Bartlett Kinne at its 2nd Annual Women of Vision Celebration Luncheon on March 8. The “Champion for Girls and the Women of Vision” awards were created to honor extraordinary women of achievement who have made significant contributions to the lives of girls and women in northeast Florida, and who themselves are continuing to pave the way for all women and girls through their unique voices and efforts.
A review of Kinne’s life reveals she was a trail-blazing woman ahead of her time. She was the first American woman awarded a doctorate from the University of Frankfurt in Germany after World War II, the first woman dean of an American college, and the first woman president of a university in Jacksonville. Kinne holds honorary doctorates from Lenoir-Rhyne University, Drake University, Wagner College, Flagler College and Jacksonville University. She is past president & chancellor emeritus of Jacksonville University. She made an impact locally as the first woman president of the Jacksonville Rotary Club and the first woman member of the River Club of Jacksonville.
In Kinne’s 37 years at Jacksonville University and as university president, she guided the school through a fertile period of growth. She established the College of Business, the Keigwin School of Nursing and JU’s aviation program. Kinne was also instrumental in persuading the Mayo Clinic that Jacksonville would be an ideal location for a second Mayo campus, and became an honorary staff member in 1993.
As dean and founder of the College of Fine Arts at JU, Kinne enjoyed many friendships in the entertainment industry, and was influential in drawing world-famous celebrities and public figures such as Pres. Gerald Ford, Bob Hope, Charlton Heston, Jack Benny and a host of others to Jacksonville.
Kinne published an illustrated autobiography in 2012 entitled Iowa Girl: The President Wears a Skirt, which chronicles her adventurous life from her start as an artistic small-town girl, to a globe-trotting Army wife, and through her successful career in academia. She is listed on 24 Who’s Who lists, including Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in International Leaders. Kinne celebrated her 100th birthday on May 23, 2017.
Olivia Bush, director of charitable gift planning, Fleet Landing.
The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, Fresno, CA
Nancy Fuller had never traveled abroad until after retiring. When this Fresno resident did take her first overseas trip, it wasn’t to spend time on a beach or in the mountains, but rather to help families living with a devastating disease.
While in Swaziland, Fuller and her team delivered donated medical equipment, food and other supplies to families living in poverty. She says the yearly trips have made her appreciate what she has in America.
Over the last few years, she’s urged others to take the journey and volunteer their time. Right now, the Project Glory group is planning another trip to Swaziland, and most recently shipped 2,200 pounds of medical supplies to those living in the country.
Chelsea Wilson, GlynnDevins.
Asbury Methodist Village, Gaithersburg, MD
On March 8, Cynthia Perez and Sallyn Ratemo of Asbury Methodist Village joined several dozen area professionals to be recognized as Healthcare Council of the National Capital Area Employees of the Year.
The award recognizes individuals’ extraordinary contributions towards the financial strength and sustainability of their organization through 3 key areas: creating efficiencies, improving processes and enhancing the delivery of care and customer satisfaction.
Perez is the senior director of admissions, overseeing admissions and marketing for Kindley Assisted Living and Wilson Health Care Center. She joined Asbury in 2007 as a move-in coordinator for residential living. One year later she joined Wilson as an admissions coordinator, and found her calling assisting seniors and their families searching for quality short-term rehabilitative and skilled nursing services. “Cindy was instrumental in the development of a whole community approach to admissions that bridges Kindley Assisted Living and Wilson Health Care Center, helping us develop a system uniquely our own,” says Debbie Hedges, associate executive director. “She truly has a calling for serving older adults and their families and has used this to create a better experience for those we serve.”
Ratemo is the director of nursing for Kindley Assisted Living, which provides assisted living and memory support services for seniors in Montgomery County, MD. She joined Asbury in 2011 as a geriatric nursing assistant. “Sallyn serves as an exceptional role model for the clinical team, empowering them to make decisions that enhance quality of care,” says Kindley Administrator Gretchen Moshier. “She has developed proactive approaches to ensure residents’ needs are met before they even ask. As a leader, she is kind, thoughtful, and never without a smile on her face. This approach has been adopted by her team, which has driven high resident satisfaction.”
Elaine Joseph, Stanton Communications, Inc.
Piedmont Crossing, Thomasville, NC
Gathered on a large rug in the middle of a living room floor sit 12 children eager to hear “Mother Goose” sing the next song. That living room floor belongs to Marcia Williams, a resident at Piedmont Crossing who has always had a love for children. Williams taught in Thomasville’s city schools for 35 years, mostly in elementary education and music. “Each grade level I taught was fun and rewarding, but I must admit that kindergarten was my favorite,” she says.
An Idaho native, Williams spent most of her adult life in the Piedmont region of North Carolina; she lived in High Point for 18 years. Although her home was in a quaint area with supportive neighbors, Williams decided it was time to consider her future and moved to Piedmont Crossing.
“Piedmont Crossing not only ‘fit the bill’ in my search for the perfect retirement community, it offered something else very special,” says Williams. That “something else” is Kids Only, the child care center on the campus.
“When Marcia came to tour and saw the sign for Kids Only, her eyes lit up,” remembers Blair White, marketing director. Unsurprisingly to those who know Williams, she chose an apartment beside the child care center.
Williams welcomes children into her home each week. Children (3- and 4-year-olds) from Kids Only gather in her living room excitingly waiting to hear “Mother Goose” (as the children refer to her) play the piano and teach them songs. Williams agrees that the opportunity to visit with them each week is what gives her purpose. “Hearing the children play and laugh on their playground warms my heart. Their visit each week gives me drive to keep going,” she says.
Shaylyn Ladd, director of community engagement, United Church Homes and Services.
Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Commack, NY
Staff and residents at Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center and Gurwin Jewish ~ Fay J. Lindner Residences assisted living participated in the second annual #WeRemember social media campaign organized by the World Jewish Congress (WJC). The international campaign is a visual homage to the millions of victims of the Holocaust.
Originally designated by the United Nations General Assembly, International Holocaust Remembrance Day is held each year on January 27th, marking the liberation of Poland’s notorious concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Considered to be the largest global event ever to commemorate the Holocaust, the campaign encourages people to post, to Facebook and Twitter, photos of themselves displaying #WeRemember signs, which were then live-streamed on a jumbotron at Auschwitz.
The inaugural event, launched in 2017, reached more than 250 million people around the world; this year’s campaign doubled its reach, engaging 500 million people in more than 100 countries, with content translated in 24 languages.
Gurwin residents who participated in this year’s event witnessed firsthand the atrocities of the Holocaust. Among them were survivors of Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz, a hidden child and a Kindertransport refugee. Also participating was U.S. Army sergeant and Bronze Star recipient Marvin Bochner, who helped liberate prisoners from Ohrdruf concentration camp alongside Generals Patton, Eisenhower, Bradley and Montgomery. Haunted by memories of the horrors he’d seen, Marvin chose to display the #WeRemember sign “to raise awareness among younger generations to ensure that humanity never forgets.”
Maureen Fagan, public relations, Gurwin Family of Healthcare Services.
Three Pillars’ Village on the Square, Dousman, WI
What do you get when an accomplished multimedia artist, an acclaimed National Duck Stamp painter, and an expert Ukrainian egg creator collaborate on a one-of-kind art endeavor? With 265 years of artistic experience and tons of pizazz between the 3, you get a creative eruption resulting in 2 incredible, masterpiece Ukrainian eggs!
Ray Good, 88, first learned the art of Ukrainian egg decorating at age 12 from his father, who had moved to the U.S. from Ukraine when he was 15. Each year, he creates several to give as gifts, and enjoys trying new designs and sizes of eggs as he sharpens his skills.
In the spring of 2017, he met renowned artist Martin Murk, 89, when he and his wife moved to the Village on the Square at Three Pillars and became neighbors. As artist of several wildlife stamps for the government, Murk’s work has earned coast-to-coast acclaim. He won the national duck stamp in 1977-78, as well as a Wisconsin state duck stamp and 4 state fish stamps. When they met, Murk and Good hit it off, sparking a treasured friendship with artistic interests in common.
Later, in the fall of 2017, another artist came into the picture, and the timing and her skills were a serendipitous happenstance. Dint Sweitzer, 88, had just moved into Three Pillars and quickly became busy meeting neighbors: “This place is so friendly and full of creative people; everyone has their thing,” she says.
Sweitzer’s passion is painting beautiful multimedia portraits, adding rich, vibrant, 3-dimensional elements to her pieces, like a fabric scarf, silk flower in the hair, and real jewelry. When she met Good and Murk, a novel idea struck.
The 3 decided to pool their skills and collaborate on a couple of group-effort decorative eggs. After discussion about interests and talents, their duties were coined: Martin, “The Artist,” Dint, “The Color Consultant,” and Ray, “The Color Applicator.” They got to work, each completing their part. Murk sketched the designs featuring beautiful, imaginative bird figures; Sweitzer planned the colors; and Good applied the wax and dyes to the eggs.
When it was time to remove the wax layers and reveal the final product, the 3 gathered with a small audience eager to watch. “It was really a peak moment for me, one of great anticipation,” recalls Good with a sparkle in his eye. With his co-artists on either side, he peeled back the wax layers one by one, with each proudly unveiling a new color. He laughs as he says, “You may as well have assumed we were awaiting the birth of a great-grandchild, with the rate of excitement and anticipation we felt! They turned out just beautifully.”
“It was a fun challenge for all of us, really, having never done anything like it before,” says Sweitzer. For her, the challenge was staying in fine lines and simplifying her color pallet. For Murk, it meant confining his art to clean lines on a small, curved canvas. And for Good, collaborating and applying others’ ideas to a design.
While the 2 eggs are now complete, the creative work isn’t slowing down for this trio. They each have various art endeavors that will keep them busy throughout the year, and they’ve mutually agreed that they’d like to collaborate on eggs again. Their next egg is anticipated to cater to Sweitzer’s flair for color and vibrancy, decorated with iridescent paint. We anticipate its big reveal sometime this year.
The story of this artistic collaboration is about more than creativity, more than teamwork, and more than friendship. “This really tells a remarkable story,” beams Good. “It’s one of older adults going after passions, continuing to be imaginative, and continuing to come up with innovations. It’s the concept that we have the great ideas, we work on them, we execute, and we continue to work on our craft. Who knows, maybe we’ll inspire others, whether older adults or young, to do something unique like this.”
Kelsey Pangborn, communication strategist, Three Pillars.
Windsor Park, Carol Stream, IL
Richard “Dick” Gerig was named Outstanding Citizen of the City of Wheaton, IL, an honor bestowed to only 3 other individuals in the city’s history who have contributed to making Wheaton a better place to live. Gerig, now retired and living at Windsor Park retirement community, was presented the proclamation by Wheaton Mayor Michael Gresk on Jan. 16 among friends, family, former colleagues, local dignitaries and citizens at the Wheaton City Council Meeting.
The proclamation decreed that Gerig, who has been actively involved with the City of Wheaton, its institutions and residents, has “demonstrated his faith, love of history and commitment to Wheaton throughout the years” by being a member of the Wheaton Historic Preservation Council (WHPC), a contributing columnist for the Daily Herald on behalf of the WHPC, co-founding the Wheaton Leadership Prayer Breakfast, and serving on the board of directors of the Wheaton Chamber of Commerce and the DuPage Heritage Gallery. Gerig was an elected member of the Wheaton City Council from 1991-1995.
Gerig worked 30-plus years in the public relations department of Wheaton College, served on the Sesquicentennial Commission, and the city’s Community Relations and Sister City commissions. At Wheaton Bible Church, Gerig was the music director and served on the board of elders. He is a U.S. Army veteran who served during World War II.
Ryan Hust, Windsor Park’s interim executive director, says, “We congratulate Dick on this deserving honor. We are blessed Dick chose to call Windsor Park home. He has continued his legacy of blending his faith and desire to serve those around him at Windsor, by directing one of our choirs and teaching Bible study. Dick’s characteristic humility is present in everything he does.”
Wendy D’Alessandro, Lynn Public Relations.
Covenant Village of Florida, Plantation, FL
Harold Poole knows the dates by heart: On Sept. 9, 1946, he met his future wife, Helen. On Nov. 9, he asked her to marry him and she said yes. Five months later, on Jan. 26, 1947, they were married. “I saw him from across the room,” Helen recalls. “I said, ‘That’s the man I'm going to marry.’”
More than 7 decades later, Helen and Harold Poole are still kicking up their heels on the dance floor. The newest members of the Covenant Village of Florida family celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary last month, and on Valentine’s Day they joined fellow residents for the annual dance, where students from Calvary Christian Academy’s jazz band and a cappella group performed music from yesteryear.
Dancing, it so happens, is the couple’s favorite pastime.
“They’re still swinging and dancing’ on the dance floor,” Michael Torok, a Calvary Christian Academy senior and trombone player, said, after learning the couple recently celebrated their wedding anniversary. He was just as impressed to learn their daughter, Dianna Silvagni and her husband, Anthony, also live at Covenant Village. “Wow, they’re all together?” he asked. “That’s awesome!”
Torok performed with the jazz band during last year’s Valentine’s Day dance and said the experience always makes him feel special. “I love coming here and seeing people smile and dance and have a lot of fun,” he said.
This is the second year the jazz band and a cappella group performed at the dance, but the students are familiar faces throughout the year at the faith-based retirement community, performing for residents on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.
In addition to Calvary Christian Academy, Covenant Village partners regularly with local schools and universities for intergenerational opportunities. Summit-Questa Montessori middle school students recently engaged residents in a project to determine how the Montessori experience can impact older adults. Through the community’s eSeniors program, students from St. Thomas Aquinas High School teach residents how to use technology. At Palm Villa, the assisted living neighborhood at Covenant Village, students in Nova Southeastern University’s (NSU) Health Professions Division used the sound of familiar music to create a positive experience for residents with dementia.
After the dance, students passed out Valentine’s Day cards made by the Academy’s grade school students. And, the Pooles shared their secret to 71 years of marriage and a long, healthy life. “God’s guidance and mutual respect,” they said, adding, “It’s important to surround oneself with good friends, to live a life of purpose and to interact with young people.”
Wendy D’Alessandro, Lynn Public Relations.
CJE SeniorLife, Chicago, IL
Bob Gelfond and his daughter/family caregiver Julie both enjoy the adult day services program at Friend Center for Memory Care (Weinberg Community for Senior Living), which provides structure, support, and enrichment for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.
Bob Gelfond, who loves dancing, spending time with the friendly staff and other participants, and especially making challah bread on Fridays, says, “I think the people here are excellent. There’s a certain warmth that’s in the room all the time, and you always feel good about it. You feel at ease.”
Julie says, “It’s more than we ever could have hoped for. We wanted a place for him to feel comfortable and safe, and have something that he could do during the day. It’s turned out to be so fulfilling. He loves it!”
Bob and Julie both appear in this video:
Nicole Bruce, senior digital marketing specialist, CJE SeniorLife.
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.