On some level, I really cannot fathom the loss of such beauty and talent as it happened “in the twinkling of the eye.” So pleased was she, as she told me with great excitement that her two sisters were moving to Columbia. They arrived and Kelly shone even brighter. The Friday morning Potpourri of the Arts would find all four, sitting together towards the back of the room: Kelly, Judy, Betsy and Ken. I came to realize that all were learned — seeming the products of a fine classical education — able to conjugate Latin verbs, for example. These observations came from sitting classes with the wonderful, bonded family.
Kelly never talked of the learned background of her family or of hers, for that matter. In her gentle, almost tacit ways, she simply took command of events in which she was involved. Who cannot recall her wonderful charming interaction with Harry Morrison — the beauty of the Lied songs they performed together. And, remember the performance of Die Fledermaus with the Jefferson City singers of the Midwest Lyric Opera. The many times she rehearsed with them — even recruiting a mezzo soprano from the School of Music, when the original singer was not able to join the cast. There were rehearsals at her home in addition to the number of hours spent rehearsing in costume on Saturdays at Stephens Lake. She was willing to play for a Holiday Sing-Along but it proved difficult for us to arrange at SLAC that year. She never said no — and she asked for nothing in return.
She told me of her diagnosis — bright, beautiful, elegant Dresden complexioned Kelly. She was so very alive and into life as we spoke. I was sure she would outlive the threat. “There is no treatment for it,” she added. Maybe she observed my disbelief. As one does with a dear colleague, I offered to assist in whatever way possible. “ I Have a loving husband and a son — who is here — and my family, too, are with me,” was her answer. That was our last conversation. I feel woefully inadequate about not having comprehended the gravity of her communication. Alas, I had no direct contact with Beautiful Kelly after that conversation but I would inquire of her family each subsequent Friday morning. On one morning, her family told me that Kelly had been admitted to the hospital: “Where she should be,” they added. The week after, they reported that she had been discharged to hospice care. The following Friday, they were not in class. I was to learn the sad reason for their absence.
I was not able to attend the Memorial Concert that her Stephens College colleagues arranged to honor her life and her gifts. I had succumbed to a vicious virus — which plagues me still. I must somehow pay tribute to this wonderfully fine, giving, gifted being who lived amongst us to give, to share so freely, so willingly, so magnificently, all of the talents with which she was endowed. A loving humanity, perhaps her greatest gift of all. Delicate Dresden Beauty too soon gone — but cherished forever.
Beloved Steve and Young Steve — Judy, Betsy and Ken — we embrace you and bear witness to the gentle greatness you shared in this life.
At almost the same time that Kelly received news of the condition that took her from us, another wonderful member of our community learned her fate. Her diagnosis was the same. I had chatted with Carolyn toward the end of the year. Then, she was excited about the fact that she and husband, David, had come up with a wonderful plan for his upcoming Winter Intersession course. He returned to our classroom, annually, in January, to interpret and appraise political happenings, nationally, in the preceding year. Carolyn and David were true partners in their lives together. They shared deep interests in politics. Carolyn worked ‘backstage’ with David and took great pride in their collaborative endeavors. This time she told me that, in order to enrich the content of the Osher class, they had made arrangements to attend Republican primaries. It was delicious news — the quality of David’s already popular class would likely have an even bigger draw. In a matter of weeks, David called. “Carolyn is going to need me. I will not be able to conduct class this Winter,” he said. He offered no details and I felt the intensity of his message so did not ask. I saw David, Carolyn and daughter, Janet, sometime later at a meeting. Carolyn looked wonderfully good — happy to be with her Dave and Janet. I learned that because her condition had been found in its terminal stage, she made the decision to opt out of medical intervention. Incredible courage, I thought. I saw David a few weeks ago: “We called in hospice, last Wednesday,” he reported — emotionally sober, he added, “We think that she will be able to die at home.” And so it came to pass very soon, thereafter. When I chatted with him a day or two ago, he said: “I guess I am going through the stages of mourning — trying to adjust to a new life.” He may now be on the ranch in Montana. I remember that, in the obit, he stated that Carolyn had ridden her last roundup in November. We will look forward to embracing him again, when he returns this coming November.
Like Kelly, Carolyn was called away far too soon — still vital, still doing and contributing to life. Two extraordinary human beings, ‘gifts’ in our lives and in our community, faced the ‘final call’ with seeming remarkable grace and acceptance. Loving those whose lives they shared.
The clock is ticking in all our lives — who knows at what tempo? Make today count!
It is very difficult for me to say ‘goodbye’ to wonderful Larry Morehouse. I am filled with a sense of the beauty and wonder that characterized the luminescent spirit that shined from his eyes. He was never anywhere but in the moment — taking it all in completely, feeling and experiencing it fully — responding quizzically, with a charming light-heartedness and usually a question that framed an issue as a paradox. It was his gift to plumb depths with paradox: In response to the course on the Holocaust in France, he wrote: “I love my teacher. She taught me how to cry.” He was the star responder when we engaged in discussion after viewing a Friday film. He might have an immediate comment but the most powerful reactions followed those longer periods of cognitive processing. At times, his Beloved Georgia would visibly hold her breath, the rest of us, too, were tense with anticipation, as Larry began to talk. Un-phased by the focused attention upon him and still somewhat inside himself, continuing to think, he would be funny, frequently shockingly outrageous or, very often, quietly profound — certainly, never silent! I miss him greatly!
At the time he began sitting Osher courses, Larry had already accomplished much in his life. Living in the moment, as he did, his career as professor and chair of Vet Medicine never seemed to enter our discussions at Osher. His experiences in the Navy and the overwhelming dust storms that brought him to grope for fences as he pressed on against the powdery force as a schoolboy making his way home — those were memories he shared, wistfully. He was completely in love with “Georgie” and their family — son, Tim — daughter, Glennie — those beautiful, cherished grandchildren.
In this 2011 Fall Semester, the Friday morning, October 21, performance of Die Fledermaus will be dedicated to Morehouse. The event had originally been scheduled for Feb. 4 — this year. He arrived at SLAC very early that morning, braving ice, snow and hazardous roads to be at the performance. The treacherous travel had brought about cancelation of the performance — many of the singers are Jefferson City residents, hesitant to make 30-mile drive. The opera has special meaning to Larry and Georgia. It was in Vienna, that they shared the first experience of it, many years earlier. The beauty of that memory impelled him.
He knew fulfillment as a human being — the mark of a blessed life — one we are deeply grateful to have known, if only for a little while.
Pon Y. Chinn
Almost every moment spent chatting with Pon Chinn, you were aware of his wonderful life — a quiet pleasure was always present. He had married the beautiful woman with whom he had fallen in love at first sight, the union was a happy one; and, it had brought him three loving, successful children; he was proudly devoted to them. Yet, when he conducted courses — which with a twinkle in his eyes he called, Chinese Cuisine with a Midwestern Twist, he would reminisce about the many years of hard work he had known in his youth, working in family restaurants in Nebraska. A smiling continence and gentle tone in those moments of reverie told you that he had not associated those years of “hard work” with a “hard life.” On the contrary, he was an impressively grateful human being — the best kind: caring, accepting, interested in the meaning of everything, continually seeking to learn, to understand. I love grateful people. We drove him home from a Faculty Tribute dinner, one evening. “Come in for a glass of wine, “ he invited. It proved an enchanting visit in his lovely, beautifully designed hide-away, right in town. He took the occasion to introduce us, via paintings and photographs, to the wife and family he so loved. As I reflect upon him, I am aware of this graceful, grateful being, whose ‘center’ seemed solid, stable, anchored, at peace, and larger than life’s vagaries and change.
At his memorial service, his beloved daughter, Kimi — a partner in his architectural firm said: “Pon has brought inspiration and guidance to those who have crossed his path. He will be remembered for his enthusiasm for life, his generosity and his teachings.”
You and I bear witness to the truth of Kimi’s loving tribute. Thank you, Graceful, Grateful, and Beloved Colleague, Pon.
A great love story now has one “distant” partner. With her beloved spouse, she was an active, cherished member of our advisory council. Delightful charm, a warm, welcoming smile. Athletic with a quick, sure step that belied her years and quite “declarative” in her advocacy -- and certainly in her love. Mourn with us the loss of our wonderful colleague, Francena Miller. She accomplished much in her life professionally -- privately, too, given the depth and beauty of her relationship with Paul. While our acquaintance came after she had stepped out of her many years as university educator and administrator, you could easily recognize that she had been an awesome force in all she took on in life. There was no mistaking the fact that the Millers’ was a magnificent partnership. As Francena’s sight grew compromised, Paul had a series of challenging eye surgeries, ensuring that he would have sight enough for them both. And, it was wonderful to be with them as a couple; their harmony was palpable. This is a trying time for Paul, but just for a while. The beauty that they shared will not long be suppressed by grief -- it will surface. Warm memories will fill in and quiet loss. Now, he needs our love --even hugs, and it is not at all difficult to give him that --our elegant, gentlemanly, brilliant colleague and mentor. She was THE BEST! -- as is her beloved Paul.
Donald Kausler Sr., PhD
A passionate and meticulous scientist. A true scholar. A professor who invested in students and demonstrated a genuine pride in their abilities. These are the images that fill my mind as I think about Dr. Donald Kausler, renowned psychologist who “went to his reward” on Nov. 20 — a day that I happened to be winging my way to California.
He was a cherished professor during my graduate study years, and I eagerly sat his courses — rich in philosophy and history, not simply psychological content. His special area of research was aging and memory.
Transcending the years, it was natural to invite him to present a course for our OLLI. I knew that he would be well-received. He conveyed information most of us hunger for — understanding ourselves as we are altered by time. During multiple semesters, Don increased our understanding and gave us instrumental behaviors that addressed intrinsic change; his purpose was to empower through understanding.
Occasionally, his beloved Marty would come by after class to pick him up, the back seat of their car filled with stunning, blue-eyed grandkids. “They have Marty eyes,” I told him. He beamed back agreement. He lost his life’s companion in spring a few years ago and was never embarrassed by the tears that lingered long thereafter. “The St. Louis Cardinals got me thorough the summer,” he told me when he returned to teach that fall. I worried that teaching might be too demanding when his grieving period grew more complicated by a series of his own life-threatening episodes. “If I wasn’t doing this, I would be volunteering in some soup kitchen,” he asserted. “At least, I am doing something I really know.” He believed in giving back.
Just last year, I shared the fact that I was trying to bring National Science Foundation money to our program. Collaborating with the directors of two other OLLIs and the CEO of the Osher Foundation National Resource Center, we’re proposing to use our collective expertise to create science curricula for folks age 50 and better. Immediately, he was “my professor” again — bringing me books from his library, recommending the findings of scholars whose subjects had been seasoned adults and unique in their acquisition of knowledge.
Over lunch at Bennigan’s — one of his favorite eateries, Don periodically would check on our progress. A many-time NSF awardee, he agreed to act as project consultant to strengthen our proposal.
After rather serious surgery, he shied away from teaching — but never from the role of advocate. I regret that he will not be there at the “finish line” when we learn of the fate of our NSF proposal. No matter. Dr. Kausler inspired the effort and infused us with hope.
You can count the people in life who genuinely care. Our world is missing a fine mind and a glorious spirit. Yet the beauty Don Kausler contributed still warmly abides.
Robert ‘Bob’ Silvers, MD
A sad report of the loss of one of our best students -- he registered for something like six courses each semester -- and one our most delightful and unique instructors. I wish we had known him a longer time. He was the sort of person you want to know more about and learn more about his thoughts about life and his perspectives on our society.
Astoundingly well-informed, a ravenous reader, he could speak on any topic. With an impressive sense of belonging and of community, after sitting our courses for a few semesters, he came into the office to say: "I want to contribute to this program. I want to teach."
I was expecting him to suggest a course that was heavy into theory and cognitively demanding. Yet, despite his impressive knowledge and communicative skills, the course he planned to give was on making furniture -- "fine furniture." With him, on that day of the first conversation about his course, he brought in a large envelope filled with a variety of wood veneers and a scrapbook of photos. I was more than somewhat taken aback -- in no way had I been prepared for his unique suggestion. Nor was I ready for his confidence in my ability to comprehend the quality and variety of the veneers he so proudly displayed. I was able to recognize the fact that the woods were beautiful, unusual.
His course launched in mid-March with a handful of folks intent on learning to make fine furniture. Their decision was to construct a drawer, and they set about it with sawdust flying. I invested in a hand vacuum. It was a wonderful curiosity in our rather "cognitive" program. Looking back, I realize we take ourselves far too seriously.
Bob was a breath of fresh air -- real, warm, almost shy -- with an intelligence too great to support a tendency toward reticence. A gifted neurologist, he took great pleasure in the beauty of wood and the human mind. At 65, he left us far too soon. Your eyes may fill with tears as you think of him, but it will be followed by a quasi-winsome smile. You knew beauty, and you saw a "high being" who had essentially known a fulfilled life.
The Osher Institute story
So much of life is discovery. It all just unfolds before us, phenomenologically.
Thus it was with our beloved lifespan learning program.
Launched on a shoestring by a courageous administrator, the program advanced through the whirlwind energy of an educator. On the edge financially, MU was uncertain of Lifespan Learning's future financial viability and success -- until late in the day on July 5, 2005.
An unpretentious telephone call came in from California bearing news of an
award from the Bernard Osher Foundation. I took the call, walked down the hall
to the associate vice provost's office to convey the news. The emotion unleashed
by the news in her office put me in touch with the force energizing my own pounding
heart. Seemingly in seconds, lifespan learning had gone from rags to riches
-- and even undergone a name change, reborn as the Osher Lifelong Learning
Institute at MU. But it would be nine more months before we would come to comprehend
the vision underlying the obligatory name change.
Bernard Osher -- our Daddy Warbucks! Yes, we had felt a bit like orphans
before the award -- older folks sitting university classes specially designed
for their developmental stage in life; universities, in our time, were populated
by the young. Osher had bought us legitimacy. We wondered about the giver, initially
half-assuming he no longer walked the earth. Few foundations are led by live,
hale and hearty philanthropists.
Then came the invite to our first of the foundation's annual meetings. An epiphany awaited us in San Jose , where representatives from all 73 universities blessed with the Osher largesse would be gathered. Picture a well-attended plenary session in which group after group stands to announce: "I'm an OLLI"-- from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, University of Hawaii at Hilo, University of California at Davis, UC Riverside, University of Vermont, Oklahoma State University. . By the time it was our turn to stand to make our identity known, we were part of the culture. There was recognition of the fact that we had been inducted into a force -- the OLLI Force!
Soon thereafter, a member of the group introduced himself simply as Barney
Osher. Barbro Osher took to the platform to address the assembly: "I'm speaking
to you at my husband's request -- he's shy. Go forth in strength, and do well
as you do good," the elegant Mrs. Osher essentially urged in her lilting Swedish
intonation. The Force had evolved into family. "Don't stay with them what brung
ya," was Kali Lightfoot's appeal. "Get to know every OLLI." Kali is CEO of the
Osher Foundation's National Resource Center established at the University of
Southern Maine (USM). We are members of a national family force that is always
only an e-mail away, ready to answer questions, resolve problems and give advice.
The USM staff no longer takes it on alone, however. An automated e-mail distribution
list now connects all 93 OLLIs -- yes, the Force continues to grow. It's an
awesome collective intelligence!
The Man, his accomplishments, his mission
Listed in Forbes magazine as self-made and among the "world's richest
people," financier Bernard Osher co-founded Golden West Financial, a profitable
thrift. Subsequently, he took over Butterfield and Butterfield and built it into
one of the nation's largest art auction houses, which he sold to eBay for millions
in stock in 1999. In 2005, Mr. Osher's net worth was reported as $1.1 billion.
In 2002, the charitable foundation he established 25 years earlier began offering
$100,000 annual grants -- now in four-year cycles culminating in endowments of
$1 million -- to learning programs that serve to keep aging populations cognitively
and socially active and contributing to society.
Grants are offered in four additional categories besides OLLIs:
- To college students with academic promise and financial need
scholarships for students ages 25 to 50 returning for a bachelor's after
a break in their pursuit of a college education
- Programs in integrative
medicine that feature research, education and clinical care in complementary
or alternative medicine -- offered through the National Institutes of Health
arts and cultural programs in San Francisco and the state of Maine -- where
Mr. Osher grew up.
In addition to our OLLI, MU Extension is the recipient of an Osher Foundation Re-entry Scholarship gift. The Oshers have indeed been good to us. The foundation likely will have invested $1.45 million in our OLLI at MU by the year 2010. In return, we are obliged to demonstrate that our program is financially secure and capable of carrying on its educational mission far into the future. Drawing on his financial wisdom and his vision, Bernard Osher advises that financial security for all OLLIs lies in a viable all-membership organization.
Salerno puts MU 's OLLI on the map
In recent months Lucille Salerno has received national recognition on several
fronts that will allow her the opportunity to share and build on her experiences
as director of MU's OLLI. She was appointed to the editorial board for the American
Society on Aging's Lifetime Enrichment and Renewal Network newsletter.
At the organization's annual meeting March 7 to 10 in Chicago, she will lead
a roundtable discussion titled "Living Life to the Brim: Retirees Who Know Little
About 'Being Old.'"
In addition, she was named to the editorial board of The LLI Review: The Annual Journal of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, a new peer-reviewed journal published by the Bernard Osher Foundation.