LeadingAge Magazine · January-February 2020 • Volume 10 • Number 01

Shirley Clark

Buckner Parkway Place, Houston, TX

Shirley Clark, who turned 100 on Dec. 2, got a big surprise on her birthday.

Clark, a resident at Buckner Parkway Place, is a diehard baseball fan, and has spent half her life as a fan of the Houston Astros. She watches as many games as she can, whether at the stadium or on TV, and it’s common knowledge around Parkway Place that you can come to Clark for scores and stats from the previous night.

News of Clark’s birthday and her status as a superfan reached Astros 2nd baseman Jose Altuve, and inspired him to meet her. He was especially touched when he learned she had spent more than 30 years as a missionary, with her late husband Charles, in his home country of Venezuela.

Clark fondly recalls her time there ministering to those in need and forming lifelong bonds with some of her best friends. One of her fondest memories was watching Venezuelan children play baseball in the street with a homemade ball and broomstick.

These memories are why her favorite Astros players are the ones from Venezuela, especially José Altuve and Robinson Chirinos.

Conversing in both English and Spanish, Altuve and Clark talked about her time living in Venezuela and what it was like for Altuve growing up there. She introduced him to some of her children in town for her birthday, and Altuve even did a video call with his wife and daughter so they could wish Clark a happy birthday as well. When their conversation turned to the Astros, Clark showed off her knowledge of player stats.

Enjoying life, eating right and staying active are what Clark credits as her keys to a long life – that and getting out to the ballpark whenever possible.

Earlier in the year, Clark was one of 14 Parkway Place residents that posed for portraits by photographer Mark Sandlin as part of the community’s new campaign, “Life, Experienced.” The campaign captures the varied interests and passions of residents, which is why Clark decked herself out in her Astros apparel and modeled in front of the Astros’ Minute Maid Park.

See Shirley Clark’s visit with Jose Altuve in this video on Twitter. More photos of Clark’s visit are available on the Buckner website.

Christopher Ruth, director of media relations, Buckner International

Joe Young

Jack Satter House, Revere, MA

From his early days in Philadelphia to his most recent years at Jack Satter House, Joseph (Joe) Young has always been a leader. A lifetime of responsibility—including 4 years as an Army Corporal and MP during World War II, and as a member of the International Executive Services Corps—prepared him thoroughly to become actively involved in the community, no matter where he lived.

Hebrew SeniorLife
Joe Young

Fourteen years ago, Young moved to Jack Satter House, located on the first public beach in the nation: Revere Beach. He is active in the tenants association, having served in elected offices including second vice president, first vice president (twice), and president (twice). Young volunteered in the residents’ coffee shop for 6 years, served as the audiovisual person for weekend movies for 6 years, and volunteered on the decorating committee.

In addition to this engagement at Jack Satter House, he is involved in multigenerational programs with the Revere Public Schools. He is a favorite in this program; the students fondly call him “Papa Joe.” His enthusiasm and leadership are contagious, and he serves as a positive role model for all participants.

Young’s love of both children and his friends at Jack Satter House shines through everything he does. With a personal motto of “Keep your positive attitude and sense of humor,” he leads by example, making sure that his life lessons empower a new generation of students.

Donna Tarutz, director of community life, Hebrew SeniorLife’s Jack Satter House

Susana Betsalel

The Willows, Burlington, NC

The Willows photo
Susana Betsalel with a friend from the Burlington
Police Department.

Susana Betsalel, a native of Chile, lives in this HUD 202 affordable housing community. Betsalel and her family moved to the U.S. in 1977, because with a military government in Chile, they felt unsafe. None of the family spoke English, but all hoped to learn and prosper in the U.S.

Betsalel has 2 grown children: a daughter in Burlington, NC, and a son in Israel. Her husband of more than 50 years passed away in 2014. Before moving to the Willows, Batsalel lived with her daughter and helped with raising her grandchildren. She also worked in retail and as a bank teller.

Betsalel is a community fireball, shining her light on the people around her. She assists various local agencies, including volunteering for local food pantries, helping thousands of low-income families and individuals with securing food. As a volunteer with Faith Action International, she has ensured that over 1,500 individuals obtained identification cards. She also serves as a volunteer Spanish translator for the City of Burlington Police Department.

“I love my home at the Willows that provides me with independence, safety, and a home to age in place,” Betsalel says. She doesn’t have any immediate plans to slow down. “I love to help make people happy and their lives better,” she says. “I especially love supporting people who lack adequate resources, like those needing a court advocate or translator. I have a very strong desire to be useful and to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Joy Cline, chief marketing officer, United Church Homes and Services.

Richard Kilgore

Christwood, Covington, LA

When Richard Kilgore decided to move into a Christwood apartment in September 2018, he made a request without precedent. He wasn’t asking to bring a dog, a cat, or even a bird. He wanted to bring his honeybees—all 20,000 of them.

Christwood photo
Richard Kilgore

A retired Shell Oil engineer, Kilgore took up beekeeping while living in the Beau Chene subdivision in Mandeville, LA. He began with 2 hives, which over time grew to 6. He also began harvesting honey—gallons of it.

“Beekeeping is hard work,” he explains, “especially the harvesting. There’s a lot of heavy lifting involved, and I’m just not up to it anymore. But I have a lot of help here at Christwood,” he adds with a smile.

The help Kilgore refers to is the “Bee Team,” consisting of Ken Hamlin, Christwood’s director of IT services, plus 3 members of his staff: Michael Sara and brothers Paul and Lester Krobert. The group contributes a lot of volunteer time to keep the bees alive and well, and to harvest the honey. The first harvest, in late summer 2019, yielded somewhere between 5 and 8 gallons of raw honey, according to Hamlin.

Now, after the passing of his wife, Richard calls Christwood home. The sign outside his apartment door reads “Bee Calm and Buzz On,” and buzz on he does. He is a member of the Christwood singers, frequents the gym and the pool, and goes out in the evening to dinner and musical events with other residents.

“I never seem to have time to do it all,” Kilgore says with a smile. “But I love it here and I’m convinced that this is the best place I can be at this time in my life.”

Elizabeth Jackson, marketing director, Christwood

Richard Kreidler

Westminster Village Allentown, Allentown, PA

Bethlehem native Richard Kreidler's photographic journey began at a young age, when he struck out to capture black and white images on his small box camera, an early Kodak model. He not only enjoyed capturing the subjects, but his fascination with developing the images only increased his photographic fervor.

Westminster Village Allentown photo
Richard Kreidler

Kreidler's love of photography remained strong throughout his school years, when he could often be found photographing Liberty High School wrestling matches and football games. His interests paved the way to an enduring relationship with Bethlehem Steel; in 1952, he began his 40-year career with the company.

Six months after starting his job, he was called to serve in the U.S. Army, and was a regimental photographer stationed in Trieste, Italy.

Upon completion of his tour of duty, Kreidler returned to Bethlehem Steel in 1956 and was transferred to the advertising department to make films. He filmed the construction of structures including the Newport Bridge, the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, all built with Bethlehem steel. He would travel to various plants to film and assist in the sales and promotion of the company's products. He also filmed in mines for the production of safety films.

Later, Kreidler participated in TV productions for the company. He retired in 1992 and continues to do freelance photography.

Heather Reaser, community life director, Westminster Village Allentown

Mickey Glickman

Abernethy Laurels, Newton, NC

Mickey Glickman craves real adventure. At the top of her adventure list is ziplining.

Glickman, 82, has always considered herself daring. In late summer, the retirement community where she lives had a trip planned to the coast, but when a hurricane was expected to make landfall, the trip was canceled. Glickman was disappointed. She wanted to be on the beach when the hurricane arrived to feel the strong winds and jump in the choppy ocean water. And when Glickman and her friends went on a cruise a few months back, she could not wait to go down the spiraling slide that started on the 14th deck of the cruise ship.

In October, Glickman mentioned to a staff member at Abernethy Laurels that she really wanted to go ziplining.

Abernethy Laurels photo
Mickey Glickman ziplines in Charlotte, NC.

 

“Mickey shared with me that she had been wanting to go for a long time,” says Greg Rossidivito, director of life enrichment at Abernethy Laurels. “At first I thought she was joking, but she wasn’t.”

Rossidivito nominated Glickman for Grant a Dream, a program through the retirement community that strives to create experiences and special moments for older adults. Glickman was selected. One Friday, Rossidivito and Glickman went to the U.S. Whitewater Center in Charlotte and soared through the air, exactly like Glickman had dreamed of doing. The experience was as wonderful as she expected it to be.

“Gliding through the air was so exhilarating,” says Glickman. “I had wanted to zipline for years, but never felt like I had the right opportunity. Now at 82 years old, the timing just felt right.”

Glickman said she has always been considered a little daring, but her desire for adventure has grown stronger with age. When asked what her family thought of her recent ziplining experience, Glickman said, “Nothing really surprises them anymore. They are glad that I’m having fun and living life to the fullest.”

Next on Glickman’s bucket list is rafting in the Colorado River.

Shaylyn Ladd, director of community engagement, United Church Homes and Services

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.