Seventy-somethings keep themselves busy

  • Lee Wilder looks at the Hopkinton Town Clock at First Congregational Church. Sarah Pearson / Concord Monitor

  • Carol Currier holds up one of her watercolor paintings. Sarah Pearson / Concord Monitor

  • Tom Sherman leads a chair yoga class at GoodLife Programs. SARAH PEARSON / Concord Monitor

  • Jo Hendry gets moving at a Lindy Hop class. —Courtesy

  • Dave Hess smiles with a wild Argentinian donkey last month. —Courtesy

Published: 4/22/2019 1:24:48 PM
Carol Currier

Age: 75

Hometown: Concord

What keeps you busy?

I am co-chairwoman of the board of directors of an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, called EngAGING New Hampshire. I also participate in the Elder Rights Coalition and I am also involved with the N.H Alliance for Healthy Aging advocacy workgroup, so we do a lot of work about legislation.

I come to exercise classes at GoodLife and on Friday mornings we have open studio. ... We might have someone doing beading, or quilting, or acrylics, or watercolors, or Zentangle. They just come in and do whatever they want. We just have a really good time. It’s such a cohesive little group that when the room isn’t available – if there’s something going on (at GoodLife) – we have Plan B, which is Bread and Chocolate. We don’t do any artwork, we just gab and eat in a crowd of friends.

How did you get involved with or interested in these activities?

Well, I have a degree in fine arts, but I was raised with the belief that art was wonderful but it didn’t necessarily earn you a living. So I had “real jobs” and one of my jobs ended up being with the state of New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. I served different roles there and starting in 1982, I was chief of policy when the state decided to look at an alternative to nursing homes, called the Home and Community-based Care Waiver Program, so I got my feet wet with that. I was a Medicaid program administrator; I had everything from prenatal care to nursing homes, and when they split Medicaid up, I went with the long-term care unit. So I’ve been involved with a lot of long-term care stuff for a long time. ... The state does not have a comprehensive approach at looking at our aging population and so one of the goals that EngAGING has had is to bring that awareness and make sure there’s a consumer voice and to work toward a more comprehensive approach. So right now, we have legislation pending, along with the Alliance for Healthy Aging, that would establish a commission on aging that would hopefully start to look holistically at what happens when you have an aging population: housing, transportation, all sorts of things.

My goal was to do art, but I began to see the system from a different perspective as my parents aged and went through it. I realized that we needed to do something about that.

What advice would you give to someone interested in getting active?

We all have a built-in guidance system. We know when something we’ve done makes us feel good about ourselves; I think that’s what you need to follow. I think it’s wonderful that we recognize individuals who have outstanding things, like our 77-year-old woman who ran the (Boston) Marathon, but I hope that we don’t, in looking at that kind of situation, discourage people from their inner guidance. Maybe what you want to do is something out there public, and maybe it’s just for yourself. Maybe you always wanted to learn a musical instrument, and now you have the time to do it. Maybe your adult children have really busy, busy lives and you are the person who can spend time with and listen to a grandchild. Maybe you get into a group that knits hats for patients undergoing chemotherapy. The senior center is a really good place to look at opportunities to connect and to explore. Volunteer N.H. is another wonderful resource.

Tom Sherman

Age: 71

Hometown: Goshen

What keeps you busy?

I teach yoga, tai chi and meditation.

I volunteer as an archeologist technician. I’ve dug in New Hampshire, Maine, New York and Texas.

How did you get involved with or interested in these activities?

I first got interested in meditation when I was in Vietnam. I was in the Marine Corps. I saw these monks that were meditating and, of course, culturally it was different to see people meditating and chanting. I was in the midst of this war and then I would see these people who seem really peaceful. I didn’t quite understand what they were doing, but it looked pretty good to me. So I started experimenting with meditation and talking with a Buddhist monk I met who could speak pretty good English.

I took yoga teacher certification in kripalu yoga in 1987. I was working full-time as the executive director of a nonprofit organization here and abroad. I decided that I’d done a lot of yoga and I thought that would be a good thing as a business and an opportunity to share yoga with people. I was one of the first yoga teachers in Concord and one of the first teachers, I think, in the state to actually do it full time. It just took off; it was just amazing. And I’ve been teaching ever since.

For the archeology: I’ve always been interested by history. I traveled the world – I went to the pyramids in Egypt for example, I went to Vietnam, Thailand – whenever I traveled around and there any kind of temples, churches or just any type of old building, I was just fascinated.

So I trained with the state of New Hampshire program, State Conservation and Rescue Archeology Program; I’ve been training with them for the last 10 years.

What advice would you give to someone interested in getting active?

To become involved with the archeology program, people could contact N.H. SCRAP and they’re always looking for volunteers. They have digs every summer in New Hampshire and they’re called field schools. Even if you have no experience at all, they take you and they match you up with teachers an d experts and they train you how to dig. If you’re interested in history, it’s just a fantastic opportunity and the people are very nice. It’s very grounding. Pun intended. You’ve got your hands in the dirt looking for artifacts; some of the artifacts we’re finding in New Hampshire that are 11,500 years old.

For tai chi or yoga: Just find a class. Sometimes the idea of yoga that frightens people is that they think you have to be rubber woman or rubber man to do it. That’s a big hurdle for people. ... But the best thing would be to just find a class and give it a try. People really like it. I really want to encourage people to just give it a try.

Lee Wilder

Age: 77

Hometown: Hopkinton

What keeps you busy?

Among other things, I am the current “caretaker” of Hopkinton Precinct’s 1891 Town Clock.

This clock strikes the Town’s 1811 Revere and Sons, Boston, Mass., brass bell.

In 1891, summer residents of Hopkinton held a fundraiser concert to raise money for the clock and it’s installation in the town meeting house/congregational church. It was up and running at 5:35 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 1891. 

I get involved in this because it wasn’t running. This was in 2002 or something. So I went to a precinct meeting and I said “why isn’t the clock running?” They said, “We don’t know. See what you can do.”

As for historical projects besides the Town Clock and Revere Bell, I am involved with the Kimball Lake Cabins and the Hopkinton Village Precinct’s 1845 Hand Pumper and Hose Reel Wagon, built by the W.C. Hunneman Co., Boston, Mass.

Well again, it’s a bunch of us. Somehow, I’ve probably ended up overseeing. With the Kimball Lake Cabin committee ... there’s a subset of that committee doing the repairs there. 

I’m also the current chairman of the conservation commission.

How did you get involved with or interested in these activities?

Well I’m interested in old things, and I just thought that since the clock is up there, it ought to be running. That’s when I went to the precinct. And they know me enough to entrust me. 

What advice would you give to someone interested in getting active?

We’re always looking for volunteers, though with the clock, right now we don’t need anybody.  The Kimball Lake Cabin committee chinking crew (the repair crew) is always looking for people; just get in touch with Paula. It’s mostly carpentry stuff. 

David W. Hess

Age: Nearing 77

Hometown: Hooksett

What keeps you busy?

■Teaching five to six courses annually at OLLI on diverse subjects. My classes over the last several years have included “Picking-the-President 2016”; “D-Day”; “Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch”; “John Winant, A Most Extraordinary Man”; “Impeachment: Will Donald J. Trump be Next?”; “The Vietnam War”; and “Vikings.”

■Extensive foreign independent travel, including trips over the last 15 months to China; Honduras and Guatemala; Normandy and Brittany, France; Labrador and Newfoundland, Canada; Ireland; Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Easter Island; and Churchill, Manitoba (to visit with the polar bears). We try to get a foreign trip in every two to three months.

■Active exercise regimen at the Manchester YMCA and extensive walking.

■Member of the Hooksett Conservation Commission.

■Member of the Legislative Ethics Commission. (My second career, after 37 years as a trial attorney, was as a 25-year member of the N.H. House of Representatives, ending a few years ago when I was 74.)

■Chairman of the N.H. Decennial Retirement Commission (a statutory body charged with studying the N.H. Retirement System, appointed by Gov. Sununu, which filed its final report in January 2018).

■Palling around with my 6-year-old chocolate Lab, Herschel (big, strong and fast like his namesake Herschel Walker).

How did you get involved with or interested in these activities?

Government and politics have been a passion of mine since I was an undergraduate at Dartmouth and worked on the Nelson Rockefeller Presidential Campaign in 1963-64.

Land conservation and historic preservation have been ongoing interests for many decades, including my legislative support for and service for almost a decade on the board of LCHIP, as well as involvement in the Forest Society and Bear-Paw Regional Greenways.

I needed a third career to keep me busy, so I tried teaching – and liked it. I select subjects I am already interested in and want to learn more about, and then read extensively about them.

What advice would you give to someone interested in getting active?

Follow your passions, stay active, keep healthy, and don’t take yourself too seriously. I have always been mindful of the need (as recommended by all “retirement-living” books and articles, etc.) to find “purpose” in life after work. Find something that makes you want to get up in the morning and go!

Pursue an existing avocation with your additional free time. Politics and government service were always a parallel track in my life, so it was natural and easy to elevated my involvement there after retiring as an attorney.

Find something new that gets your juices running and keeps your mind wondering (and wandering, for that matter).

Get regular exercise to keep your weight and medications down; or for no other reason than to “die healthy.”

Joreen Hendry

Age: 72¾

Hometown: Dunbarton

What keeps you busy?

Volunteering is a big one, for a lot of groups. I volunteer with two boards of director and two advisory committees. I volunteer for OLLI, the senior group (I present classes; I’m a class assistant and I’m right now involved with setting up the senior citizen science project, it’s going to be a statewide effort.)

I volunteer at St. Anselm’s School of Nursing as a patient simulator. In that particular one, I’m the “agitated grandmother of a stabbing victim.” I have to burst into where they’ve got their mannequin on the bed and they’re trying to save of the life of supposedly my grandson and I have to be erratic and awful so they can practice de-escalation.

I recently started with the Social Work School in a different persona; they’re practicing intake forms. So I have to be someone’s who is going crazy because my husband has cancer and I’m not allowed to tell anybody and our children are far away.

I play a lot of tennis. I took up tennis when I was 68. I hadn’t been able to play it up until then; I didn’t have time. And I really, really like it. Right now, I’m on two teams and captain of a third team. Tons of time spent doing that.

I was doing tai chi and ballroom dancing for 12 years, and then when I took up tennis, I had to cut something out. I just didn’t have time, or the money really, to do all of it. The tennis has absorbed it.

A big part of my volunteering is the educational farm at Joppa Hill in Bedford. I am on their board of directors plus I work with the summer camps that we run. I maintain the children’s garden, help with field trips, write the curriculum.

Gardening. My husband and I take care of a fairly large area. I’m active with the Dunbarton Garden Club.

I do a lot of online Solitaire.

How did you get involved with or interested in these activities?

I was a conservation education major and then I taught math and science for a thousand years. Then when I retired, I was still able to do a lot of the things that I did before.

I connected with the farm because I was the math and science coordinator for the Bedford School District for 16 years. I was the liaison for the farm and that got me connected with them. That also got me connected with the Bedford Land Trust advisory committee.

OLLI is because of friends who were members and told me about it. And once you jump off the end of the dock you swim, swim, swim.

Tennis just because I wanted to.

What advice would you give to someone interested in getting active?

First, certainly to get involved with OLLI; I would highly recommend that for anyone recently retire. It’s stimulating mentally. It gets you with people. There are travel opportunities (I haven’t really traveled with them but I know it’s there.)

Plus, checking out with your friends and seeing what’s going on.

I haven’t got any kind of a church affiliation, but I mean that’s pretty big for people who would be doing that.

There’s always an opportunity to help. Most of the things, except for the selfishness of tennis and gardening, are kind of like helping things.

I strongly encourage people to get out and explore what’s going on. There are so many connections, especially as we get older. You know we have a lot of connections with people we know and things we’ve seen happening. Just be open to it.




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