Success{FULL} role model

Meet Neal Gamsky

Dr. Neal Gamsky describes himself as “a high-energy person.” The 84-year-old leads an active life with Irene, his wife of nearly 60 years. Born into “abject poverty”, Neal met Irene in elementary school. The two later became high school sweethearts. At age 25, after graduating from college with bachelor’s degrees in education—and his two-year stint in the US Army completed—they married.

Education and working with young people have played a central role in the couple’s lives. Irene, a teacher, earned a master’s degree in counseling. Neal followed his time in the army with law school, a master’s in psychology, and three years as a high school counselor. “I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” he says of their two daughters, who also have advanced degrees.

In 1962, a persistent professor persuaded Neal to pursue a doctorate—and the degree opened a new life chapter. He worked in a psychiatric facility at the University of Wisconsin and for the state in mental health. This led to an opportunity at Illinois State University (ISU). “They brought me there to start a counseling center and teach clinical psychology,” Neal shares. “I became a full tenured professor, and I taught for several years before being appointed Vice President and Dean of Students”; he continued to teach clinical psychology for another 20 years. Today, three awards at ISU are named after him.

Building a life at Touchmark
Since moving to Touchmark, the couple has become involved in numerous activities offered through the Full Life Wellness & Life Enrichment Program™. They continue to participate in outside activities, as well.

Neal enjoys trophy fishing, gardening, and photography; reads medical research and financial reports (“it keeps my brain sharp”); and attends plays, musicals, and lectures with his wife. In addition, he exercises for two hours on most days of the week. Neal serves on the Touchmark Resident Council (he was formerly president), and the party-loving couple invites other residents into their home “so we can get to know them.” They are also ICAA Champions. “I like trying to get people involved in trips and other activities,” Neal says.

He encourages others to eat well, exercise, and participate in intellectual activities.

For Neal, active aging “means engaging yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally in the community and for yourself. You have to stay active—exercise, be involved intellectually and emotionally, and interact socially. It means having a sense of curiosity.”

Outside the community, the couple advises older friends to downsize. “Things don’t create your life, people do,” Neal observes. “We let friends know that you’re not giving up your life when you downsize. Instead, you’ll be more engaged in life, if you move out of a large, demanding home.”

It’s all about perspective
Neal also finds that a positive attitude to aging makes a difference. “I’m trying to grow old cheerfully,” he stresses. Someone who naturally jokes a lot, he cites the example of his mother, who died at age 96 and “always chose to look forward to tomorrow.”

Travel is a particular passion. Every year includes a three-month stay in Florida for the couple, who’ve “been to all 50 states and visited every presidential home, museum, birthplace, and many of their graves,” Neal shares. The world travelers have explored every country in Europe, plus Finland, Russia, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. His once or twice a year travelogues are enjoyed by Touchmark residents.

Young people, too, have learned from these active-aging role models. “My wife and I gave back-to-back presentations—six of them—to high-school health classes for sophomores, juniors, and seniors combined,” Neal reveals. Pre-presentation surveys asked the teenagers their biggest worry about growing old. “You’ll never guess what most students answered,” says the former high-school counselor and grandfather of four—“getting wrinkles!” Among the words of wisdom he shared with the students? “Age is not a matter of years; it’s a matter of perception.”

Filling her days with enthusiasm

Caroline DeinemaMeet Caroline Deinema

Caroline has converted one of her bedrooms into what she calls her “activity room.” In it, she has her loom and spinning wheel, her sewing machine, and her computer.

But Caroline’s interests travel way beyond that room. In her parlor, she has a harp; on her wrist, an Apple watch; in her refrigerator, homemade yogurt; and beyond her front door more pursuits.

“I feel I’ve been given the enthusiasm for interesting things,” says Caroline.

Caroline grew up in Madison County, Iowa, and then attended the University of Iowa, where she met her future husband. After graduating, they moved to his hometown of Canton, South Dakota, about 20 minutes south of Sioux Falls.

With her nursing diploma, Caroline sometimes worked in a doctor’s office, but mostly, she devoted herself to being a full-time mother and wife. She and her husband raised two sons and a daughter.

“My husband had a Ford dealership for 35 years; we were married for 42 years.”

In 2012, on her 80th birthday, she moved to Touchmark.

“I moved to Touchmark, because I had been taking care of our home by myself for 20 years after my husband died, and I just wanted to retire from that,” she says.

A fascination with “strings”
Near Caroline’s loom is a beautifully handcrafted spinning wheel from Norway that once belonged to her mother-in-law. Caroline first learned how to weave by going to a workshop. She then became interested in spinning the wool, which led to making her own natural dyes. “I collected weeds and cooked them on the stovetop.”

Nowadays, she focuses on the spinning and weaving. “I have lots of ideas for new projects.”

About 30 years ago, Caroline was visiting with a piano teacher who also gave harp lessons. Fascinated by the beautiful instrument, Caroline began lessons. After three months, she bought her own harp.

When she’s not playing her harp for her own pleasure, which she does frequently, Caroline shares her talent. “I play throughout Touchmark around Christmas time and as background music for special occasions.”

A reputation as a techie
Caroline is absorbed with technology and owns an iPad, iPhone, Mac desktop computer, and her most recent purchase, her Apple watch. She is self-taught and considers technology an essential part of her life.

Caroline uses her devices to play games, do online banking, shop, read e-books—and help others.

“Often when I’m with a group of friends, a question will arise, and someone will look over at me and say, ‘Caroline, just look it up on your machine!’”

She also appreciates the health benefits. “Learning technology or new music is very healthy for the brain.”

Always learning new uses for her equipment, Caroline especially gets a kick out of teaching her kids a few things.

She says that one of her sons loves to brag about his mother to his friends. “He’ll say, ‘Now who do you know that’s 82 years old who owns an iPad, iPhone, and an Apple watch—and knows how to use them!’”

Exploring the world abroad
Caroline has traveled quite a bit. She has visited China, South America, Haiti, and the Galapagos Islands (her favorite trip).

When she was 70, she hiked the Grand Canyon with her daughter, taking five days to hike down to the Colorado River and back.

She also has a time-share in Cabo, Mexico, and meets her children there once a year.

“The weird thing about me is, I really like the South Dakota winters,” Caroline confesses. “I’m not interested in being a snowbird and going to warm places to escape. I want to stay here during the winter. I just turn on the fireplace and watch the snow fall.”

And exploring her world at home
Caroline has practiced yoga for many years and has added tai chi since moving to Touchmark.

She is not inclined to use the exercise machines, preferring walking. She and her dog are often seen taking morning strolls on the Touchmark paths.

She belongs to a Touchmark book club. She plays Texas Hold’em twice a week at Touchmark and drives 25 miles to Canton once a week to play mah-jongg with friends.

“I used to be very good at cooking, but I’ve sort of relaxed on that. I eat many of my meals in the dining room now. Recently, someone brought me a basket full of vegetables, so I made a couple batches of Ratatouille, my favorite.”

Caroline always makes her own yogurt. “It’s a standard in my refrigerator!”

She also volunteers regularly at the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science. She has worked at the information desk twice a month for nearly 15 years. “It’s such a wonderful environment for seeing art and the artists—a very enriching place to volunteer.”

She also enjoys taking the Touchmark bus with friends to restaurants and special events. “If the bus is scheduled to go to lunch, dinner, or other activity—I’m on it! I really enjoy the social aspects of it.”

“Touchmark is such a wonderful community. When I go away, I really miss it and the people. And when I come back, it is so good to see everyone again. We really look out for each other. It is very much a family and community from the staff to the residents. It’s a great experience.”

Focusing on fun—and family history

Dorothy KrogenDorothy has a Bucket List she’s working her way
through. The last big item is a hot-air balloon ride, and she’s determined to take that ride. She also vows never to go a day without having fun.

Raised on a farm in Killdeer, North Dakota, Dorothy graduated from high school in 1948 and then took a summer course at Dickinson College, a teacher’s college.

“They were so short of teachers back then,” recalls Dorothy, “that you could just take a summer course and teach in a country school.”

After she received her teaching credentials, a friend introduced her to the school board president of a small school. She was hired on the spot to teach five students: a
first-grader, a fourth-grader, two seventh-graders, and one eighth-grader.

That’s where Dorothy met her future husband. “It’s a funny story. This young man rode up on his horse and saw me standing on the porch in a blue dress. … The rest is a
long story.”

Dorothy married this young man in the spring of 1950 and moved to his farm. Together, they raised three children.

Traveling the world
After retiring, Dorothy and her husband enjoyed traveling. They visited many European countries including Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. They toured Australia and cruised through the Panama Canal.

They also traveled all over Canada and the United States, first with their own fifth-wheeler, then with bus tours.

“My favorite place was New York City. I’ve been there three times. I especially loved the Broadway plays. Australia was also a great trip, particularly when my brother was our tour guide.”

In 1981, Dorothy and her husband started making annual treks to Arizona to escape the North Dakota winters. They made many friends from all over the country.

“We had a wonderful life. My husband and I were married almost 60 years before he passed away in 2009.”

Moving to Touchmark
A few years later, Dorothy decided she wanted to move closer to family, so she moved into a Touchmark cottage in the fall of 2013, not too far from her daughter.

Now Dorothy is near six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, with another on the way.

She lives with Molly, a very talkative cat, who loves bringing in “live gifts” for the two of them to play with. Sometimes, Dorothy posts pictures of Molly and these gifts on her Facebook page.

“Touchmark doesn’t just feel like home, it is home. They offer you everything here. The house is wonderful. The people are nice. I just love it here. I can’t say enough nice things about Touchmark.”

Dorothy continues to go to Arizona in the winter months. “This will be my 34th year,” she says. “Molly and I fly down. I’ll keep going as long as I can.”

Every day is eventful “I sign up for everything that Touchmark has to offer.” She dances, takes riverboat cruises, goes on casino excursions, and visits different restaurants with friends.

She also plays pinochle every day. “I like to beat the boys,” she says with a grin.

“Do I work out in the gym? No, that’s not my favorite thing to do. My favorite thing to do is to write books on my family’s history.”

Dorothy’s lifelong passion
When Dorothy married in 1950, she began using her wall calendar to record daily notes on everything she and her family did. In 1960, she began writing a history of her
family, using those notes. She started out using a manual typewriter and pasting pictures onto the pages. “It’s like an autobiography with pictures,” she explains.

She has since exchanged her typewriter for a computer and now scans her pictures into her digital text document. “Oh my, this is so much easier and faster!”

Besides documenting her immediate family, she also researched ancestors. She traced her husband’s family back to 1534 and her own family to about 1746. “When I’d get little bits of information about their lives, I’d make a story out of it.”

Dorothy recently published her third book of family history, covering the years 2009 through 2013, and will soon start on her fourth.

“It takes a lot of my time, but it’s something I love to do. I will do this as long as I live; as long as I am able to do it.”

Philosophy of life
Like many people, Dorothy has a Bucket List. At 86, she still wants to take a hot-air balloon ride.

“I want to do what I want, and have fun every day for the rest of my life!”

He aims to “live life to the fullest”

Paul KimblePaul’s exuberance for life is contagious. That’s because Paul wants to make every day as good as it can be—for himself and for everyone around him.

Raised on a family farm near Hazlehurst, Mississippi, Paul developed a strong work ethic growing up and then worked hard to get an education to launch a successful career.

In 1948, he took a job with Dun & Bradstreet, the US-based, worldwide credit-rating company. “Most of my business knowledge was on-thejob training in the areas of financial analysis, marketing, and management,” says Paul. “I was awarded the company’s presidential citation on two occasions.”

Since key people in the company were often transferred, Paul and his family moved many times during his 25-year tenure.

In 1973, though, Paul decided he did not want to move his wife and two sons again. “I just knew it was time for us to quit moving,” he says. “I’m a family person first and a business person second.” When he was offered a job by The Cardwell Companies (conveniently located in El Paso, Texas, where they were living), Paul left Dun & Bradstreet.

After several years with The Cardwell Companies, he became executive vice president of Petro Shopping Centers, a related company, which grew into a nationwide modern chain of truck stops. He also was vice president of several related companies having operational, marketing, and financial responsibilities.

After almost 25 years at Cardwell, Paul retired in 1997 and remained in El Paso with his wife Mary.

Paul laughs when he says, “I sort of wish I had never retired. I just love to work; I love people!” This love and concern for others was also evident during his 43 years as an active Rotarian.

Traveling the world
Paul and his wife did a lot of traveling after he retired. “We went to Europe 13 times, traveled all over the United States, went to Asia, New Zealand, Australia … you name it,” he says.

“Over the years, my wife and I met a lot of people on our travels. It’s comforting to still get emails from people you met 10 or 15 years ago,” Paul says, adding, “When I lost my wife, it was comforting to get over 100 sympathy cards from people we know. We’ve got a lot of friends.”

Today, Paul continues traveling. He recently went to the Eastern Caribbean for 10 days. In late summer, he’s going on an Alaskan cruise with family, and he’ll soon return to Mississippi for a visit.

Building a life at Touchmark
In 2012, Paul and Mary’s sons began encouraging them to move closer to one of them. That meant relocating to either Ruidoso, New Mexico, or Edmond, Oklahoma (about five minutes from Touchmark).

“Our son in Edmond did a lot of research and talked to many people, and everyone recommended Touchmark,” Paul remembers. After a few conversations with Touchmark, he and his wife made a trip to Edmond and signed an agreement to build a cottage.

“We got to choose a floor plan and customize it with the options we wanted,” explains Paul. They lived in one of the Touchmark apartments while their home was being built, so they were able to walk to the site and see the progress almost daily.

They moved into their new home in February 2013. Ten months later, Paul’s wife passed away unexpectedly.

“We were married 65 years,” says Paul. “I miss her every day, but life goes on.” Today, Paul honors his wife’s memory by continuing to plant the flowers that she loved so much.

“Every day is a good day”
Each morning when Paul gets up, he sends a text to his son in New Mexico that reads, “I’m vertical today.” Paul laughs hard. “That way, he knows I’m fine.”

Paul says he is in excellent health and “still able to do anything I want to do.”

His preferred form of exercise is taking daily walks outside, but he also uses the treadmill at Touchmark. “I walk real fast, and I walk for a long time,” he says. “I just enjoy being outside.”

He also gets exercise by planting flowers in his yard. “My wife loved flowers. Last fall I put out 250 pansies and a lot of vinca.”

Paul stays very busy with activities that combine his love of people with his business background. He is on the Touchmark Resident Council, representing cottage residents. He is also very active in his church, currently serving as the Finance Chair and a member of the Building Committee.

He belongs to a Touchmark singing group and enjoys the fellowship he finds here. “We look out for each other; it’s a supportive group of people here.” He prides himself on getting to know everyone, including the Touchmark staff, who he finds exceptionally helpful.

“Even though I like to plant flowers all of the time, I don’t like to pull weeds. So, they are always coming over and weeding my flowerbeds. And they trim my trees, mow my yard, and come in once a week and clean my house. My needs are all taken care of here,” he says, smiling.

“I want to make every day as good as it can be,” says Paul. “That’s what I live for: To live life to the fullest.”

Pursuing adventures—and fulfilling dreams

Jean and Max JenkinsThe last two years have been especially busy for Jean and Max Jenkins. In 2013, they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary and their 75th birthdays with a series of once-in-a lifetime adventures. They also continued planning the next phase of their life together, refining their search for a retirement community that would provide a continuum of care and full-life opportunities on one campus.

“We traveled and did some adventurous things, like taking a trip to Costa Rica to zip-line over the rainforest through 14 platforms,” says Jean. “We also went skydiving near Star, Idaho.”

They fulfilled individual dreams, too. Max climbed a 13,000-foot peak near Breckenridge, Colorado, and Jean won a Gold Medal in the Lewis-Clark Senior Games in the women’s rimfire handgun event, held in Lewiston, Idaho.

In 2014, the couple did more traveling and finalized their plans to move to Touchmark. “Touchmark best matched our criteria for retirement living,” Max explains. “We like the continuum of care; affordability; attractive, comfortable, and well-maintained homes; opportunities for active living; interesting residents; and the great chef.”

With their love of travel and family—son, daughter, and three grandchildren—scattered across the country, the couple also find Boise’s easily accessible air travel convenient.

Moving was a challenge. “We downsized significantly, holding multiple garage sales, selling through Craigslist, donating items; it was no small undertaking after more than half a century of acquiring stuff,” says Jean. Their house sold within a month, and two months later, the couple had moved into their new Touchmark home.

Advanced degrees, family, and many moves
Jean and Max met during freshman orientation at Idaho State University. While Max finished his five-year pharmacy curriculum, Jean, who received her bachelor’s degree in Home Economics, worked as the home demonstration agent for Bannock County Extension Service.

“Then we moved to Reno, where Max worked at a drugstore chain, and our daughter was born. After a year, we were off to Germany, where Max served as an Army Medical Service Corps Officer.”

Two years later, the family, which now included a son, returned to the US.

“I enrolled at the University of Idaho Law School and worked summers as a pharmacist in Reno,” explains Max. “I worked 80 – 100 hours a week, including the midnight to 4 am shift, seven days a week, in downtown Reno. I saw all kinds of interesting people, including celebrities, during those nights!”

“Our hard work paid off,” beams Max. “At graduation, we were proud to be free from any debt, and we had money in the bank.”

Max was hired by Osco Drug/Jewel Companies in Chicago, passed the Illinois Bar Exam, and became director of Pharmacy Operations before being given the task to start the company’s first photo-finishing plant.

“I then joined Carhart Photo Corporation in Rochester, New York.” As president, he led Carhart’s turnaround before it was sold to a subsidiary of Eastman Kodak. After retiring from Carhart Photo, Max was a nonpaid executive director for the Rochester Habitat for Humanity affiliate.

Called to serve
After years of managing the household, substitute teaching, volunteering, and raising children, Jean took the plunge and entered seminary to pursue a Master’s of Divinity degree. Ordained to Word and Sacrament by the Presbyterian Church in Rochester, Jean served for more than 13 years as a New York state chaplain.

“I worked with people who have developmental disabilities living outside the traditional institutional setting,” says Jean, who pioneered a community-based model of chaplaincy called Merging Two Worlds.

With additional specialized training, Jean served the Presbyterian Church as an intentional interim pastor. “Shortly after we moved to Lewiston, I came out of retirement to serve as the interim pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, just 35 miles to the north in Moscow. We had been members of that church when Max was a law student.”

Life at Touchmark
Today, Jean and Max are busier than ever. “There’s more to do than time allows,” laughs Jean.

Max continues his stock market trading activities along with pursuing a new goal to complete an ancestry chart and keep his photos up to date and accessible “within the cloud.” He also continues to be active with his early morning one-mile run to the local McDonald’s, where he drinks coffee and reads The Wall Street Journal on his Kindle, and then runs back home before breakfast. He also does 132 push-ups plus other exercises each weekday.

Jean is transferring all her sermons to an electronic format, so they, too, can be stored in the cloud. She also continues her quilting projects, painting, making new friends, preaching from time to time, and “staying alert to ways to serve the community at Touchmark.”

And their adventures continue. The two met friends in Park City, Utah, to check out The Extreme at Olympic Park—one of the steepest zip lines in the world. They are also planning a rafting trip in September with four Touchmark friends to the backcountry of the lower Salmon and Snake rivers.

Her motto is, “I’ll try it!”

Meet Clara Braun
Her motto is, “I’ll try it!”

Clara BraunSince moving to Touchmark in the fall of 2011, Clara has taken advantage of nearly every exercise class, social event, group activity, and bus excursion the community offers.

In fact, if it’s on the Touchmark Full Life calendar, Clara has probably tried it.

“I join everything that I have time for. I always have from day one when I moved in here,” she says. Then, she begins listing her current activities: “Posture & Balance. Fit to be Strong. Qigong. Water exercises in the pool … I also play cards and board games. We recently started a singing group, and I go to the coffee hour every afternoon. Let’s see,” she pauses to think, “There is Brain Builders as well as the Bone Builder exercise class I go to twice a week. Whenever the leader can’t come, then I lead the group,” she adds.

“And I join all activities connected to arts and crafts. I also enjoy all of their socials here. Wine socials. Birthday parties. Wonderful entertainment comes in. And a group of us takes the bus out to eat twice a month.”

There are so many things going on around her that Clara often must choose between two or more activities. “I’m lucky that my community has a pool, but sometimes, I can’t get into the pool, because I have something else I want to do.”

Clara is also on the Touchmark Resident Council and works with residents, team members, and administration.

“I like it here. I liked it from the day I moved in,” she says.

A long life of farming and hard work
Born and raised on a farm in Napoleon, about 75 miles southeast of Bismarck, Clara moved to Bismarck after high school. A year later, she married a farmer whose farm was just seven miles out of town.

Clara and her husband raised corn, wheat, barley, oats, alfalfa, and cattle. They also raised one son and three daughters.

After Clara’s husband passed away in 2010, she remained on the farm for about a year and then decided to move into town.

Her daughter encouraged her to move into town, reminding Clara that she was in town almost every day anyway, so she might as well move there.

“So I thought, OK; I want to move into a retirement community, so I won’t have to move again. I went and looked at all of the retirement homes in Bismarck with my daughter, and I decided this was the nicest. I know I chose the right place.”

She explains, “I could have moved to an apartment or bought a condo, but I would still be alone. Here, I have a lot of companions.”

And so many things to do right outside her front door. Clara especially appreciates the Touchmark bus service. “They take us nearly everywhere we want to go. I like that very, very much,” she says. “I also like that they come in and clean my home. I worked hard all of my life, and now I let them come in and clean. And they do the cooking for me, too!”

Clara cherishes time with children, grandchildren, and siblings
While her companions and activities within Touchmark offer more than enough to keep her busy, Clara is also blessed with having a big family with whom she keeps in close touch.

Many of Clara’s close-knit family live nearby. Two daughters live within a short distance of Bismarck: one just a mile away, and the other 13 miles out. Her son lives only 45 miles away, and her other daughter is in Virginia. Grandchildren also live within visiting distance. Plus, she has 10 living siblings, eight brothers and two sisters.

Clara participates in a lot of family birthday parties and holiday celebrations throughout the year and enjoys traveling with family. She recently toured Israel with one of her daughters—and rode a camel. She has taken her four children and their spouses to Alaska and Hawaii.

A time to fully enjoy life
Living on a farm all of her life except the one year she lived in Bismarck between high school and marriage meant Clara didn’t have extra time for personal pursuits.

“When I was younger, I was lucky if I got to travel outside of North Dakota. We didn’t travel until the last 25 or 30 years.”

Once their son was old enough to stay home and take care of the farm, Clara and her husband started traveling quite a bit, including trips to Europe. They also went to Arizona for 14 winters to escape the cold and snow.

Now, Clara is enjoying the freedom to pursue a variety of activities.

“My approach to life is to exercise and eat healthy,” she says. “And live life to the fullest!'”

Palette of interests keeps their marriage colorful and full of life

Joan and Bill GreenenJoan and Bill Geenen celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in October 2011.

Bill says that many people started asking them what their secret to a successful marriage was. He did some serious thinking about that question and concluded, “The secret is that when we got married, we knew it was for life, and anything else was not an option. So we just had to make it work.”

Both natives of the Appleton, Wisconsin area, their lives crossed paths just after Joan graduated from high school. Bill joined the Navy through the NROTC program after graduating from Marquette University, and it wasn’t until he returned home that they were married in the fall of 1961.

The couple raised three children. One son lives in Appleton, about three miles from them, while another lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and a daughter lives in San Jose, California. Joan and Bill agree that it’s nice having one son so close and also nice having two good excuses to take road trips from coast to coast. Although their lives have been joined for more than half of a century, Bill and Joan have managed to remain distinct individuals with many of their own interests and activities—another secret to their successful marriage. One thing they certainly have in common is a shared passion for the natural world and helping to preserve its beauty. Joan helps preserve it in her breathtaking artwork, while Bill preserves it through various conservation efforts.

Capturing nature through art
Joan—known as “Jo” in the art world—discovered a lifelong passion for painting when her youngest was just a few years old. With no previous background in art, she enrolled in an oil painting class with a friend at the Appleton YMCA, and was smitten.

“Over the years, I’ve worked with oils, water colors, acrylics, and finally ended up with pastels,” she says. “That’s all I work in now.”

Joan is deeply touched by the natural world and our place in it. Her artwork captures her subjects in a masterful blending of rich colors infused with motion, emotion, and brilliant highlights. She divides her paintings into at least four favorite categories: gardens, floral/botanical, landscapes, and seashores.

Today, her work is featured in private and corporate collections across the country as well as in many art galleries. Her pastels have been juried into national shows and won awards, and she has inspired many budding artists seeking to improve their technique in pastel painting.

Since 1972, she has been an active member of various organizations in the Appleton art community. (You can view her work at www. pastelpainting.com.) Several of Joan’s paintings can be seen in the Meadows at Touchmark and the Grande, the main building.

Preserving nature through conservation efforts
One organization that greatly benefits from Bill’s enthusiasm for the natural environment is the private, nonprofit Northeast Wisconsin Land Trust.

With 22 years of experience as the CFO for a regional airline, Bill serves as treasurer for the Land Trust. According to Bill, “The Trust’s mission is to preserve lands that protect our waters, landscapes, and natural habitats in 12 counties. This is made possible primarily through conservation easements granted by landowners, who voluntarily restrict their rights to develop their property. In exchange for giving up certain development rights, owners receive tax deductions.

“It seems to be a successful program,” Bill says. “We have about 40 easements right now that we manage. We also buy some properties. One purchase covered about 300 acres on the west shore of Green Bay. It’s pretty significant,” he says with pride. Another great source of pride is the 27 solar panels that Bill and Joan installed on the roof of their Touchmark single-family home in fall 2009. “They are working better than ever,” Bill says. “In fact, we’ve set records by generating over 700 kilowatt hours of power last year.” Bill figures that on an annual basis, the panels generate about 20% more power than they use. “So we are helping the grid out fairly substantially.” Bill and Joan have hosted several Solar Open Houses (sponsored by a state solar organization) in their Touchmark home.

Living their personal philosophies
When asked if they have a philosophy of life, Joan says hers is “giving back.”

“That means helping others as they have helped me,” she says.

Among other things, she has volunteered one day every week for 20 years as the receptionist at LEAVEN (Limited Emergency Assistance Valley Ecumenical Network). She also gives a gift to the world every time she creates another painting.

For Bill, his philosophy is more of an attitude with which he greets each day. “I’m a pretty optimistic person,” he days. “I always see the bright side of things. I look forward.” For example, instead of choosing not to put such a large investment into solar panels this late in life, he tells everyone, “I’m just not leaving here until I get them paid for!” He’s not the kind to let pessimism stop him from doing exactly what he wants to do.

Everything they need under one roof
The Geenens reserved a building lot almost three years before finally deciding to build their Fox Pointe home at Touchmark. They’ve been here since spring 2006. “We chose this site especially, because the house could be faced to have a western exposure to give me the best light for my painting studio,” Joan explains.

Theirs is a three-bedroom home with one room converted into an office. And where others have an outdoor patio, they enclosed a studio for Jo. Bill enjoys the creek that runs along the back boundary. He has his own dock to fish from, and he has a neighbor with a small boat; the two of them paddle about in it.

Joan and Bill both keep very busy schedules, enjoying full lives in their own unique ways. At Touchmark, they have developed a circle of friends while never being far from their other Appleton friends and family.

Speaking for both, Bill says, “I’d say living here has changed our lives for the better.”

Staying active is key to enjoying life

Joan Schnettler is all about being active. Whether it’s attending exercise class, taking computer classes, connecting with people around the world through her iPad, participating in Life Enrichment/Wellness programs, or going on Touchmark-sponsored trips, she’s always on the move.

“I really believe that you need to keep moving and stay active. You also need to exercise your mind just like you would your body,” says Joan, who has lived in a Touchmark home for the past six-and-a-half years.

After moving to Touchmark, she jumped in and immediately got involved in various activities. She walks to the Grande, the main building, for programs and the different classes. She also walks a mile each day, either outside or in the Grande. This is in addition to her exercise classes five days a week—three days of strength training and two days of aerobics.

As someone who likes to be on the go, Joan relishes Touchmark’s different trips. It doesn’t matter if it’s a day visit to The Fireside Theater in Fort Atkinson to see a play or an overnight trip; Joan is on board. “I love how they extend my horizons,” she says.

Enduring love
Joan and her husband Jerry were best friends and married for 63 years. After the war, the couple settled in Milwaukee, where they lived for 45 years. An electrical engineer, Jerry built a career with Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, ultimately serving as president.

Joan, meanwhile, was a master homemaker and focused her talents on nurturing the couple’s children. Following retirement, she and Jerry spent the winters in Florida and summers at their lake home in Minocqua, Wisconsin.

“We moved to Touchmark to be closer to some family,” says Joan, who especially appreciated the support of others after Jerry passed away two-and-a-half years ago.

Keeping in touch with technology
Joan welcomes all of today’s technology. “It’s wonderful,” enthuses Joan when she talks about getting texts from her loved ones. “I bought an iPad and am going to the technology classes Touchmark offers to learn more about how to use the iPad. You can’t stop learning,” she says.

Attending the technology and other classes Touchmark offers allows Joan to expand her knowledge about a rich array of topics—and share laughter and learning with others.

“It’s a great way to be social. I love living here. I can have my own house, but yet I can go over to the main building for meals as well as all the programs,” says Joan. “I don’t want to just stay home and be a hermit.”

An advocate of whole-person wellness, Joan devotes time each day to attend mass.

She also enjoys exercising her brain by playing bridge, both online with people from around the world and with other residents at Touchmark.

“I really enjoy the people I meet at the different programs as well as on the trips,” she says.

“It is really a lot of fun.”

This couple has walked in all 50 states and eight foreign countries

Meet Catharine and Bill ByrdMeet Catharine and Bill Byrd
This couple has walked in all 50 states and eight foreign countries

Catharine and Bill Byrd have always shared a love of travel—especially on their own two feet. In addition to each state in America, the couple has participated in walks in Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, Denmark, and Luxembourg.

Bill’s career offered him various job opportunities, which eventually relocated the family to Vancouver, Washington. That’s where the couple discovered their passion for Volkswalking.

“I was a dedicated mall-walker at that time,” recalls Catharine. “One day, out of curiosity, I attended a talk on Volkswalking. I went home and told Bill this was something we might like to try.”

So they tried it, says Catharine, “And we were hooked!”

“When Bill traveled for business,” she recalls, “we’d stay a few days longer and do 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) Volkswalks in the nearby states.”

Bill adds, “We did enough walking to keep our weekends busy for a number of years.”

The couple has now logged official Volkswalks in all 50 states and in the process seen some gorgeous scenery. “Volkswalking is a great way to see the country, because you see the little things that you miss when you’re zipping by in a car,” says Bill.

The Byrds became charter members in a Volkswalking group that began over 15 years ago in Vancouver. The club is still active, but Bill and Catharine tend to take shorter walks on their own these days or head out with a Touchmark walking group.

From Alabama to Washington
Both Catharine and Bill were born and raised in Alabama.

When Bill was just 18, the US was pulled into World War II, and he joined the Army. “I wound up in the infantry,” he says, “so that was really the start of my walking. Bill remained in the Army Reserves for 21 years, serving in both Europe and Asia.

After he returned from service, Bill enrolled in Auburn University in Alabama, where he met and married Catharine.

In those days, it was common for women to leave college once they were married, so Catharine dropped out of school while her husband finished his degree in Chemical Engineering. Later, Catharine returned to school and got her degree in Accounting at the University of Portland.

Right out of school, Bill landed a job at a foundry in Alabama. Soon, though, he and the family were transferred to southern California, and then to Columbus, Indiana. While there, he took a job with a competitor and relocated to Vancouver, Washington, where he and Catharine have lived for the last 40 years.

After earning her Accounting degree in their new home, Catharine taught in a business school. “Then I used my degree to volunteer in a lot of organizations, including our church as treasurer for almost nine years.”

The Byrds raised a daughter and three sons. They now boast seven grandchildren and two greatgrandchildren. The whole family gets together at least once a year.

Opting for easier living
A few years ago, the Byrds decided it was time for them to let go of the chore of maintaining their own home and yard.

“We already belonged to the Touchmark Health & Fitness Club, so we knew people here, and we were familiar with Touchmark.”

Still, they did their research and looked at other retirement communities in the area. In the end, they chose Touchmark.

“We liked the light and open feeling here at Touchmark when you walk in the front doors,” says Catharine. “And the people here are great.”

Bill chimes in, “And now we don’t have to drive crosstown to the fitness club; we just ride down the elevator.”

The Byrds originally moved into a Terrace apartment. When a larger apartment with more storage became available in the main building, they took it.

Staying physically and mentally active
Bill continues to take full advantage of Touchmark’s Health & Fitness Club. “I do yoga two days a week and work out on the machines the other three days,” he says. He especially likes using the pneumatic weight-lifting system and the rowing machine in his workouts.

Catharine used to take aerobic dance and now participates in the SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life) class three days a week.

Walking is still a favorite way for them to get their exercise between classes and workouts.

They also volunteer on various Touchmark committees. Catharine is head of the Dining Committee, while Bill volunteers on the Interior and Dining committees.

“There are a lot of activities here to participate in,” says Bill. “In fact,” he says with a smile, “it can put a bit of a strain on you trying to keep up with it all.”

Catharine laughs with her husband. “There’s certainly no reason to be bored here!”

Since they have lived in Vancouver for more than 40 years, they also keep active with people they knew before moving into Touchmark.

A philosophy to live by …
Catharine says, “I’ve always looked at my life in terms of stages: the Alabama Stage, the California Stage, and so forth. I try not to look back and regret things … You have to always look forward to the different phases of your life.”

Although the Byrds have many medals to show for their accomplishments, they still have much to look forward to—and do so with the same passion they always have.

Fascinated with the past—and living a full life

Meet Joyce and Jim HolterMeet Joyce and Jim Holter
Fascinated with the past—and living a full life

If you want to know anything about the 70-foot, world-famous Hjemkomst (Homecoming) Viking Ship or the replica Hopperstad Stave Kirke (church), Jim would be delighted to take you on a tour of The Hjemkomst Center, where he is a docent.

If you’d like to know more about genealogy and how to use a computer to research and record your own family history, Joyce is your expert.

On any given day, you could also find Joyce baking her special bread that the grandchildren call Grandma Bread or working on her computer helping
update the Touchmark resident story album. Jim is just as busy, practicing with the Touchmark choir and volunteering at Touchmark’s convenience store.

Their cottage home is inviting, warmly decorated to reflect their Scandinavian heritage.

To Fargo—and back again
Joyce was born and raised in Kindred, a small town in the same county as Fargo. She and Jim met at North Dakota State University, where Jim completed his undergraduate degree.

The couple soon married and moved to Ames, Iowa, where Jim earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a Master of Science in Veterinary Pathology at Iowa State University. While he was taking classes, Joyce worked in Student Services, learning to use a computer and build databases, a skill she has used her entire life.

After graduating in 1957, the couple moved to Casselton, North Dakota, where Jim was a practicing veterinarian for 15 years. They then returned to Ames, and Jim started a 20-year tenure as a professor at Iowa State University.

Also in that timeline, the couple raised four children—two girls and two boys—all of whom eventually graduated from Iowa State University.

“We retired young,” Jim says. “I was 61, and Joyce was 57.”

Their own hjemkomst (homecoming) eventually led them back to Fargo. Joyce says, “When it came time for us to retire, we came home to what was really home to us.”

A long-planned move
When they first retired, though, the Holters bought a home on a lake in Minnesota.

“At that time,” Jim recalls, “I said to Joyce, ‘When I turn 80, we’ll think about doing something different. And she held me to it!”

So when Jim turned 80, Joyce reminded her husband of his promise. “By that time,” Jim says, “I was getting tired of maintaining the lake home, mowing the lawn, taking care of the boat and dock … ”

Joyce continues. “When Touchmark had an open house, we went to look at their cottages.” And they both liked what they saw.

“Now,” says Joyce, “whenever we go and visit other folks in the community, we always come home and say, ‘Oh, we have the best place!'”

Jim adds, “We’ve lived in many homes, and this is about the most comfortable that we’ve ever lived in.”

Joyce, the genealogist, adds, “And after we moved in here, I found out that I have three third cousins living here, too! I could show you exactly how we are related!”

Enjoying each day to its fullest
Because both are half Norwegian (Jim is also part Dane), it is only natural that Joyce and Jim volunteer at The Hjemkomst Center at least one day a week. Joyce works in the business office, using her many computer skills, while Jim is a docent, guiding visitors through the maze of Scandinavian history. Joyce and Jim have traveled extensively, including three trips to Norway.

Jim just performed with the Touchmark Choir at the historic Fargo Theater. He practices with them every week, and they perform at area schools, other retirement communities, for a local Kiwanis Club, and for other residents. “What’s so unique about our choir,” says Jim, “is that the members range in
age from 22 to 101!”

Joyce spends a lot of time on her computer. “I have had a computer on my desk since 1976.” She learned to build databases early on, which has proved indispensable for her genealogy work, which she has been doing for over 25 years.

Joyce and Jim enjoy people and are very involved in the Touchmark community. “We love sharing stories and histories and believe everyone has a story.”