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THE GRAYING OF CENTRAL NEW YORK – AND NYS Inside: Mike Samoraj: First Lake Placid Ironman Competition at 60


Issue 82 – August-September 2019

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

All About Jazz...

... and rock ‘n’ roll, and classical music Larry Luttinger is on a mission to share his love of music and arts

free please share

CNY Woman Finds Purpose Building Library in Africa

Had a Stroke. Back on Stage.


Central New York music legend Todd Hobin knew nothing about stroke — but he does now. That’s why he’s raising awareness about stroke risk factors and its signs and symptoms.



A. S.



Fact: Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Important to know: Stroke can happen to both men and women — at any age. Good news: Stroke is preventable by managing medical risk factors and healthy lifestyle choices. What to do: Time lost is brain lost. So it’s vital to know the signs of a stroke — F.A.S.T. Four words to live by: Call 911 and say, “Take me to Crouse.“ When it comes to stroke, every moment matters. As one of just 10 hospitals in New York State tohave earned Comprehensive Stroke Center status, and with the region’s newest ER and hybrid ORs, Crouse offers the most advanced technology for rapid stroke diagnosis and treatment

Read Todd’s story and learn more: crouse.org/toddhobin.





October 1-4, 2019

December 10-13, 2019

February 18-20, 2020

March 24-26, 2020

April 28 - May 3, 2020

June 2-4, 2020


Order Online: BroadwayInSyracuse.com CALL FAMOUS ARTISTS: (315) 424-8210 August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS



THE GRAYING OF CENTRAL NEW YORK – AND NYS Inside: Mike Samoraj: First Lake Placid Ironman Competition at 60


August / September 2019


Issue 82 – August-September 2019

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

All About Jazz...

... and rock ‘n’ roll, and classical music Larry Luttinger is on a mission to share his love of music and arts



please share

CNY Woman Finds Purpose Building Library in Africa



Savvy Senior 6 12 TRENDS • NYS has more people over 65 than Gardening 8 there are children under the age of 13 Dining Out 10 14 ACCOMPLISHMENT Aging 24 • Jordan Mayor Richard Platten is the Golden Years 34 second longest serving mayor in NYS My Turn 40 18 PURPOSE Life After 55 44 • CNY woman finds purpose building library in Ghana Druger’s Zoo 46 21 CHALLENGE LAST PAGE

Maryann Roefaro, 60, shares her thoughts on writing her latest book, ‘A Human’s Purpose by Millie the Dog, with Maryann Roefaro’ 4

55 PLUS - August / September 2019


• Mike Samoraj, 60, getting ready for the 140.5 mile endurance race in Lake Placid

26 MUSIC • Tom Dooley Choraliers still in tune after all these years



28 COVER • Larry Luttinger is on a mission to share his love of music and arts

38 NEW ACT • At 63, Sam Roberts, a former member of the New York State Assembly, takes on a new challenge

42 HEALTH • Eight tips to reduce risk of polypharmacy

48 VISITS • Ten things to explore in Cayuga County, a county that stretches from Lake Ontario all the way to the Finger Lakes

To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors. Since 1974 the Loretto Foundation has helped support individuals served by the Loretto family of care. Through fundraising initiatives and a variety of giving opportunities, the Loretto Foundation provides additional funding to help enhance safe and secure facilities and deliver enriched programming for over 9,000 individuals in Central New York each year. Help us continue to support our community by giving a gift or volunteering.

Show you care by giving a gift today. • Give a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one • Give a gift to the Loretto Foundation’s Founders Endowment Fund • Give a restricted gift to any of the 19 affiliated Loretto sites and programs

• Give a gift of appreciation toward the 2,500 amazing caregivers of Loretto • Give a the gift of your time and volunteer

For more information, visit us at lorettocny.org/foundation. August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS Loretto Foundation Ad_7.25x10_FullPage-March2019.indd 1


3/7/19 11:55 AM

savvy senior By Jim Miller


How Retirees Can Find Cheap Travel Accommodations

ccommodations are typically one of the costliest travel expenses. But if you’re willing to do a little research and preplanning, there are a number of ways you can lower (or eliminate) your lodging costs and live more like a local when you travel. Here are some different options to consider and some websites that can help you locate them. B&B Clubs — If you like staying in bed and breakfasts and have a spare bedroom yourself, check out the Evergreen Club (EvergreenClub.com) and the Affordable Travel Club (AffordableTravelClub.net). These are B&B clubs for travelers over ages 50 or 40 that offer affordable lodging in the spare bedroom of other club members, or they may stay with you when they’re on the road. You pay a modest gratuity of around $20 per night, with breakfast. And the clubs charge membership fees of $65 to $75 per year. Lower Cost Rentals — There are literally millions of privately-owned properties in the United States and abroad that are offered as short-term rentals. This has become a very popular alternative to hotels for retirees. Renting a fully furnished apartment or house is usually cheaper than hotel rooms of comparable quality, and they almost always offer more space, a homier feel and a kitchen, which can save you the expense eating out every meal. Short-term rentals are offered through the individual property owners or property-management companies. Some of the best sites for finding them include Airbnb.com, HomeAway.com and FlipKey.com. These sites are free to use for travelers. Another nifty site you should check out is The Freebird Club (FreebirdClub.com) that connects 50-plus


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travelers with 50-plus hosts. Unlike Airbnb and the other previously listed lodging rental sites, Freebird users pay a $31 fee to join and to have their identities verified. They then fill out a questionnaire asking where they’d like to travel and how much interaction they’d like to have with their hosts. On the other end, hosts are not offering rental properties and a key in a drop box, but their own homes, along with conversation and companionship, for much less than the price of a hotel. House Sitting — If you have a flexible schedule and you don’t mind doing a few household chores when you travel, house sitting is another option that offers lodging for free. How it works is you live in someone else’s home while they’re away for a long weekend or even a few months. And in exchange for the free accommodations, you take care of certain responsibilities such as their pets, lawn, garden, mail, etc. To find these opportunities, try sites like Nomador.com, MindMyHouse.com, HouseCarers.com and TrustedHousesitters.com – they all charge a small membership fee. Home Swapping — Another way to get free accommodations when you travel is by swapping homes with someone who’s interested in visiting the area where you live. To make a swap, you’ll need to join an online home exchange service where you can list your home and get access to thousands of other listings. Then you simply email the owners of houses or apartments you’re interested in or they email you and you make arrangements. Most home exchange sites like HomeExchange.com, HomeLink. org and Intervac-HomeExchange. com charge membership fees ranging from $50 to $150.

55PLUS cny55.com

Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo


Deborah J. Sergeant Aaron Gifford, Mary Beth Roach Christopher Malone Richard Palmer Ken Sturtz, Carold Radin


Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, Marvin Druger Michele Reed, Sandra Scott Eva Briggs, M.D. .


Amy Gagliano Cassandra Lawson

Office Manager Nancy Nitz


Dylon Clew-Thomas

Cover Photo

Chuck Wainwright 55 PLUS –A Magazine for Active Adults in Central New York is published six times a year by Local News, Inc., which also publishes In Good Health–CNY’s Healthcare Newspaper. Published at 185 E. Seneca St. PO Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126. Subscription: $21 a year; $35 for two years © 2019 by 55 PLUS – A Magazine for Active Adults in Upstate New York.

No material may be reproduced in whole or in part from this publication without the express written permission of the publisher.

How to Reach Us P.O. Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126 Phone: 315-342-1182 Fax: 315-342-7776 Email: editor@CNY55.com Editor@cnyhealth.com

Impacting patient care, education, research, and community health and well-being through charitable giving.

That is why Dr. Frederick “Fritz” Parker and his wife Ginny have included the Upstate Foundation in their estate plans. Fritz retired from Upstate Medical University in 2001 as chair of the Department of Surgery. In his 30-year career, Fritz pioneered the cardiac surgery department, earning a reputation as the region’s preeminent cardiac surgeon.

“ We’ve been blessed. There’s no question.”

Ginny impacted the lives of countless young people through a long career in education, as co-founder and former co-director of the Kynda Montessori School.

“We want to leave a legacy that reflects our love for our community,” Ginny explained. “Our hope is that our gift will continue to strengthen Upstate and serve as an inspiration to others who are considering their own legacies.” Creating a legacy is easier than you think! Contact our planned giving professionals at 315-464-6490 or Hamiltol@upstate.edu.

To learn more about the Parkers, visit www.UpstateFoundation.org/legacy. August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


gardening By Jim Sollecito


Let Me Help You Paint Your Picture

ow, the beginning of the fall planting season is already here. My favorite time. People sometimes ask my favorite color. Fair enough, since I paint landscapes with all kinds of brush strokes. My favorite color is October. Really, it is. It’s the easiest time of year to get plants established and their full color potential is revealed in all its glory. And I’m all about easier. It’s true that I like going to countries where chickens are commonplace on buses, but that is adventure. Right now I’m talking about digging holes and that borders on work. As we age, physical work does tend to wear on our parts, if not in the short term then over the long haul. I usually feel the effects after a good day on our farm, now that I am 59.95 plus shipping and handling. Turns out, a lot of handling. I had thought growing older would take longer. I’m learning I need to balance where and how I spend my sweat equity. Pacing. Life is no longer the sprint I thought it was. As you approach the best part of your life, and the easiest time of year for landscape improvements, I’m offering a few tips on enhancing the picture you paint in your own yard. Sun-loving plants need six hours of sun to reliably flower. Any less, and you’ll get fewer or smaller flowers. Deer don’t like silver foliage. Woodchucks don’t like gold flowering plants. Maybe they have a contract with a jeweler to get these items elsewhere, but it just seems to work out that way. People often ask how I go about designing a landscape. One exciting aspect is that the plants I use have changed over the past 46 years. Fully 80% of the varieties in our garden center were not even available 10 years ago. There is indeed an organized Cornell-based method that is not just happenstance. And I still use the


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same principals. Our strategy is to draw attention to the front door, using the tactics of grouping, repetition, edge definition and dominance. Incorporating as many triangles as we can (the most stable shape in geometry) and selecting plants that match the site. As opposed to trying to change the site to accommodate the plants you might want to grow. Take crepe myrtle for instance. Please, take it far away, to the south. Where it

belongs. Everyone wants lower maintenance and the key is grouping plants in clusters that will form a “closed canopy” within two years. The closed canopy will crowd out weeds by keeping light from reaching the bark mulch. The tighter the canopy grows, the less frequently you need to re-mulch. All very sustainable. There is genuine joy in creating beauty, and everyone has a canvas ready to be painted with their own personality. If you aren’t sure where to begin, let me help you brush up your own landscape soon. Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior certified landscape professional in NYS. He operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or jim@sollecito.com.

The author’s sister, Kathy, likes to add color to her own landscape and canvas.

Social Security

Q&A Q: I am nearing my full retirement age, but I plan to keep working after I apply for Social Security benefits. Will my benefits be reduced because of my income? A.: No. If you start receiving benefits after you’ve reached your full retirement age, you can work while you receive Social Security and your current benefit will not be reduced. If you keep working, it could mean a higher benefit for you in the future. Higher benefits can be important to you later in life and increase the future benefit amounts your survivors could receive. If you begin receiving benefits before your full retirement age, your earnings could reduce your monthly benefit amount. After you reach full retirement age, we recalculate your benefit amount to leave out the months when we reduced or withheld benefits due to your excess earnings. Learn more about Social Security reading our publication, “How Work Affects Your Benefits,” at www. socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10069.html. Q: My spouse and I have been married for over 30 years and we are about to retire. Will there be any reduction in benefits because we are married? A: None at all. We calculate lifetime earnings independently to determine each spouse’s Social Security benefit amount, and couples aren’t penalized because they are married. When both spouses meet all other eligibility requirements to receive Social Security retirement benefits, each spouse receives a monthly benefit amount based on his or her own earnings. If one member of the couple earned low wages or failed to earn enough Social Security credits to be insured for retirement benefits, he or she may be eligible to receive benefits as a spouse. Learn more about earning Social Security credits by reading our publication, How You Earn Credits, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.


AUG. 7 - 28

SEPT. 4 - 21

SEPT. 28 - OCT. 13


Fallis for Planting Fallis for Planting

It’s easier in the fall.

It’s Ornamental easier in the fall. Grasses Hardy Perennials

• Colorful Flowering Shrubs Colorful Shrubs • Hardy Perennials & Grasses • Ornamental & Shade Trees

Landscaping Nursery

4094 Howlett Hill Rd • Syracuse, NY 13215 • sollecito.com

468-1142 315-468-1142

August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


DiningOut By Christopher Malone



Goat cheese-stuffed mushroom.

B.G. Buda’s Cucina Italiana

Italian restaurant, a distinctive presence in Cazenovia


he village of Cazenovia has an array of options for the foodfocused. There are a few cafes and bakeshops. A few pizza joints. A winery, cidery, and brewery — oh, my! But the only one distinctive Italian restaurant that comes to mind is B.G. Buda’s Cucina Italiana at 88 Albany St. Being a part of a strip of shops along the main stretch, the restaurant blends in very well. Normally Italian restaurants in Central New York are like rabbits — they populate like mad. Buda’s, luckily, sits cozily by itself and has for the last six years. It opened in 2013. The smaller restaurant, which is very clean, is decorated as particularly and minimally to reflect its seating. It’s


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definitely in a patron’s best interest to reserve a table rather than gamble with dropping in. The four of us were treated to complimentary bread and oil. After we polished off the first loaf, we were presented with a second for no additional charge. The bread was aromatic and hot — fresh out of the oven. Not sure why, but the saltiness of the oil really stood out for me and seemed to coagulate toward the end. It tasted fine, but the aesthetic was interesting. The garlic pizza was also salty to me. The olive oil must have been messing with my palate. Thanks for bottomless glasses of water. The garlic pizza, aglio al forno, was larger than expected; American-

sized rather than its Italian woodfire cousin. With a lovely amount of flavor, this is a garlic fan’s go-to pie. The $15 pizza was only $10; Thursday nights at Buda’s are pizza nights. Wednesday nights are pasta nights. Sundays are all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs. The body of pizza was super thin and crispy, but not burned, and the semi-bulbous crust was airy. The golden-brown bottom was surprisingly firm and consistent. No drooping whatsoever. This take on thin crust style was a first for me, and I enjoyed it; however, I don’t think I’d run back for it. As leftovers, the pizza was just as good the day after. Jumping back, the appetizer special ($13) got our attention. Three goat cheese-stuffed mushroom caps

A half order of penne vodka.

Garlic pizza, aglio al forno: larger than expected.

Two thumbs up for the cannoli.

Banana cake with strawberry ice cream.

Chicken riggies, a sure bet at B.G. Buda’s Cucina. sat on a bed of arugula and roasted red peppers. The mushrooms were cooked very well and cut very easily with knives or teeth. The cheese, which was speckled with pepper and singed, was very flavorful. With a couple leaves of arugula and a strip of roasted red — unanimous among us, its one of my Top 10 favorite appetizers. A meatball was ordered to share. One clearly hand-packed meatball ($3) was just smaller than a baseball. The homemade Italian staple decorated with parmesan cheese was a pleaser, but it was a little small for the price tag. Cue the pasta dishes! Our server, Zach, brought our half order of eggplant parmesan ($11), half order of penne vodka ($11), full chicken riggies ($17), and a full pasta special — the carne spaghetti was topped with marinara sauce and loaded with sausage, pepperoni, and chicken ($21). It was great that the option to order half portions were listed on the menu. The portion sizes were on the smaller side. Full portions weren’t bountiful in comparison to the half portions. However, it’s wonderful not feeling too full. The pasta itself wasn’t homemade, perhaps the spaghetti was, but the rest of the options, especially focusing on the sauce, was fresh. In ascending order with spiciness: eggplant, a tie between the riggies and penne, and the pasta special. Yet the spiciness wasn’t overpowering. There was a lot of flavor, and this is thanks, in part, to the sauces. All of the gravies were so delicious. I really loved the marinara with the eggplant — a deep red color, rich in flavor. The vodka

sauce was a very close second. As much as we ate, we somehow saved room for dessert. The cannoli ($6.50) featured a silky filling and tipped with chocolate, plus a cinnamon accent. The fried pastry tube was crisp and delightful. Two thumbs up. The winner was the banana cake with strawberry ice cream ($8). Described as a brownie on the bill, the banana cake was a debate. It wasn’t flourless. It had the consistency of a brownie, but looked semi-gelatinous. The homemade strawberry ice cream was delightful. When enjoying a bite of both together, the flavor was strawberry-forward and transitioned smoothly into a banana finish. The bill came to $108.54 before a well-deserved tip. For the amount of food, I’m actually surprised the bill wasn’t steeper. Aside a low-key, conversation-encouraging atmosphere, a special thanks goes to Zach, who took care of us incredibly well, never using a notepad to remember orders and his customer service was prompt and genuine.

B.G. Buda’s Address

88 Albany St., Cazenovia 13035




bgbudas.com www.facebook.com/BGBudas


Wed. – Sun.: 5-9 p.m. August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS




The Graying of Central New York – and NYS Report shows in NYS there are more people over 65 than there are children under the age of 13 By Aaron Gifford


o suggest that Syracuse and the rest of New York state is getting a bit silver around the temples is quite an understatement. Central New York is among several regions in the state that has shown a significant increase in its population of older adults in the past decade. With that surge, the number of New York state residents aged 65 and older, 3.2 million, exceeds total populations in 21 different states. In addition, this population of senior citizens statewide grew eight times faster between 2007 and 2017 than New York’s total population, according to a recent report published by the Center


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for an Urban Future. The report, which was funded by the AARP and is based on data from the U.S. Census Department’s 2007 and 2017 community surveys, also indicates that during the decade-long period the population of older adults in the city of Syracuse increased by 1,355. The combined senior population of Onondaga and Cayuga counties increased by 9,632, while the population of residents under 65 in those two counties decreased by 71,909 people. In Oswego County, the population of seniors increased by 5,597 while its population of those under 65

decreased by 8,490. And in Madison and Cortland counties, while the population of older adults increased by 6,186, so did the population of all other residents by 12,500. All told, there are more folks in New York state 65 and older than there are children under the age of 13, according to the report. For the city of Syracuse, the growth of the older adult population totaled 9% in the 10-year period. While this is a smaller jump than most other parts of New York state, the report said, it still outpaced the overall population growth of the city, which was only 2%. The report specified that the growth pertained to those between the ages of 65 and 84, while the number of Salt City residents 85 and up actually decreased by 22% during the 10-year period. In addition, the immigrant-born population of the older adults in Syracuse increased by 1% from 2007 to 2017, accounting for 10% of that demographic. Twenty-two percent of Syracuse’s older population is African-American, the fourth highest share of any city in New York state. In fact, the population

of African-Americans in Syracuse 65 and up increased by 59%, from 2,142 in 2007, to 3,398 in 2017. The number of older adults in poverty also increased by 2% in that 10-year period, from 3,084 in 2007, to 3,138 in 2017. “To meet the needs of New York state’s booming older adult population, Gov. Cuomo and the state legislature will need to make investing in older adult services a top priority statewide,” the report concluded. “With older New Yorkers driving population growth standards, the state will have to do more to support comprehensive and effective older adult services in the years ahead. At the same time, local officials in cities and counties across New York should be doing more to plan for the aging of their populations and make sure new programs and policies are in place to ensure older adults can thrive across multiple generations,” the report said. Robert O’Connor, a legislative coordinator for the AARP who lives in Fayetteville, said the report reflects a natural progression in that the baby boomers is easily the fastest-growing group in terms of population, followed by millennials, or O’Connor those between the ages of 19 and 34. T h e p o p u l a t i o n g ro w t h o f these groups — baby boomers and millennials — outpaces the two age groups in between, generation X and generation Y. While the millennials tend to be more educated and will help grow technological fields that will improve the local economy, the shrinking population of middle-aged residents means there may not be enough direct caregivers to help out the youngest and oldest residents of Central New York in the years to come. “You’re going to see it on both ends — a shortage of day care providers for the children, and not enough people to help care for the elderly,” said O’Connor, 83, adding that he and thousands of other seniors chose to remain in Central New York after retirement because of the availability of quality affordable housing and

For the city of Syracuse, the growth of the older adult population totaled 9% in the 10-year period. It still outpaced the overall population growth of the city, which was only 2%. health care. In 2014, the year that the last of the baby boomers turned 50, the AARP published a report that indicated more than 20% of workers in Onondaga County over the age of 50 worried about never being able to retire, and many of those surveyed feared that they would have to leave New York State in order to sustain employment. “But we’ve found that, since then, many people have lost their retirement plans and can’t even afford to move,” O’Connor said. He worries that age discrimination for job seekers is becoming a growing problem. He challenges employers to be open minded about flexible schedules that benefit senior citizens in the work force, and to place more value on the wisdom graybeards can offer. “There’s more to having a wellrounded work force than just looking for people who have technical knowledge,” O’Connor said. O’Connor advocates creating or expanding retirement plans that would be offered to large pools of workers, similar to how 529 college savings plans work for the huge population of parents who invest in it. He thinks the state’s Paid Family Leave Act (up to 10 weeks at 55% of pay) will help New York’s aging population, but he thinks there should also be a tax credit for caregivers who provide transportation services to senior citizens, or who purchase special equipment to transport seniors or to help them stay in their homes. Most importantly, O’Connor says, residents need to be made aware of

what agencies and services are already in place to help out older adults. “People wait until there’s a crisis,” he said, “but that’s too late.” Peter Headd, commissioner of the Onondaga County Office for the Aging, is already well aware that the population growth of senior citizens here is outpacing that of the other age groups. His agency, in cooperation with about 50 different partnering organizations, has started a needs assessment as part of a four-year plan to improve the quality of life for older adults in this area. The ultimate goal, he said, “is to keep people in their homes as long as it’s safe to be there, and as long as they want to be there.” He said access to transportation for older adults in Central New York is better than many other areas of the state, “but it’s still not good enough.” Services could be more affordable if there was more competition, which would drive the going rates down. More ride-sharing programs should be created. In addition, Headd said, local agencies need to reach out to more senior citizens who are living in isolation, and help them get together with friends more often or make new friends. Depression can lead to poor health. There is also a tremendous need to give low-income seniors access to better nutrition. And as always, elder abuse, whether physical, emotional or financial, continues to be a major problem in Central New York, Headd said. He would like to see more affordable housing for Onondaga County residents over the age of 65. Mixed-use apartment building located near medical offices, pharmacies, stores and eateries would be ideal. Headd said the Office for the Aging has provided services to about 13,000 of the country’s 90,000 residents who are over 65. The agency won’t be satisfied until it helps out everyone in that category, but in doing so the level of funding needs to increase as the population it serves continues to expand. “In general, more and more seniors are living longer and longer. Their needs get more and more complex,” Headd said. “This is going to get much more serious before it gets resolved. This is not a short-term situation.” August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS




Jordan Mayor

40 Years on the Job Mayor Richard Platten is the second-longest serving mayor in New York state, losing only to Lake George’s mayor, who has been on the job for nearly five decades By Richard Palmer


hen I entered the Jordan village office recently to interview Mayor Richard Platten, he greeted me with an unexpected statement, “So you want to write about all the damage I’ve done in the past 40 years!” Forty years — that’s how long he’s been mayor of this village in northwestern corner of Onondaga County, home to 1,300 people. During that time Jordan has seen many improvements without significantly raising taxes to pay for them. Platten has a knack of tapping various grant programs. He works well with governmental agencies to tap their resources. A t 7 9 h e h a s re m a i n e d a s enthusiastic about his leadership role as the day he started at his desk at the village hall. He said he initially thought being mayor was strictly volunteer. He asked at the time, “You mean, we actually are paid for doing this?” Receiving a $4,000 annual salary without raise in decades, Platten certainly isn’t in it for the money. “We’re a full-service community,” Platten said. “My door is always open.”


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Jordan Mayor Richard Platten stands by one of his favorite paintings depicting boys fishing in Skaneateles Outlet. Although he officially spends about 20 hours a week on the job, he’s usually out and about much longer than that. For him there’s never a dull moment in the community, he said. “Dick Platten has a real passion for his community and has made it his life’s commitment. He is a dedicated public servant,” said life-long resident Kenneth Bush, whose family has operated a funeral home there for several generations. “ But even with his long record of service he’s not the longest serving mayor in New York state. That record is held by Robert Blais of Lake George who beats Platten by eight years. At 83, Blais has been mayor of that village since 1971. Lake George’s population in 2017 was 3,426. Since Platten, a retired school teacher, became Jordan mayor, virtually

every street has been reconstructed, along with new cement sidewalks, the village’s own sewage treatment plant and other improvements. Some $4 million has been spent on infrastructure, largely through grant money, though it’s been an uphill struggle with the loss of sales tax revenues and shrinking state and federal aid. Still Platten keeps a positive attitude. He takes pride in the fact that it is now possible to walk downtown to do business, go to the library, local businesses or stop in at the village hall without having to drive or walk in the streets. This has also reduced traffic congestion as street parking is limited, he said. Jordan is one of the few municipalities where residents do not have to shovel their sidewalks. Village

DPW workers do that. The village not only builds, but maintains its own sidewalks. There is also an organized effort to bring new business to the village. Recently a new Family Dollar store opened here in the building formerly occupied by a Tops Friendly supermarket. Efforts are being made to re-establish a grocery store here so residents don’t have to travel elsewhere. Luring grocery chains to open stores in small communities is difficult, Platten said, because they apparently don’t generate enough business to sustain themselves. “But we’re working on it,” he said. “We also have an extensive recycling program to conserve our natural resources.” The mayor also said he wants to establish a “solar field” to reduce electricity costs. A recent improvement was a new sidewalk on Elbridge Street into the village from the Lock Tender’s Drive residential development to allow residents living in that area to walk downtown without having to walk on the busy highway. This $100,000 project was made possible through a grant secured by former State Sen. John DeFrancisco. It also included laying a drainage pipe from the top of the hill down into the village, covering it up and laying a sidewalk on it. Another project was to eliminate a dangerous embankment on Clinton Street. Platten said he is proud of the fact that unlike many other small local communities Jordan still has a considerable number of industries, which employ local workers. This includes International Wire Group, which is the largest bare copper wire and copper wire products manufacturer in the U.S.; Bennett Bolt Works; Hawker Construction; and P&M Fabrication. Aside from the popular longrunning Jordan Fall Festival, which annually draws thousands of people from throughout Central New York, Jordan’s biggest drawing card is being on the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor. Thousands of bikers and hikers take advantage of the trail established years ago on the old towpath. Jordan has been a “canal town” ever since the Erie Canal was opened through here in 1820.

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August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


Mayor Platten goes over some paper work with Village Clerk Cynthia Meixner.

“I’ve done the best I could” A native of Seneca Falls, Platten and his family have resided in Jordan since 1965 when he took a position as a math teacher at Jordan-Elbridge High School. He retired in 1999 and has four adult children. “I loved every minute of it,” he recalled as he talked about his years as teacher. “The kids here are really great.” He was first elected mayor in 1979 after being appointed interim mayor in 1978. He previously served on the village board of trustees. One of the changes effected during his administration was to extend the terms of village officers from two to four years. He is active in community affairs, serving on the Jordan Pool Committee, Jordan Chamber of Commerce and Jordan Fall Festival. He said he continues to enjoy his role as mayor and endeavors to respond to the needs of the community. Every village board meeting centers on a variety of things that need attention, from streamlining the village codes to addressing citizen complaints. “We plan to continue the policy of Jordan being a full-service community,” Platten said. “We are centrally located, and it’s a great place to live.” Asked about his many years in office, Platten said “I’ve done the best I could for the community.” But when his constituents are unhappy “they let me know.” Complaints are few and far between, he said. Since the village sewer plant is only running at 65 percent capacity and there’s slow residential growth, discussions are on-going for tapping in 16

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a new sewer line from the neighboring town of Brutus in Cayuga County. Jordan is also dealing with the fact it is at the “tail end” of the Skaneateles Lake water district, and there are issues regarding this that need to be resolved,

Platten said. In the early 20th century there were numerous gas wells on the north side of the village. “I want to explore the possibility of re-developing them,” Platten said. Making it possible for seniors to continue living in Jordan came when a 96-unit complex called Old Erie Apartments was constructed on North Beaver street. “We’re very proud of this development,” Platten said. The secret to his success? “Being willing to make a commitment is the key to getting things done,” Platten said. Platten’s hobbies [“when I have time”] include gardening, riding his motorcycle and woodworking.

Mayor Platten with Patrolman Mike Grajko inspect a recently-installed charger for electric cars next to Jordan village hall.

Erik Osborne sits in the library of his home.

Hailing from a long line of entrepreneurs, activists and social reformers, I have worked tirelessly to not only honor, but grow the legacies of the family members who came before me. My family has strong ties to the Auburn community and helping to build one another up is a common thread running through our history.

Family Giving: Erik Osborne

It was imperative for me to find a permanent home for my family’s foundation to carry on a positive impact on Cayuga County even after I am gone. I partnered with the Community Foundation to transfer our private foundation into a donor-advised fund to solidify and streamline our support. The Community Foundation’s permanent stewardship and prudent investment management aimed at long-term growth will ensure that my family’s charitable legacy is carried on for the benefit of future generations.

Read more of Erik’s story at Osborne.5forCNY.org

315.422.9538 | C N YC F. O R G

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African Odyssey CNY woman finds purpose building library in Ghana 18

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Dawn La Flamm reading books to kids in a remote area in the African country of Ghana. By Ken Sturtz


ver 38 years of marriage, Dawn La Flamm and her husband talked about their plans for later in life without giving much thought to what would happen if their golden years were cut short. So, when her husband succumbed to pancreatic cancer in a matter of months, La Flamm was lost. Outgoing by nature, she withdrew. For a few years she went through the motions — going to church, shopping and running errands — without feeling like she was living, she says. Her family grew worried. One day she reached the realization that she’d been lucky in life. “I’d never really wanted for anything,” La Flamm says. “So, I decided I wanted to know what it was like to be poor.” She researched poor countries

Rose Villa Library built in Ghana thanks to the efforts of local resident Dawn La Flamm. On the right are several kids who enjoy the library. where English is spoken and settled on visiting Ghana, on the western coast of Africa, alone. Her sons were very concerned, she says, and all but one of her friends tried to talk her out of going. But her mind was made up and in 2011 she bought a plane ticket and flew to Ghana. In Africa, she received a crash course in the culture and the idea of poverty as a way of life. She visited ancient castles used in the slave trade and toured several schools. A oneroom schoolhouse in an especially remote area had a single teacher and no textbooks for 12 students, La Flamm says. The teacher taught lessons using chalk. The three-week trip gave her the kind of behind-the-scenes view of Ghana she was sure she wouldn’t have gotten with a church or tourist group. She knew she needed to go back. “I decided I wanted to do something for poverty only I didn’t know what,” she says. “I had to do a lot of soul searching because many people said to me ‘We have people in need right here.’” That was certainly true, La Flamm says, but the social safety nets in the United States are far better. And she reasoned that Americans have so much that if she could simply share some of the excess to help a child, it would be worth the effort. But how could she make a difference? La Flamm wondered. On her first trip she’d been struck by the fact that the schools she visited

had no libraries to speak of. The only books she saw were textbooks and reference books. La Flamm considered bringing some used books next time to read to children. Her 8-year-old granddaughter offered her books she’d already read. On another trip La Flamm decided to test the waters at a pizza shop. She sat outside reading and several children, who recognized her from visits to their school, walked up and sat down to listen to her read. Each afternoon children sat down and listened to La Flamm read a couple books. It occurred to La Flamm that the children hadn’t been exposed to the classic children’s literature that is ubiquitous in American childhood. These were children who hadn’t heard nursery rhymes. They’d never puzzled over whodunits with Encyclopedia Brown or the Hardy Boys. Even “Green Eggs and Ham” and “The Cat in the Hat” were out of reach. By the time she left for home, about 20 children were gathering each day to listen to her read and she decided there was a need she could meet. “I knew that was where I was supposed to be,” La Flamm says. “I can’t explain it.” With the help of a man she befriended in Ghana, La Flamm set to work. In 2012, they secured a piece of land in a rural area near a village and had a well dug. The next year they broke ground on the building. The result was a 2,300-square-foot house August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


with electricity and running water. Rose Villa Library opened in 2014. The house was split between the library and living space for a caretaker and for La Flamm when she visited. Even before it was finished, children began visiting. But initially the library was short on one crucial item: books. La Flamm had begun accepting used books for the library. Donations flooded her two-bedroom apartment in the village of Mexico. Books soon packed her spare bedroom so tightly she could barely open the door. But how could she get them to Ghana?

She looked into mailing them and discovered it would cost a small fortune. And in the first couple years, only two of 24 boxes of books she mailed reached their destination without being opened or damaged. So, each time she flew to Ghana, La Flamm packed 50 pounds of used books into each of her two suitcases. She says she managed to tote about a thousand books to Ghana that way. With help, she eventually found a way to ship dozens of boxes of books and school supplies. After opening the library, La

Flamm visited the local schools, introducing herself to the headmasters, bringing along free calendars and telling them about the library. The number of children visiting the library grew, but there was a problem. “So, I have done this on my own, however after I got this built, made about eight or nine trips to Ghana, I ran out of money,” La Flamm says. She estimates she spent about $100,000 on the building and other expenses. She was paying a caretaker to maintain the property and open the library six days a week. Now, after all the work, La Flamm didn’t know if she’d have enough to pay the help. It wasn’t until a close friend scolded La Flamm for not letting anyone help her that she finally came around to the idea of accepting help. She began taking donations. With more support, the library began a bookmobile, delivering loads of books on loan to local schools. La Flamm knew supplying books and school supplies was helping. But she says she got hard proof when the number of children passing the English comprehension test in the local school soared 70 percent the year after getting access to the bookmobile. Children still come every day to the library, which La Flamm says now boasts around 12,500 books; about 95 percent are used. The whole operation is more sustainable now, La Flamm says. For example, the caretaker keeps a garden on the property and raises chickens. La Flamm, now 71, doesn’t know how long she can continue to make the 11-hour flight to Ghana, but says she plans to keep going as long as she’s able. She returned from an extended visit earlier this year. As for her odyssey — from feeling lost after losing her husband to finding purpose in Ghana and fighting to keep the library open — La Flamm says she doesn’t regret the journey. “It’s been so exciting.”

To donate to Rose Villa Library During a visit to Africa, Dawn La Flamm received a crash course in the culture and the idea of poverty as a way of life. She decided to help the way she could. She raised enough money to build a library in a remote part of Ghana. She is shown with kids who frequently visit the library, Rose Villa Library. 20

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challenge Mike Samoraj running on the streets of Baldwinsville as he prepares for the Lake Placide Ironman. By Carold Radin


His First Ironman Competition — at 60 Mike Samoraj getting ready for the 140.5 mile endurance race in Lake Placid — 2.4 miles of bicycling, 112 miles of swimming in open water, and a 26.2-mile marathon run

hile chalking up triathlons 15 years ago, Mike Samoraj told himself, “Someday I’m going to do the Ironman.” Two years ago, he realized the time was now. In the past several months he increased the amount of time training for the Lake Placid Ironman, scheduled for July 28. At the age of 60, Samoraj is living what he likes to tell others who hesitate to challenge their senior bodies, “You’re as good as you’re going to be.” The Ironman is the ultimate triathlon, a 140.6-mile endurance race made up of three events in sequence — 2.4 miles of bicycling, 112 miles of swimming in open water, and a 26.2mile marathon run. Due to its hilly course in the Adirondack Mountains, the Lake Placid Ironman is considered one of the hardest, said Toby Heath, Samoraj’s coach. So arduous is the event that 40 finishers can claim qualifying slots for the world-renowned Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. In Lake Placid, about 2,500 athletes — including Samoraj — were expected to take to the hills and the beautiful waters of Mirror Lake. Samoraj has been running all his life. He swims at the Baldwinsville YMCA and has done his share of bicycling. Yet now that he was preparing for 140.2 miles of all of it together, he muses, “I didn’t realize what it would be like. Multiply an hour or two by eight hours, by 10 hours, by….” His voice drifts off, probably because he’d rather not think about it and just do it. Samoraj’s long bike rides, training runs and swim workouts give a whole new definition to the word “long.” A few days before this interview, he biked 100 miles. At the Baldwinsville YMCA, he was planning to swim 100 to 160 laps in one go-round. August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


(160 laps equal 2 miles.) On Father’s Day, he celebrated his fatherhood by completing his own personal threequarter Ironman: a 2-mile swim, 84mile bike ride and 17-mile run. Surprisingly, given the challenge that faces him on July 28, Samoraj did not train every day. After that Father’s Day trial, for instance, he rested for two days. As his coach Heath says, “Rest is important because your body breaks down under physical strain,” adding that athletes in extreme sports need time to restore themselves. As comrades in running, Samoraj and Heath have known each other for years. When Samoraj first decided he would aim for the Ironman, he had not thought of having a coach, but realized that preparing for an athletic commitment of this scope required a more serious and professional dimension. For that, he needed Heath, who himself has done five Ironman events. Prescriptive workouts, including weight training; distance guidelines; rest periods; fueling — “like, what do I do when I get hungry?”— are areas of Heath’s expertise that Samoraj was not tuned into before. And, although there are days when Samoraj says, “I feel like I’m 30 years old,“ Heath knows that physical strain is greater and recovery time takes longer for athletes as they age. So Heath can flash the red light for Samoraj to slow down when Samoraj might not want to. Samoraj’s diet has changed, too. He’s scaled back on sugar and carbohydrates and eats more protein and plant-based foods. Intense physical activity of all kinds is a family affair for the Samorajs. Samoraj’s wife, Michelle, is a marathon runner, and among his four children who range in age from 15 to 31, a son and a daughter have run multiple marathons. His 15-year-old son plays football. One of the family’s goals is to climb the 46 peaks of the Adirondacks. During vacations, which should be relaxing, it is not unusual for the family to organize an informal “Olympics.” Samoraj gets a laugh out of friends whom they hosted once at their Adirondacks camp, who subsequently had a T-shirt printed with the exclamation, “I survived the Samoraj “Snap Your Ankle Like a Cold Carrot” Tour.” That said, Samoraj’s life is not just about his own athleticism and Ironman 22

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Mike Samoraj’s 60th birthday T-shirt announces, “I’m Only Sixty Miles Young”— words that capture the spirit with which Samoraj pursues his training, his community wellness efforts, and his sheer enjoyment of everyday life. As Samoraj sees it, life gets better for everybody when it’s measured in “miles young.” training, as demanding as that may be. After 36 years in the financial services sector, he is now co-owner of Willow Health and Wellness Center with his wife. Willow Health and Wellness has centers in Baldwinsville and in Camillus, and offers fitness classes in adult and children’s yoga, tai chi, palates and more. Wellness s e r v i c e s i n c l u d e a c u p u n c t u re , chiropractic, medical weight loss, nutritional counseling, qiqong, reiki, and therapeutic massage. As devoted runners, Samoraj and Michelle also offer a series of Willow Runs. “Attention Half Crazy Runners!” is the way the Willow Health and Wellness Center website recruits participants for their half marathons scattered throughout Central and Northern New York. They also offer

5K’s and 1-mile family fun runs with catchy titles like the Cannonball 5K and 1-mile run in Auburn; the Shortcake at Abbott Farms’ strawberry season in Baldwinsville; the Harvest Challenge at Emmi Farms in Baldwinsville, and, to add some zany exercise to the Christmas season, the “Ugly Sweater 5K’s!” Samoraj now even holds an informal weekly running event at the Baldwinsville Farmers’ Market — because, oh yes, the Farmers’ Market in Baldwinsville is another thing that Samoraj does. He and Michelle are the organizers of the market, held from 3 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday of the season behind the B’ville Diner, in a setting of colorful canopies and wafting aromas of popcorn and pizza. “The market forces me to sit still!”

Samoraj says, although, as observed on a recent market evening, he really sat still only long enough for a portrait of him and Michelle, drafted in broad bold strokes by a market artist. After that, he circulated among the families clustered among the concessions or handed out flyers and magazines at the wellness table — or spread the word about the informal run to start at 5:30, while all the time marveling at scenes which the average person might consider commonplace. “Look at these guys and their pizza!” he cheers, beaming at a circle of youngsters on the ground grabbing their gooey slices from the pizza box. “How about some lemonade?” he asks, as if lemonade is a treasure. For the moment, Samoraj is like a master of ceremonies, and the market is the greatest show on earth. Whether it is the Farmer’s Market, the Willow Health and Wellness Center, the Ironman, or just a run around the neighborhood on market nights, Samoraj finds a way to get the community involved. Engaging people in wellness and enjoyment is an important value for him. He is

Mike Samoraj (center) with his wife, Michelle, a marathon runner, and his training coach, Toby Heath. proud that some of the people who now participate in the fun runs at the Farmers’ Market haven’t run in years and now get out and exercise. And age? The Montezuma half-marathon that Willow organized this summer

had 10 registered runners over the age of 70. “It’s never too late to go after an aggressive goal,” Samoraj says. “Setting lofty goals is not only good for the body but great for the mind.”

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aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky


Taking Control of the Last Stage of Our Lives

he older I get, the more my friends and I talk about preparing for “the next stage of life.” In the back of our minds, we’re really thinking “the last stage.” As we’re living longer and there are more stages, and therefore more decisions to make, we are preparing as much as we can to be in control of our futures. But because the “last stage” can happen at any time, at any age, and potentially at a time when we might not be in a physical and mental position to make decisions for ourselves, we want to be sure when “it” happens, that our wishes are known. I know many of us don’t want to think about sickness and death and just say “whatever happens, happens, I’ll worry about it then.” But if we’re not in a position to make decisions and others will have to do it for us, then it’s really not fair to those family members or friends, who will be asked to make decisions on our behalf, to guess what we would want done and then have to live with the guilt of not knowing if they made the right decisions — the ones we would have wanted them to make. Physician Gregory Eastwood, former SUNY Upstate president, wrote a wonderful book, profiled recently in In Good Health, titled “Finishing Our Story: Preparing for the End of Life.” In an interesting and informative way, ,he lays out the rationale for advance planning using examples of situations where there has not been planning so we can imagine ourselves and our loved ones in those all-too-common situations. Eastwood gives the steps needed, from getting the right forms, choosing a health care proxy, filling out a living will, and even legally choosing to die when there is no hope left (in those states and countries that permit it, when further living seems futile). I spoke with two people who have


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strong opinions about this stage of life.

Take 1 n From Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., professor emerita of child development at Syracuse University. She is an internationally known expert in her field and the author of two dozen books and more than 600 articles. “There are three people who have shaped the way I want to end my days. One was Rabbi David Wolpe who wrote that ‘we need to die in a way to be the best role model to our children so they will not be afraid to die — with acceptance and dignity.’  “Second was my wonderful French friend, Pasha, who went through a terrifying time when the Nazis invaded

Paris. Pasha managed to escape with a baby in arms, and she survived the Holocaust. Years later, having lost a child to post-war troubles, Pasha lived on with grace; and I was able to bring her twice to visit America. A decade ago, in Paris, where I felt privileged to visit her every few years, she said peacefully and eloquently in French as I was leaving to return to Syracuse, ‘very shortly, Alice, the great circle of life will be closed,’ and I knew she meant her end was near. “Third was my mother-in-law Molly Honig, who was four-and-a-half feet tall and a woman with a merry disposition. She developed leukemia and I went to NYC to visit her in the hospital. When her crusted-over eyes had been carefully cleared so that she could open them, a young intern was Alice Sterling Honig, Ph.D., professor emerita of child development at Syracuse University.

leaning over her. ‘What do you see?,’ he asked? ‘I see a handsome young doctor,’ she replied. Molly died a few days later. Her positive view of life and her grace as she neared death, remain a deeply precious example for me. “I am afraid of sickness and pain and I really don’t want to think about it, but nevertheless you have to plan ahead. And not just for your own peace of mind. If you love the child who is going to be making those decisions in the event you can’t, then make the tough decisions now, so they don’t have to agonize over what you’d want done. I have my MOLST form [medical orders for life-sustaining treatment] on the refrigerator that a doctor and two nurses had to sign; it is big and pink and the EMTs run to the kitchen to look for it.” Both these women’s perspectives have helped me move forward on making those decisions for myself. To people who say “I don’t want to think about dying,” the way to look at these preparations is that once you’ve made your decisions in a living will, or in discussion with your health care proxy, children or friends, and/or in a MOLST form, or best of all, all three,

now you can go back to focusing on living a full life without worrying about what will happen in the event of.…

Take 2 n From Mary Ann Zeppetello, a psychotherapist now in private practice, and a well-known community activist. “I would like to have the same behavior about my end as my mother. She is my heroine in taking control of the last stage of life, which is facing death while still enjoying life. “She was an uneducated but intelligent woman who always wanted to be in control of her life and had the foresight to have everything planned. So, in essence, she was also in control of her death. After her first heart attack in her 50s, the coffin was bought, the clothes were in tissue paper, she designed the flowers for the casket, and she pre-paid for everything, including the plot. Periodically she would go to the funeral home to see if she still liked the lining of the coffin. I used to joke with her and say ‘get in the coffin and I will take a picture to

help you decide.’ With this advance planning, she made it possible for her kids to fully grieve without being distracted by details of planning a funeral. I wish to do for my children the same as my mother did for me. I owe them that gift. “Like my mother, I have had conversations with my children and my one grandson to let them know my wishes: that I don’t want to linger if quality of life is compromised. I have a MOLST form and I check with my doctor each time I visit to be sure it is up-to-date in my file. The form is on my fridge and is hard to miss. “I have been a long-time member of Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization that works to improve patient rights and individual choice at the end of life, including access to medical aid in dying. If diagnosed with a terminal illness or one that requires using extraordinary means of keeping me alive, I’d refuse. Instead, I would opt for comfort care to spend the last days of my life while I am in sound mind and able to enjoy whatever is available to me with my family.”

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Tom Dooley Choraliers Still In Tune, After All These Years


By Mary Beth Roach

ressed in their iconic green jackets, white shirts and orange ties — the colors of the flag of Ireland — the members of the Dr. Tom Dooley Choraliers will take the stage once again at Clinton Square in downtown Syracuse on Saturday morning, Sept. 7, as part of the Mass that is celebrated during the Syracuse Irish Festival. Both the Mass, and the Choraliers’ participation in it, has been a timehonored tradition. While the Choraliers have not performed at every festival, which marks its 25th anniversary this year, they have been in most of them. That they have played a role in the Irish Festival is certainly fitting. The group was formed in 1962 as a means to promote Irish culture and song, according to Bill Dougherty, who’s been a member for about 10 years. Audiences perhaps are more accustomed to seeing the Choraliers at the St. Patrick’s Parade and its Mass in March, or on TV ads for Dunk & Bright Furniture that air during that same month. But they are popular year-round, with a repertoire that includes both 26

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Irish and Americana songs. Last year, for example, they had about 40 performances, including those at nursing homes, senior care facilities, weddings, funerals, and hooleys, which is an Irish party with music. And they’ve even taken the national and international stages, having performed during the Reagan years at yhe White House and in Canada for Pope John Paul II. Under the direction of Lisa Ellis, the men’s choral group numbers about 25. The members range in age from their 30s to 90, with most of them in the 55-plus age bracket. Jack Mulholland, who turned 90 in June, cited that friendship and his ability to continue singing as reasons why he’s been with the Choraliers since the beginning. Raised in Syracuse’s Tipperary Hill, he was a member of St. Patrick’s choir and had been an altar boy there. He was able to continue his love of music when he joined the Choraliers. “They say that music is praying, and I need all the prayers I can get,” he said, with a smile. Members say it’s their love of singing and the camaraderie within

the group that has kept it going to more than half a century. Listening to the guys in the group for any length of time, it’s evident, too, that that camaraderie is infused with a lot of wit and self-deprecating humor. Even though the choral group promotes the Irish culture, its members represent a variety of nationalities. For example, there are members of Polish, African-American and Italian descent. Ironically, its founder and long-time music director, Mike Pinkasewicz, who led the group for more than 40 years, was Ukrainian-American. The group is named for Dr. Tom Dooley, an American doctor who spent years in Southeast Asia and died in 1961, one day after his 34th birthday, of melanoma. He was popular in the United States in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, was celebrated for his humanitarian efforts, and thenPresident John F. Kennedy honored him posthumously with a Medal of Freedom. It was in recognition of his good deeds that the group decided to take on his name, Dougherty said. The Choraliers have released two CDs. Those interested in obtaining them can message the group through its Facebook page. The group invites any man of any nationality who enjoys music, comradeship and singing to join the Choraliers. They rehearse from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday at the Camillus Town Hall. Anyone interested can reach out to Dan Doherty via email -- dldoherty71@ gmail.com.

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It’s All About Jazz… …and Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Classical Music Larry Luttinger is on a mission to share his love of music and arts By Aaron Gifford


n stage, Larry Luttinger performs his music smooth and eloquent, as if he doesn’t have a care in the world. But behind the scenes, say friends and co-workers, his work is a combination of finesse and tireless dedication, and it’s easy to see he’s always thinking ahead. He is the drummer others march to.

“He’s a seven-day-a-week grinder,” says Ryan Drake, a former student of Luttinger who now works for him. “He has a work hard, perform hard attitude.” The 67-year-old musician recently embarked upon some major educational initiatives for the organization he established and still runs, CNY Jazz Arts Foundation Inc. He took some time recently to discuss 28

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his Central New York upbringing, the growth of his organization and its future. His parents came from Syracuse’s German-American Catholic neighborhood. But like so many north siders during that era, the Luttingers moved to the suburbs and raised the children as “Liverpoolians,” he said. Family gatherings were always musical. Every Friday night, an uncle

played the piano while everyone else sang along. World War II-era numbers were especially popular with the family. Luttinger fondly remembers his grandmother telling him how she gave piano lessons for 10 cents during the Great Depression. “I was heavily immersed in it,” he said. “It was in integral part of our lives.” Luttinger took his first drum

Sarah Stickley Wiles by the Judge Ben Wiles boat on Skaneateles May 9. Larry Luttinger at CNYLake Jazz on Central in Syracuse June 13. Photo by by Chuck Chuck Wainwright. Wainwright. Photo August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


lesson at age 6. Back then, pupils were given two sticks and a wooden drum pad covered with a rubber pad. Although Luttinger would have preferred something much louder, he loved the way the sticks felt in his hand when they bounced on the pad. At 9, he started playing snare drum in a local bagpipe band, and soon began competing internationally. He traveled around the state of New York, New England and Canada with adults for competitions, and he loved it. In junior high school, he delivered newspapers for two years and saved up enough to buy his first Pearl drum set. At 15 he jammed with several local garage bands, playing the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who and other British Invasion bands that were adored by teen-agers at the time. To this day, Luttinger’s favorite rock n’ roll drummers of all time are from England — Ginger Baker from Cream, and Mitch Mitchell from Jimi Hendrix’s band. “Rock music is an outgrowth of R and B [rhythm and blues], and I just feel like some of the British drummers reflect that more in their playing style,” he said. Luttinger and his brother Jim competed on Liverpool’s first high school gymnastics team, which was established by their father, Bill Luttinger. But as much as Luttinger liked to compete, by the time he was looking at colleges, sports had to take a back seat to music and academics. With dozens of paid gigs under his belt as a teenaged musician, Luttinger had socked enough money away to further his education. He originally gravitated toward science, completing two semesters at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, but his love of music led him to transfer to University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music his sophomore year. He immediately hooked up with backup bands that were involved in the first wave of the rock ‘n’ roll revival craze. One of those groups, “The Stomping Suede Greasers” was fairly successful and played gigs with the likes of the Angels, Del Shannon and Chuck Berry. “Chuck Berry will always be the king of rock ‘n’ roll,” Luttinger said. “With him, everything was always about the audience.” The Stomping Suede Greasers consisted of Central New York 30

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Playing the drums with CNY Jazz Central. residents, including Todd Hobin, a well-known Central New York musician who has played in several local bands and still performs with the Todd Hobin band. They enjoyed a strong following and were in discussions about record contracts but, largely because of the economic recession at the time, things did not work out. “We did almost everything right,” Luttinger recalled. “We almost made it.” So, in 1974, the percussionist returned from the road back to Syracuse and entered the classroom again. This time, he rediscovered classical music, earning a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in music performance from Syracuse University. He also hooked up with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra (now Symphoria), which he has remained involved with to this day. “He is one of the few people in Syracuse who can both play classical music as well as jazz and rock ‘n’ roll,”

said Ernest Muzquiz (pronounced moos-keys),” Luttinger’s percussion instructor at Syracuse University. “He came into his audition [at SU] dressed in a black suit. He was the only one who ever did that. I was impressed. I would hesitate to say I taught him anything. He was pretty experienced, and already a well-respected musician at the time. He was more of a colleague than a student — he just needed the degree.” Luttinger continued on to serve as the chairman of Syracuse University’s music industry department, and he also directed the university’s jazz ensemble. With decades of rock ‘n’ roll and classical music performances under his belt, Luttinger immersed himself in the local jazz scene in 1996, establishing a nonprofit jazz foundation and orchestra. During its first season, the group played three events. Under Luttinger’s direction, the organization evolved into CNY Jazz Arts Foundation Inc., and expanded

One of Larry Luttinger’s efforts now is to bring instrumental music education to urban youth in low-income neighborhoods significantly, currently playing more than 300 events per year with an annual combined audience of over 50,000 people. It also serves scholastic groups, offering programs for both vocal and instrument jazz musicians, and functions as an incubator for youth musical groups. Not counting his performance time, Luttinger is typically in his Syracuse office from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. There are plenty of weeks where Luttinger performs three hours a night Thursday through Sunday. “It can get hot and heavy,” he said. “There are weeks that can go over 80 hours. It can be a tough profession, and you’ve got to take days off once in a while to avoid burn out. The arts are as challenging of a business as any other. We deal with so many different personalities and market forces, but the unique challenge for us is we provide a product that costs us twice as much as it sells for on the open market.” Luttinger has visited many places during his tenure as a touring musician, and he’s convinced that Central New York is the best place in the United States, if not the world, for music education. He calls the region a “hot spot” with a very robust curriculum. There is still a strong need, however, to teach young people how to improvise musically, which is a crucial skill in jazz. To address that challenge, Luttinger established summer jazz workshops. Each year, the program has run at full capacity with 60 students. Many, if not most of the local high schoolers who make the All-Central New York Jazz Ensemble are graduates of Luttinger’ s summer program. Still, Luttinger explained, developing a life-long love of jazz music has been a difficult task. Plenty of kids participate in high school bands in high school, but few continue to support their local arts as adults.

Luttinger in front of CNY Jazz Central on East Washington Street in Syracuse. Below: announcing at NE Jazz & Wine Fest 2006.

“This is a new generation of cultural consumers, and we really don’t know why this disconnect exists,” Luttinger said. “Kids are not buying tickets or attending events.” Another way to attack that problem is for school to invite more professional musicians into their facilities for

performances, assemblies or clinics. Luttinger says he can remember every professional musician who ever played in his school when he was growing up, and those events definitely inspired his love of music. Looking ahead, CNY Jazz has established a five-year plan to extend August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


Fishing on Lake Ontario, Vegan Diet, Retirement

Larry Luttinger with his family: from left are sons Jake and Max, and his wife, Margaret. Photo provided. instrumental music education to urban youth in low-income neighborhoods. As part of that plan, a jazz education center is being targeted for a potential ground breaking next year. Luttinger has already started the grant-writing process. His agency is forging partnerships with various human service agencies, including the North Side Learning Center and the Spanish Action League of Onondaga County. “Our goal is to create equal access to arts and culture for the disadvantaged,” he said. “My motivation comes from my days with the old metro school for the arts. We used to have an open door based on ability to pay. We want to restore this and bring those opportunities back to Syracuse’s underserved urban youth.” Ryan Drake, the organization’s director of marketing and development, said Luttinger has maintained the same charisma and level of engagement that he showed when Drake took his first trumpet lesson from Luttinger 17 years ago. “With the students then, or anyone he is working with now — it does not matter what level they were at,” said Drake, who enjoyed a career as 32

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a performer in New York City before returning home to Syracuse. “He just wanted you to be part of the program. His idea was, ‘let’s just get you through the door.’ He gave me great advice: Be flexible in your career, and don’t just think about always being a performer. Be smart about the business and be knowledgeable about all parts of the industry.” Luttinger noted that he rarely gets a chance to go out to watch live performances for his own enjoyment. Once in a while, he and his wife, Margaret, will go out for dinner and try to catch a concert somewhere in the local area, but it does not happen as often as they would like. Luttinger and Margaret, who is employed as a corporate counselor, have a cottage on Lake Ontario that they enjoy during the summer months. They have two grown sons, Max and Jake. Jake lives in the Albany area and is employed as a teacher. Max has remained in the Syracuse area and works in real estate. Both boys played instruments in high school and still consider music a big part of their lives. While there is a special place in Luttinger’s heart for jazz, classical and

When he is not performing, listening or planning all things musical, Larry Luttinger enjoys spending time on Lake Ontario, reading, fishing, golfing and bird watching. He says his profession is not conducive to exercise regimens, but he does try to take long walks as often as he can. Luttinger has maintained a vegan diet for seven years now. At first, it was a difficult lifestyle change for someone who grew up on the German-American staple of meat and potatoes. But with a little creativity and spice, he grew accustomed to the healthier foods quickly and immediately noticed a difference in his metabolism and energy levels. “No dairy and no meat,” he said. “It can be difficult at a lot of restaurants, because there is cheese on so many things. But I guess I am a ‘Bill Clinton vegan’ — I’ll have a piece of salmon once or twice a month!” Luttinger remains focused on his organization’s five-year plan, and is already thinking about longer-term goals. Retirement is not on his radar right now. But someone who has made it a mission to share a love of music and arts to as many people as humanly possible can never really retire. “There should be no barriers to enjoying the arts,” he said. “If we find there are any barriers, then they must be brought down.” rock ‘n’ roll, he maintains that there is no genre of music that he does not like. But every genre, he says, has had its share of flops. “There are no barriers in musical enjoyment,” he said, “but there is honest music and dishonest music. If it’s produced professionally, I love it. If it’s over-produced, I don’t love it.” Luttinger applauds MTV for creating an audio-visual art form for pop and rock music, but he does not like the direction pop music has taken in more recent years. “It used to be welcoming to new ideas and new artists,” he said, “but today it has become a corporate culture.”

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ecently, the parents of a Chinese student paid a college counselor $6.5 million to get their child a spot at Stanford University. Meanwhile, a Harvard dean addressing his students during a commencement speech warned his listeners to “junk the myth of the selfmade person.” Apparently, there are many who think that just attending a prominent college or university will insure success. Without a doubt, higher education is desirable to enhance a qualified student’s chance to succeed. But in many cases, it will not guarantee success and in other circumstances, the

student or their parents simply cannot afford going into debt for years to pay the high cost of a college education. Beyond this, there is another factor that is being overlooked. Today, America’s economy is booming and unemployment is at an all-time low as available jobs outnumber seekers by a record gap. There is little shortage of jobs for Silicon Valley technicians, teachers and professors, engineers or whitecollar workers. However, what our country desperately needs are trained craftsman of all trades — electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, welders, steelworkers and building tradesmen. 3.5 x 4.75”

After the recession that began in 2008, the real estate market collapsed and millions of workers, many of them tradesmen, were out of work. Local governments had no money with which to maintain our roads, bridges and buildings. Craftsmen and builders had to find work elsewhere. Consequently, when Congress gets around to acting on the multi-billion-dollar program to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, there will be very few trained workers available to do the projects. Just think of it: 40% of all the bridges in our country are unsafe, and if you drive in any of our highways or byways, you will encounter 55+ - St.certainly Luke - Christ.Comm.

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the potholes and broken pavement that exist in most cities. Beyond this, the U.S. General Services Administration that was formed 70 years ago is America’s largest property owner, manager and landlord. GSA also had to cut back on building badly needed new buildings as well as repairing and rebuilding its existing properties.

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Selfie Craze Has People Viewing Plastic Surgery More Favorably You might be more apt to seek out a face-lift, a new nose, hair implants or a boob job if you’re a fan of posting selfies on social media, a new study reports. Adults who regularly use social media are more likely to consider getting plastic surgery to improve their online appearance, particularly if they prefer photo-heavy sites and apps, the researchers found. Furthermore, how much a person uses social media appears to directly relate to their interest in plastic surgery. Plastic surgery becomes a more and more appealing option as adults either become more invested in social media or draw more self-worth from their personal appearance, according to study author Lisa Ishii, a physician of the division of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues. Cosmetic surgeon Daria Hamrah said the findings mirror what he’s been seeing in his practice for the past several years. “I see more and more patients coming to my practice showing me their digitally altered selfies asking me to match it with surgery,” said Hamrah, based McLean, Virgina. “Sometimes their expectations are realistic, but most of the time they are not, which leads to very difficult conversations and disappointments.” A staggering 650 billion selfies are posted every day on various types of social media, said Michael Reilly, associate professor of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

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A New Chapter for Sam Roberts At 63, a former member of the Onondaga County Legislature and New York State Assembly, takes on a new challenge By Mary Beth Roach


am Roberts has been in politics and public service since the 1970s. For decades, he worked at General Motors and held various positions in the United Auto Workers union there. He has been a member of the Onondaga County Legislature and New York State Assembly, and he has held other state positions for years. He was honored recently with the Pioneer Public Servant award, citing his achievements with the UAW, as a member of the legislature and assembly, and as commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. The award is given by Helping to Empower Incarcerated Young People, a project of the Concerned Citizens Action Program. “When you look at the pioneers, I’ve kind of been out there in front of a few things over the years. I’m honored to do that, but I’m just standing on the shoulders of the people who came


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before me,” he said. He said despite being the second African-American elected to the legislature and the first person of color from this area to serve in the assembly, he has never promoted himself as an African-American candidate. “As far as me being an AfricanAmerican, I never framed myself as an African-American candidate but a candidate that just so happens to be of color,” he said. “It’s not about black and white. It’s about people. It’s not about color. It’s not race. It’s about people. And we’re all people.” Despite the awards, the accolades and his years of work in the public sector, the 63-year-old isn’t sure he’s made his biggest accomplishment yet. “I don’t know if I’ve reached my biggest accomplishment yet. The thing is, it’s still a work in progress for me,” he said. Roberts sat down for an interview recently as he started a new chapter in his life as SUNY Oswego’s special

Sam Roberts In his office at SUNY Oswego’s Metro Campus in Syracuse. He is now a special adviser to SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley for neighborhood and organizational collaborations in the Syracuse and Central New York regions. adviser to President Deborah Stanley for neighborhood and organizational collaborations in the Syracuse and Central New York regions. As such, he will help to enhance relationships and develop initiatives with local neighborhoods, organizations, government entities and other SUNY institutions in the CNY area. Roberts took this job with SUNY Oswego in order to remain closer to his family and his hometown of Syracuse. For years, his work has had him traveling to and from Massena and Albany. “SUNY Oswego was an opportunity to come back home. I’ve been living out of my suitcase since my daughter was 3 years old, and now she’s 21. I was blessed to be afforded this opportunity,” said Roberts, a father of seven ranging in age from 21 to 45. Prior to taking this position, he had served as the commissioner of the OTDA(New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance), calling it one of his most fulfilling jobs. “We dealt with homelessness, refugee services, and temporary aid to needy families. And again, when I go and break ground for a homeless shelter or supportive housing complex knowing the problems that we have, not only in Syracuse and New York state but across the country with homelessness, it’s something,” he noted. In his office at SUNY Oswego’s Metro Campus in Syracuse is a framed collage that sits on his windowsill from the Homeless Housing and Assistance Corp., a program administered by the OTDA in recognition of Roberts’ work as commissioner. The caption underneath the photos reads, “From June 2015 to January 2019: 1,939 Units Opened, Totaling 3,343 Beds.” Also from his OTDA staff is a photo of a gentleman on a motorcycle

against a setting sun, with well wishes as he begins his new job at SUNY Oswego. It is appropriate since Roberts owns an Indian Motorcycle. While he’s proud of his work at the OTDA and as he moves forward with his job at SUNY Oswego, he said there are so many things in society that are, as he put it, “unfinished.” “Borrowing a quote from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and one that’s been used by others as well, ‘it’s better to give them a hand up then a hand-out,’” Roberts said. The best way to help somebody out of poverty, he said, is through jobs and education, making sure that everyone has a fair shot at those jobs and encouraging children to stay in school and get the possible education they can. “You have to make sure everyone’s at the table. When you talk about discrimination, it’s not just racial discrimination. It’s also about dollars and cents. There are poor whites, poor blacks, poor everybody,” he said. “I won’t feel good until I see that everybody’s eating at that table.” A graduate of Nottingham High School, Roberts went to Onondaga Community College where he earned two associate’s degree. He also received two labor studies certificates from Cornell University. While working in Massena for General Motors, he attended classes at SUNY Canton and SUNY Potsdam and ultimately earned a bachelor’s degree in business, management and economics from SUNY Empire College.

Upward climb His long career in public service can well be attributed to his strong rapport with people and his upbringing. “I just love people. It comes from family. I was blessed to have my mother and father under the same roof. I have a lot of friends that didn’t have that,” he noted. His father and mother, Andrew and Annis Roberts, raised him and his four older siblings on Syracuse’s east side. He credited his parents, too, for igniting in him an interest in politics and the labor movement. They took Roberts as a youngster to the polls with them when they voted, and his mother would later become an elections inspector.

They were also strong labor union people, he said. His mother worked at General Electric for 38 years and was in the International Union of Electrical Workers, and his father was a sheet metal worker at Carrier. Shortly after, he started working at GM and served as chairman on several committees and members on others. As a teen in Syracuse, he became acquainted with Frank Jones, who at the time was involved in the Democratic Party in the 19th ward. The ward includes parts of the south side and the Comstock and Meadowbrook neighborhoods. Roberts ended up doing some campaign work for Jones, who had him do some poll watching. “That was where I cut my teeth,” Roberts said. At Jones’ suggestions, Roberts introduced himself to Nancy McCarty, who was a major player in the local Democratic Party and especially the 17th Ward, a stronghold for the party and Roberts’ home neighborhood. He would impress McCarty right from the start, and he would go on to become a block captain, a member of the 17th ward committee, and secretary for the ward. A l o n g t h e w a y, h e w o r k e d with some heavyweights in the local Democratic Party at that time, including Nancy Larraine Hoffmann, Rosemary Pooler, Lee Alexander and Tom Young, learning a lot and making a name for himself in the party. By now, it was the late 1980s, and Hoffmann was vacating her seat on the Syracuse City Council to move to the state Senate. Roberts had expressed an interest in running for the seat, but it wasn’t in the cards; the Democratic Party Committee went with another candidate. So he waited. “The next thing that came up was the county legislature, which was a few years later, but I was just stronger and better,” he said. He won the seat and would go on to serve five two-years terms, all through the 1990s. He was still working at the local GM plant as a tool and die maker, but when that closed, he transferred to Massena and worked at the GM Powertrain plant there. He retired from GM, and in 2007, he went to serve at the state’s Office of General Services as the superintendent of the Sen. Hughes State Office Building

in Syracuse. In 2010, he ran and won a seat in the state Assembly, representing what is now the 128th District. In 2015, when he was entering his third term, Cuomo tapped him for the job as commissioner for the OTDA.

Words to live by Roberts has been involved in martial arts since he was a teen. W h e n t h e We s t c o t t Yo u t h Organization opened up in his neighborhood, he came up through the program and became a volunteer. He taught martial arts there, because as he said, “I know what it did for me.” Eventually, he became a director of the organization. Today, he holds an eighth degree black belt in American Shotokan Karate. “Martial arts are a way of life. It’s more than fighting. It’s more mental. It gives you a whole new perspective. It depends on the school; it depends on the teacher, and it depends on the student themselves. I took it very seriously and it did a lot for me. It probably saved my life,” he said. He alluded to situations in his life in which because of the mindset he had learned through martial arts, he could walk away. “I didn’t have to prove anything to anybody,” he said. He also credited martial arts and his instructor with his ability to deal with challenges that have arisen. “He always said when you come to these stumbling blocks, you can try to push it out of the way, you can climb over it, you can walk around it, and sometimes you can dig underneath it. But don’t let that stumbling block stop you from getting to the other side and doing what you have to do. So that’s the way, just find some way to work around it,” Roberts said. Another of his teachers offered Roberts some wisdom that has stuck with him. One of his professors at OCC, Jim Dupree, used to tell him that if he could make a difference in the lives of one of his students, he would consider that his biggest accomplishment. Years later, Roberts ran into Dupree, who told him, “I think you’re that one student.” Did Roberts agree? “I don’t know. I’m still trying to live up to it. I’ve done a lot, but there’s still a lot more to do,” he said. August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


my turn By Bruce Frassinelli Email: bruce@cny55.com

Putting the ‘Fun’ in ‘Funeral’


hen it comes to my funeral, I am thinking outside of the box. I am sure this will not make any of my funeral director friends very happy, especially since some consider me a near-term prospective customer. After all, I became an official octogenarian a few months ago, so the clock seems to be ticking a bit louder these days. Naturally, we can’t avoid funeral directors completely, because their powerful lobbies have convinced state legislators that there must be regulations and uniformity; otherwise, we might wind up buried in the backyard at minimal cost to our heirs or discarded in the woods to provide dinner for wild animals. As for me, well, I want to put the “fun” in “funeral.” I know, I know. Some of you reading this are retching at such a notion. You are convinced that I am talking heresy and sacrilege, that I am trivializing one of life’s most solemn occasions. Understand that I am fully aware that this approach is not for everyone, but I assure you that I am not alone. I was pleasantly surprised to have read recently in The Washington Post about others who are memorializing loved ones in non-traditional ways. One daughter threw a “Memorialpalooza” party for her father several months after his death. Three hundred family members and friends showed up to enjoy hot dogs, sodas and funky music and received baseball caps inscribed with one of his favorite sayings, “Life’s not fair; get over it.” As Mark Twain cleverly observed: There are just two certainties in life — the other is taxes. But the time-honored ritual of shelling out more than $10,000 for a full-blown sendoff at a funeral home does not play well to a much


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more secular and casual America. Instead, funerals are being personalized — golf course cocktails for the once avid duffer, a medley of Sinatra tunes in place of “Ave Maria” for the “ol’ blue eyes” aficionado; even suits and ties are coming off and being replaced by more casual wear. According to a U.S. Census Bureau demographics prediction, by 2030, those over 65 will outnumber children, and by 2037, 3.6 million people will die — one million more than died in 2015. If you think this trend is farfetched, think of the major changes that have occurred during the last generation with weddings. Whoever heard of destination weddings in the ‘70s? Many families have already replaced viewings with memorial services where the body is not present. This coincides with the fact that about a third of Americans say that they never attend religious services, and nearly a quarter say they consider themselves atheist or agnostic. It’s been more than four years now that I gave explicit instructions to my middle son, Mike, on how to carry out my wishes once I pass to the Great Beyond or wherever I am heading. Among my three children, I chose Mike, because he is funny and can pull this off without appearing maudlin and gimmicky. Of course, I discussed this with

him in advance, and he seemed as fascinated with the prospects of roasting his father after his body had already been roasted. Come on, lighten up. I want to be cremated in the “most economical way possible” with no open-casket viewing. I am requesting a memorial service that celebrates my life — one that will allow family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances to “share recollections and reminiscences.” This is to be followed by a “let’s have a good time” celebration, which includes food and drink at a location that “befits the occasion.” I am asking

that ‘50s and early-‘60s music be played to commemorate the wonderful memories the tunes of that era held for me. Featured prominently will be the Four Lads’ recording of “Moments to Remember.” I will be asking anyone attending who would care to do so to “roast” me. My only hope is that I can be aware of what is being said and join in the laughter. My other two children are on board with this, too, but I am sure there may be some relatives who will find my requests to be ghoulish, which is why I have added this to my instructions: “While I understand that some of these requests are a bit unorthodox, I ask my family to acquiesce and to embrace my final wishes.” I was happy to learn that more than half of all Americans are cremated today, compared to 28 percent in 2002. The reason is cost, plus there are many who feel that cremation is more environmentally friendly. By 2035, cremations are expected to top 80 percent. The funeral home industry is adapting to these changes. Funeral directors are taking the cue and centering services around a person’s personality and likes and dislikes, providing for a unique experience that families will find meaningful. Some funeral homes have hired event planners, remodeled their facilities to include dance floors and lounge areas and acquired liquor licenses. Others have organized memorial celebrations at all sorts of locations that tie in with the deceased’s life. Hmm, I wonder whether Publisher Jon Spaulding would allow the event at The Palladium-Times where I capped my professional career. O f c o u r s e , t h e re a re m a n y opponents who say that this approach detracts from the grieving process for survivors. How do you carry out the deceased’s wishes without acknowledging sadness and loss? The key, I believe, is to make sure that a person discusses these plans in advance with the immediate family and addresses any objections that arise. The worst possible approach would be for a son or daughter to find out the unconventionality of the parent’s plan after death and have just days to come to grips with it.

Residence Amenities: • Beautifully-designed apartment layout including wood cabinets and flooring • Eat-in kitchens with full-size, stainless steel appliances • Laundry rooms with full-size washers and dryers • Private porch • Walk-in closets • All utilities and WiFi included • Pocket doors to maximize overall square footage

Now Reserving— The Glens at The Nottingham Located on the Nottingham campus, The Glens is Syracuse’s newest upscale retirement living community. This quiet, tree-lined neighborhood is the perfect fit for those looking for luxurious living with all the comforts of home. Residents can customize their independent lifestyle while taking advantage of as many of the services The Nottingham has to offer. Our attentive, friendly staff can be responsive to your needs so you can spend your time doing the things you love. The Glens features exclusive, comfortable living rich in upgraded amenities and more. We offer options to meet your lifestyle, in a smaller neighborhood reserved just for you.

Find out what has made The Nottingham the place to be in Central New York for more than 30 years. Call Marcy Cole at 315.413.3104 to schedule a tour and to reserve your apartment.


A Nottingham Residence

August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


consumers corner By Eva Briggs, M.D.


Tips to Reduce Risk of Polypharmacy

Older patients more likely to take multiple drugs, which can pose some risks


here’s a word doctors use when talking about a patient who’s taking multiple medications: polypharmacy. Sometimes there is a reason for a patient to take many drugs: several coexisting medical problems or a single condition that requires several medicines to control. But oftentimes there are simply too many medicines with the dangers implied: drug interactions, side effects, excess costs, overdose when a patient takes two or more similar medicines. The older the patient, the greater the risk of polypharmacy. Even though people over 65 make up about 13% of the population, they account for roughly 30% of all prescriptions. How does polypharmacy happen? There are several ways. First, patients often take over-the-counter medicines or herbal supplements. Just because something is available without a prescription, that doesn’t mean that it’s OK to take as much as desired, as often as desired, or without regard to other medications. The most common categories of over-the-counter medicines are pain relievers and cough/cold preparations. Manufacturers are limited to a few active ingredients for pain relievers: acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen or ketoprofen. And the


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‘With so few basic ingredients available, why does the average pharmacy’s shelves hold dozens — or perhaps hundreds — of remedies for cough, cold, congestion, fever, aches and pains?’ last three all fall into the class of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), which have similar side effects and risks and should not be used together. There are similarly only a limited number of available active ingredients from which a manufacturer can concoct a potion to treat colds and flu: decongestants (pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine), antihistamines (diphenhydramine, loratidine and cetirizine), expectorants (guaifenisen), or cough suppressants (dextromethorphan.) So, with so few basic ingredients available, why does the average pharmacy’s shelves hold dozens — or perhaps hundreds — of remedies for cough, cold, congestion, fever, aches and pains? In one word: marketing. Each manufacturer combines

various ingredients and comes up with a catchy name and catchier advertising. In order to understand what he or she is really taking, a consumer has to read the fine print, and to understand which ingredients might interact with other over-the-counter or prescription medicines. At least with over-the-counter medicines, the dosages and ingredients are standardized. But items marketed as “supplements” are subject to much less stringent standardization of active ingredients and dosage reliability. “Supplements,” even when touted as “natural,” carry the potential of adverse reactions or interactions with other medicines. Another easy way for patients to fall into the polypharmacy trap is to visit multiple doctors who each prescribe medication to treat their area of specialization, while unaware of medications prescribed by other physicians. This can happen also during a visit to an emergency room or urgent care. After a hospital admission, a patient may be discharged with new or different medications. If he continues these medicines plus medications taken before hospitalization, he may wind up with drugs that interact or that have duplicate effects. If you suspect that you or a loved one are taking too many drugs, start by

gathering all medicines. Everything: prescriptions, over-the-counters, supplements, eye drops, skin creams, etc. Then bring them to your doctor and review each medicine. Discuss the following questions with your doctor.


Is this medicine necessary? Over time, the underlying condition for which the drug was prescribed may change. Or the patient may have modified his lifestyle so that the medicine is no longer needed. And sometimes new information changes the way medicines are used; what was considered state-of-the art 10 years ago may be outdated today.


Is this drug contraindicated in the elderly? As people age, it may be necessary to alter their medication regimen to ensure that the risks do not outweigh the benefits.


Are there duplicate medications? For example, a patient taking a prescription NSAID may not realize that it can’t safely be combined with an over-the-counter medicine in the same class. Similarly, one specialist might prescribe a beta-blocker medicine to prevent migraines while another doctor might prescribe a beta-blocker to treat blood pressure, placing a patient at increased risk for side effects.


Is the patient taking the lowest effective dose? As people age, the organs that clear various drugs, such as the liver and kidneys, age too. The dose prescribed a decade earlier might need to be reduced to reflect the altered metabolism.


Is the medication being taken to counteract the side effects of another medicine? This is surprisingly common. Perhaps the first medicine can be changed, reduced, or eliminated, thus eliminating the need for a medicine to treat its side effects.


Can the regimen be simplified? Sometimes a single combination medicine can replace two individual drugs. Or a medicine that requires multiple daily doses can be changed to a once daily alternative.


Are there potential drug interactions? That’s one reason why it’s vital to bring all medicines, even nonprescription substances, to the office visit. Whenever possible, patients should try to obtain all their medicines from a single pharmacy. Often the pharmacist will be the first to recognize a potential drug interaction.


Is the patient actually taking the medicine? Just because a medicine is sitting in the medicine cabinet, it doesn’t mean that the patient is actually taking it. If not, it’s important to find out why in order to address the problem. Is it the cost? Are there side effects? Is the dosing too complicated? If these issues can’t be resolved, it makes no sense for the patient to have the medicine hanging around at home. Otherwise, years later, the patient may discover the medicine, restart it, and experience a problem. Take a look around your house today. This would be a good time to take an inventory of what medications you have. Dispose of any that are no longer needed or that are outdated. Make a list that you can carry in your wallet. Learn the purpose of each medicine. And if you think that you still have too many medicines, bring them in to your doctor for a medication review.

Stoneleigh Apartments 400 Lamb Ave, Canastota • 697-2847

Where your neighbors are like family! Inviting one bedroom apartments close to essential services and stores, as well as emergency and health services for Seniors (over 62) or receiving SS with a permanent mobility impairment within income guidelines

Bennett Manor Apartments Senior Housing (Elderly and/or Disabled) In Residential Section. E. Irving and Dausman Sts East Syracuse

Rent Based on Income Many Outstanding Features Eva Briggs is a medical doctor who works at two urgent care centers (Central Square and Fulton) operated by Oswego Health.

• On Bus Line • All One Bedroom Units • 24 Hour Maintenance • Secure Building • Wall to Wall Carpeting • One Pet Welcome • Total Electric w/ Individual Controls Apply Rental Office

100 Bennett Manor Drive, E. Syracuse Mon-Fri 7:30–3:30

437-4864 August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


life after 55 By Michele Reed michele@cny55.com


Fire and Rebirth: The Unbeatable French Spirit

e were in Oswego when Notre Dame de Paris burned in April of this year. Watching on TV as the spire came crashing down, we could just imagine the reactions of our French friends and neighbors. Even though we live in the South of France, about as far away from Paris as you can be and still be in France, the capital and its cathedral are potent symbols for all French people. One thing we’ve learned in our years in France is that the French value their patrimoine, or architectural heritage, in ways it is hard for we Americans to comprehend. Here, a building is considered ancient if it is 200 years old. There, it would be considered nothing remarkable. For example, the stone foundations of our French home date back a thousand years, although it has been renovated and modernized over the years, most recently less than a decade ago. Two doors down the street from us, a house bears a shield with the year 1765 carved into it. Public buildings in Europe are never “finished,” always a work in progress. Our village church was first built in the 6th century, with a square Roman tower. It was added to in the Middle Ages; and finally finished in the 19th century, with the vignerons, or prosperous winegrowers, donating huge sums to have it renovated, including mosaics by a famous Russian artist of the time. This fact of European life — that churches, cathedrals and even houses continue to grow and evolve over centuries, including rebuilding when destroyed by war or fire — came home to us again, while watching the coverage of the Notre Dame fire. French President Emmanuel Macron promised Notre Dame would be repaired within five years. Scores of wealthy donors pledged billions of


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dollars to its restoration. We were happy to learn that a French lottery ticket we purchased went into a fund which will be used to restore Notre Dame, among other treasures of French heritage. One article in our local French newspaper explained that the last time Notre Dame burned, during the French Revolution of 1789, the people harvested oak trees from the forests surrounding the Palace of Versailles to replace the wooden framework of the steeple. They immediately replanted those trees. Since then, for more than 200 years, an army of foresters has been bending and shaping the oak trees to the perfect curve for the underpinnings of the steeple. That’s planning ahead. Much closer to home, our adopted French city of Beziers, about a 10-minute bus ride from our village, provides a great example of this

rebirth in the face of adversity. Beziers’ Cathedral of Saint Nazaire and Saint Celse, was a Christian religious site from the 8th century, built atop the ruins of a Roman pagan temple. It sits high on a hill, overlooking the whole valley of the Orb River, a strategic point to deter any possible enemies. The cathedral was built in the 10th century, added to and improved in the 12th century, but in 1209, it was destroyed by fire. The attack on July 22, 1209, became known as the Massacre of Beziers. It was the first major military action of the Albigensian Crusade, mounted by the Catholic Church to root out and destroy the Cathar heresy, which had taken hold in the South of France. The Cathars were particularly strong in the area where we live. When the Crusaders attacked the city of Beziers, thousands of people

The Cathedral of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, as seen from the streets of Beziers. It was rebuilt after being completely destroyed by fire in 1209. The older, Romanesque tower, is on the right, and the 13th-15th century gothic nave is on the left. Photo By Bill Reed

sought sanctuary in the cathedral and also the nearby churches of St. Jude and St. Mary Magdalene, where we attend mass on a regular basis. The medieval convention was that you could not be attacked if you found sanctuary in a holy place. Thousands of faithful Catholics and Cathars alike were taking refuge, side by side, in the churches. When asked to hand over the heretics, the people of Beziers refused to betray their neighbors. The crusaders asked the papal legate what to do. He famously declared, “Kill them all. God will know His own.” So the Crusaders rushed into the churches and cathedral, killing all inside. Chronicles of the time tell us that 20,000 people perished in the city, with 7,000 of those in the Church of St. Mary Magdelene. The Crusaders then set fire to the city. The cathedral burned and collapsed upon itself. With the tenacity the French have always shown, the people of Beziers rebuilt the cathedral, starting in 1215 and continuing to the 15th century. The resulting structure is in the Gothic style, although the original Romanesque tower remains to this day. The most recent renovation dates from 1925 to 1933. Today the Cathedral of Saint Nazaire in Beziers is a beautiful house of worship, made stronger by its history of rising — literally — above the ashes of its violent past. We can all hope that President Macron, the French people, and lovers of Notre Dame from around the world, can make the same magic happen and restore Paris’ great landmark to its full glory soon.

The rose window of the Cathedral of Beziers rises above the church’s beautiful organ. Photo By Bill Reed

These cherubs are part of later decoration added to the Cathedral of Beziers, which was rebuilt after the 1209 fire and embellished over the centuries. Photo By Bill Reed

This plaque tells of the rebuilding of the cathedral from the 13th century onward, and calls the building “forever dear to all the Bitterois (the name for the residents of the area around Beziers).” Photo By Bill Reed

This statue of St. Joan of Arc, one of the patron saints of France, stands before an even older fresco, faded and damaged, but still beautiful after centuries. Photo By Bill Reed August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


druger’s zoo

By Marvin Druger Email: mdruger@syr.edu



Bonding with others is the spice of life

veryone is unique and complex. Yet, humans are social animals who need to relate to others to survive and prosper. Everyone has a unique personality with desirable and undesirable traits. At social events, I often think about how two individuals relate to each other. I see people of all sizes, ages, colors and appearances that are married and presumably lead happy lives together. Every relationship has its bumps and bruises, and divorces are not uncommon; but, usually, the bruises heal and life goes on happily. I sometimes wonder how two people can get along with each other for long periods of time. Even family relations can suffer strains. There is the old truism, “I can’t wait until my family visits me, and I can’t wait until they go home.” Life involves many adaptations. Not only do we have to adapt to our physical environment, but we also need to adapt to others and even to ourselves. I am the fortunate product of a 60-year relationship with a wonderful woman who passed away a few years ago. Pat and I met at a party. I was president of Lyons House Plan at Brooklyn College. A house plan was like a fraternity, but members lived at home. I arranged three parties for Easter weekend. Two were with college sororities and one was with a high school sorority. I told my friends, “I’m not going to the high school party. Those girls are too young for me.” Their response was, “If you don’t go, then we are not going either.” So, I went to the high school party. I chatted with a lovely young lady at the party and asked, “Can I walk you home?” “OK,” she replied. I walked with her in the middle of the street at night and she said,” Do you know how old I am?” I said, ”Probably 17 or 18.” “I’m 15,” she replied. I was so shocked that we walked around


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the block once more. Then I escorted her in the elevator to the apartment on the fifth floor where she lived with her parents. Pat’s apartment was at the end of the hallway. I said, “Good night. Nice meeting you,” and I walked back to the elevator. “Nice girl,” I thought to myself, “But she’s too young for me. Going out with her would be like robbing the cradle.” For some reason, Pat fumbled with her keys and, for some reason, the elevator was at a different floor. The time span must have been 10 seconds. I thought to myself, “She was really nice. Maybe I should ask her on a date.” So, I walked back to her and asked, “Would you like to go to a movie with me next Friday?” She unenthusiastically said, “OK.” We went to a movie at the Fox Theater in downtown Brooklyn that Friday. In the movie, Pat put her arm around me. Wow! That was a cool and pleasant experience. Years later, she told me that she was fidgety and that she put her arm around the chair. This experience eventually led to 60 years of a wonderful relationship, three children and seven grandchildren. I often think of what might have been if Pat had found the key to her apartment immediately and if the elevator had been stopped on the fifth floor. I didn’t know Pat’s last name and I didn’t know her phone number. I probably would never have seen her again, but luck favored me. How can two people live together happily for 60 years? I jokingly tell people, “The secret is compromise. Do whatever she says and don’t ask questions.” I also tell everyone: “Let her handle the money.” Thirdly, I jokingly say, “I make all the big decisions, and she decides the rest. I decide if we are going to have a war with another country, etc., while she decides everything else.”

Like all marriages, we had conflicts over this long span of living together, but they were relatively few and far between. We knew each other so well that we had silent arguments. I knew what got her angry, and vice versa. We would just be quiet and say nothing and the anger passed quickly. I discovered that, in any relationship, we have to put disagreements in perspective and learn to let things go. On occasion, one of us is bound to say or do something that may be insulting or offensive. Love requires flexibility and adaptation. There are far worse things that can happen in life, so we have to learn to just let it go. Usually, the trauma will fade away: “This, too, shall pass.”

Golden verses Love, sex, friendship and sharing experiences were important components of our long marriage. I loved Pat madly and wrote many poems to her. Here is one that I wrote on the occasion of our 50th wedding anniversary: We’ve been married 50 years And I am pleased to say That the love that we have shared Grows stronger every day We’ve shared so many things, And we’ve had so much fun, Our special traits are different, But in spirit we are one Love and friendship last forever, They never fade away, We walk and talk together And we laugh at life each day Fifty years have passed, They went by very fast, But our love stays young, And forever it will last Happy 50th anniversary! Sex is an expression of love, but true love goes far beyond sex. I truly wanted to share my life with her in all ways, but at the same time, recognize her uniqueness and special interests and activities. Pat earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Syracuse University, and she worked with me in teaching the introductory biology course at Syracuse University for many years. Then she served as an administrator in the writing program at SU. Verbal expressions of love go a long way in a relationship. When Pat

told me about a friend who complained about all the bad traits of her husband, I said, “There’s nothing that I don’t like about you.” On another occasion, Pat told me that someone loved her colorful raincoat. I responded, “I love what’s in the raincoat.” Before she became ill, Pat told me that she loved me and, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest, that her life was a 10. I jokingly replied, “Mine was a six.” If you truly love someone, why not tell them, “I love you?” This simple phrase can help avoid conflicts and can help a relationship last a long time. So, say it often. Pat’s untimely death ended 60 years of love and happiness. I was desperately afraid of being alone, and I knew that Pat would want me to find a new relationship. My granddaughter enrolled me in an online dating service. I met many women, and dated seven of them at the same time. All of them were very nice and seeking companionship. Then one day, I was shopping at Wegman’s in Dewitt. I was standing behind an attractive lady waiting to check out. She was buying all sorts of foods that I don’t eat. I commented, “My wife died last year, so I’m alone and I only have a bag of salad.” For some reason she can’t explain, she gave me her business card (she is an audiologist) and said, “I’m alone too.” She had the appealing name of “Victoria.” I didn’t need an eighth date, so I didn’t contact her for a while. After a few weeks, I thought, “Victoria was kind of nice. I’ll invite her to lunch.” So, I sent her an email asking if she would go out to lunch with a famous professor. She didn’t respond for a few weeks. Then she contacted me and told me that she had checked me out and that I was, indeed, a famous professor, and that she was willing to have lunch with me. So, we met for lunch at Phoebe’s restaurant on East Genesee Street. It was an awkward situation. What do you talk about? Do you have any hobbies? Do you have any children? How’s your job? etc.” But we had a pleasant time at lunch. A few weeks later, I thought to myself, “She was really nice, but much younger than me. I’ll ask her to lunch again. What the heck!” Then, I

discovered that she lives a few blocks from my house, and I offered to pick her up to drive in my car to the same restaurant. We had lunch again at the restaurant. I came to like Victoria even more. We had a good conversation but, most important, she laughed at my jokes. After lunch, I got into my car, waved goodbye to Victoria and drove out of the parking lot. I forgot that I had driven her to the restaurant in my car. I’m sure Victoria was standing there thinking, “What the heck is he doing?” Fortunately, as I reached the street, I realized my error and drove back to get her.

This episode was the beginning of a new relationship. Victoria has been my companion for more than four years. We have traveled together and have had many adventures. After 60 years of being with Pat, developing a new relationship was not easy, but Victoria and I have adapted to each other. We enjoy being together. Our age difference does not really seem important. Vincent Van Gogh died at 37; George Burns died at 100. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? So, my message is to live life as fully as possible. Cherish relationships with others. Make the most of the brief time we have on Earth.

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August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS




Cayuga County is part of the Finger Lakes Wine Trail.


Things to Explore in Cayuga County

County stretches from Lake Ontario all the way to the Finger Lakes By Sandra Scott


rom a Great Lake to a Finger Lake, visitors will find Cayuga County has it all — wine, theater, arts, history and nature

galore. The county has eight lakes, a section of the Erie Canal, and more fresh water frontage than any other New York state county. From paddle boarding to snowmobiling, there is outdoor fun for all ages during all the seasons. For the adventurous there is sky diving and scuba diving — something to thrill all levels of enthusiasts.


H i s t o r y : Wi l l i a m S e w a rd was secretary of state under President Lincoln and was injured as part of the conspiracy that assassinated President Lincoln. As secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson 48

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he negotiated the treaty that made Alaska part of the United States. It was called Seward’s Icebox until gold was discovered. Seward made his home in Auburn. His beautifully preserved home is open for tours. Also in Auburn is the Ward W. O’Hara Agricultural Museum highlighting farming and rural life of 100 years ago. Sterling’s Little Red Schoolhouse Museum has displays from yesteryear plus railroad memorabilia, including an operational pump car. The Cayuga-Oswaco Lakes Historical Society in Moravia has items belonging to Mildred Fillmore, the 13th president who was born in Moravia, along with exhibits dealing with the area. 


Freedom Trail: Follow Auburn’s historic Freedom Trail to the Harriet Tubman National Historic

Park. Tubman, known as the “Moses of her People,” led many slaves to freedom and served as a spy during the Civil War. She settled down in Auburn where she started a home for the aged and indigent black people. In 2017 the home became the cornerstone of a National Historic Park. Tubman died in 1913 and is buried in Auburn’s Fort Hill Cemetery. Harriet Tubman hid runaway slaves in the woods around the historic Springside Inn on Owasco Lake and legend has it that the 1851 Inn was also part of the Underground Railroad.


Performing Arts: No need to go to the Big Apple for Broadway shows; Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in Auburn is a professional summer stock theater utilizing many actors and staff on hiatus from NYC’s theaters. It is part of the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival with additional performing venues, one of which is The PiTCH where new musical productions are tried out. The restored Victorian Morgan Opera House in historic Aurora has retained many of its original features and hosts a wide range of productions.


Arts: The Willard Memorial Chapel was once part of the Auburn Theological Seminary, an educational facility that educated

pastors and missionaries. It is the only complete Tiffany chapel in existence. Unique features include a rose window, Moresque-style chandeliers, glass mosaic tiles, and a ceiling with gold leaf stencils. Also in Auburn is the Schweinfurth Art Center, a nonprofit, multi-art venue that offers more than a dozen exhibitions featuring national and international artists. They also offer a variety of art classes and workshops for all age groups.


Libation time: Cayuga County is a key member of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. There are several wineries, including Colloca Estate Winery on the shore of Lake Ontario in Fair Haven. Colloca is a popular venue for weddings and other events. Also visit the Apple Station and Izzo’s White Barn wineries. The Sterling Cidery creates craft ciders made from local apples and in Weedsport the Lunkenheimer Craft Brewing Company brews specialty beers one barrel at a time. 

Union Springs, Lock 52 Historical Society in Port Byron, Old Brutus Historical Society in Weedsport, and Olde Victory Village Museum in Red Creek. Don’t miss the small village of Aurora that was revitalized by an alumnus of Wells College and the founder of the American Girl doll.


Festivals: There are many fun festivals, including the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, the Annual Lavender Festival, Founders Day, and TomatoFest which features crafts, entertainment, cooking demonstrations, a pasta dinner and more. Check out the merriment in 1585 Warwick at the Sterling Renaissance Festival where the order of the day is

to eat, drink and be merry. Huzzah! Huzzah! Or, growl “arr” during a day of fun at Sterling’s Pirate Fest.


Unique: MacKenzie-Childs in Aurora creates one of a kind furniture and other household items. Auburn’s Theodore Case invented the first commercially successful system of sound on film. The Cayuga Museum located in the historic Willard-Case Mansion is a repository for the Case Research Lab. Frontenac Island, in Cayuga Lake west of Union Springs, was the sacred burial site where an archeological dig turned up human remains and artifacts dating back 5000 years. 


Nature: Montezuma Wildlife Refuge includes more than 9,000 acres of protected wetlands. There are miles of hiking trails and several observation towers. The visitor center is open from spring to fall where they offer informational and educational programs. Enjoy the great beach at Fair Haven Beach State Park along with campgrounds, cabins, hiking, and other outdoor activities. Check out the Cowsheds Waterfalls at the 941-acre Fillmore Glen State Park near Moravia, as well as Long Point State Park near Aurora which has a swimming area and hiking trails.

Home of William Seward in Auburn is open for tours. Amongmany other things, he was secretary of state under President Lincoln.


Tee Time: The county has 12 golf courses making it a destination delight for golfers. Kings Ferry Golf Club has a Scottish-links style course while Highland Park Golf Course can be a challenge for some golfers. Regardless, there is a course for every level of golfer. Check out money-saving packages that include accommodations, golfing, and meals creating a stress-free getaway.


Small town ambiance: The county is dotted with small towns, many of which have their own historical society or museum plus places of interest. Visit Frontenac Historical Society and Museum in

Home for the aged on the Freedom Trail was created by Harriet Tubman, who led many slaves to freedom. August / September 2019 - 55 PLUS


last page Maryann Roefaro, 60 By Mary Beth Roach

Healthcare leader shares her thoughts on writing her latest book, ‘A Human’s Purpose by Millie the Dog, with Maryann Roefaro’ What is the purpose of your most recent book, “A Human’s Purpose by Millie the Dog, with Maryann Roefaro.”? I think the world seems to be searching. There are many people who search, and they search externally. I think everything is from the inside out. People struggle to know their purpose, and I think we live in a world that’s very stressful. One of the most difficult things that people deal with is death. I think if I can help change the perspective on all of that, then it could help people create the conditions for more joyful life. What prompted you to tell it from Millie’s point of view? You know the famous book, “A Dog’s Purpose”? I figured if a human could write “A Dog’s Purpose,” why couldn’t a dog write “A Human’s Purpose”? I thought, “I could make some very heavy subject matter just have a touch more lightness if it could have an element of storytelling by a dog.”

How would describe the book? Is it self-help? Is it spiritual? It’s a selfhelp, spiritual book that deals with everything from life, death and families. There’s even practical applications and exercises to be more resilient, to help people take what they feel could be insurmountable problems and break them down into smaller pieces where they could make everything more manageable. You’re the CEO of Hematology/ Oncology Associates. You’re also a doctor of divinity. How does this book tie all that in together? “A Human’s Purpose” is truly a spiritual journey from the inside out that helps us create the conditions for a joyful and love-filled life and to deal with all the things that are difficult in life, death being one of them. If we can understand that when people die, the vessel that holds that soul is gone, but that person lives forever. There are many lifetimes of the soul. All of those lives bring growth and the ability to evolve spiritually. Some elements of the book will not resonate with people, but some elements might awaken a consciousness. What do you want people to take from the book? There will be people that this book is not for because they’re very structured in their organized religious beliefs. But there is a multitude of people that I have met in

my travels that, although they may be a part of an organized religion, still question and seek. They hunger to know more information. If we can go through life knowing that we don’t know everything, that there’s always something else, that’s there’s always other information out there, then there’s always a quest to continue to evolve. This book is a venue to continue that evolution for those people that it would be appropriate for. The book tries to spark questions and thought, and provoke people to push themselves to think differently. What is a human’s purpose? A human’s purpose is to understand that they were created by love, from love, and they are love. Which means in life, you’ll want to increase your capacity to love more, which will then in turn, allow you to be loved more because love is the purpose of our existence. Like the Beatles said, “All you need is love.” What’s next for you on your journey? I love my job. I love being the CEO here. I’ve been here over 17 years. I see myself as retiring from here, as far as my career goes. But I see that I will be active until I die. My ultimate goal is to leave the world a better place than I found it, to be able to use all of my gifts to the best of my ability, whatever those gifts happen to be, and they’ll evolve through time, and to share the things that I feel have helped me be a better person, have helped me create the conditions for a happy and more fulfilled life. That’s what it’s all about. People wish to be happy and they wish for better things, but the key is to create the conditions for that to occur. What is happiness to you? How do you create for you? How do I do that, being bombarded by environmental factors that I have no control over, or environmental issues that are concerning, or that are conflicting, or that are toxic? That’s really where I hope this book goes.

Maryann Roefaro holding her poodle, Millie. She recently published a new book that deals with everything from life, death and families. Roefaro is the CEO of Hematology/Oncology Associates of Central New York. 50

55 PLUS - August / September 2019


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55+ CNY #82 Agusut/September 2019  

55+ CNY #82 Agusut/September 2019