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Sex Is Good: Many in Their 70s and 80s Still Hard at It


Pediatrician Stuart Trust: 78 and Still Going Strong

PLUS Issue 56 April / May 2015

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

John Spillett, Music Educator of the Year in 2014, Talks About Music, Teaching

MY FIRST MARATH0N Maryann Roefaro of Camillus never ran until she turned 53. Then, at 55, she completed her first marathon. Now she wants to spread the word about Chi Running, a technique she adopted


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Sex Is Good: Many in Their 70s and 80s Still Hard at It

April / May 2015


Pediatrician Stuart Trust: 78 and Still Going Strong

PLUS Issue 56 April / May 2015

For Active Adults in the Central New York Area

John Spillett, Music Educator of the Year in 2014, Talks About Music, Teaching

MY FIRST MARATH0N Maryann Roefaro of Camillus never ran until she turned 53. Then, at 55, she completed her first marathon. Now she wants to spread the word about Chi Running, a technique she adopted


14 16 Savvy Senior 6 12 RETIREMENT Financial Health 8 • What to consider before you Gardening 10

apply for Social Security benefits

My Turn 20 14 EXERCISE Aging 36 • Syracuse woman enjoys tai chi

Consumers Corner 38

so much she became an instructor

16 Life After 55 40 PROFILE Golden Years 44 • Stuart Trust, a 78-year-old Druger’s Zoo 46 Bea Gonzalez, 60, dean of University College at S.U., talks about career


55 PLUS - April / May 2015

pediatrician, still working full time


• Jack Skillman: The Force Behind the Onondaga Hillplayers

25 SEX

• Study shows many in their 70s and over-80s still very active sexually

22 42 28 MUSIC

• Music educator of the year spreads joy through his saxophone in CNY


• Maryann Roefaro started running at 53 — now the sport has become her passion


• Two women log nearly 20,000 hours as volunteers


• Ten things to do and see in Syracuse

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April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS


savvy senior By Jim Miller

Retirement Saver’s Tax Credit


he “retirement saver’s tax credit” is a frequently overlooked credit that’s available to low and moderate-income individuals and families who make saving for retirement a priority. Here’s how it works. If you contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA, or an employer sponsored plan like a 401(k), 457, 403(b), SEP plan, SIMPLE IRA or other retirement-savings plan, the retirement saver’s tax credit will allow you to claim 10, 20 or 50 percent of your contribution, depending on your income, up to a maximum of $1,000 per person or $2,000 per couple. To qualify, you must also be at least 18 years old and not a full-time student, and were not claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. And your adjusted gross income in 2015 must be $61,000 or less as a married couple filing jointly, $45,750 or less if filing as head of household, or $30,500 or less if you’re a single filer. These income limits are adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation. To get the 50 percent credit, you’ll need to have an income below $18,250 if you’re single, $27,375 if you’re filing as head of household, and $36,500 for couples in 2015. The 20 percent credit rate applies to individuals earning between $18,251 and $19,750; for head of household filers it’s $27,376 to $29,625; and for couples it’s $36,501 to $39,500. And the 10 percent rate is for individuals with an adjusted gross income between $19,751 and $30,500; for head of household filers 29,626 to $45,750; and couples it’s between $39,501 and $60,100. Double Tax Break You also need to know that the retirement saver’s tax credit can be


55 PLUS - April / May 2015

55PLUS Editor and Publisher Wagner Dotto

claimed in addition to the tax deduction you get for contributing to your employer’s retirement plan or a traditional IRA. Here’s an example of how this works. Let’s say you’re married and have an income of $37,000, and your spouse is not working. If you contribute $1,000 to your company’s 401(k) plan, your adjusted gross income would be reduced to $36,000 on your tax return. You would also be able to claim a 50 percent retirement saver’s credit, which is worth $500, for your $1,000 401(k) contribution. Keep in mind though that this is a tax credit, not a deduction, so it lowers your income tax dollar for dollar. It is, however, a nonrefundable tax credit, which means it cannot reduce the amount of tax owed to less than zero. How to Claim To claim the credit, you will need to fill out Form 8880 (see pub/irs-pdf/f8880.pdf) and attach it to your 1040, 1040A or 1040NR when you file your tax return. Don’t use the 1040EZ Form. If you think that you would have qualified for the credit in previous years but didn’t claim it, you can file an amended return as far back as 2011 and still get the credits. A 2011 amended return is due by April 15. See IRS Form 1040X ( irs-pdf/i1040x.pdf) for instructions on how to file an amended return. And for more information on the retirement saver’s tax credit, see IRS Publication 590 “Individual Retirement Arrangements” ( irs-pdf/p590.pdf). If you don’t have Internet access to see or download these forms, call the IRS at 800-829-3676 and ask them to mail them to you.

Associate Editor Lou Sorendo


Deborah J. Sergeant Aaron Gifford, Sandra Scott Mary Beth Roach, Matthew Liptak Debra Groom, Suzanne M. Ellis


Eva Briggs, M.D., Bruce Frassinelli Marilyn Pinsky, Harold Miller Jim Sollecito, David J. Zumpano Marvin Druger, Michele Reed


Marsha Preston Amy Gagliano, Beth Clark

Office Manager Alice Davis

Layout and Design Chris Crocker

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: $15 a year; $25 for two years © 2015 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. Third class postage paid at Syracuse, NY. Permit Number: 3071

How to Reach Us P.O. Box 276 Oswego, NY 13126 Phone: 315-342-1182 Fax: 315-342-7776 Email:

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April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS


financial health By David J. Zumpano

Having Your Cake And Eating It Too


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55 PLUS - April / May 2015

earned. Fortunately for them, they are able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle in retirement. While not considered wealthy, their $500,000 of assets is sufficient to generate income, combined with their Social Security and pension, to ensure they remain independent. They have three children, and are proud of their family. Not unlike most other families, however, it’s not perfect. Their oldest son, Bob Jr., is a doctor and married with four children. He is financially successful and has a strong family. Their middle child, Maria, is a school teacher and married to Jim, who was a very nice guy, but is on his third business. The businesses seem to work for a little while, but eventually fall apart. Their youngest child, George, is married but has no children. When Bob and Mary went to see an estate-planning attorney, they expressed how they had worked their lifetime, built what they had, and they wanted to make sure it was protected from the government, nursing homes, lawsuits and other predators. They also indicated it was very important to remain in control and stay independent. They wanted to remain in complete control and have 100 percent protection of their assets. They wanted to have their cake and eat it too. Lucky for them, there was a solution. The attorney reviewed the key estate-planning issues to identify which were most important. After identifying their goals and objectives, he recommended an iPug Protection Trust. An iPug trust is an irrevocable trust that, while is a separate legal entity, is not a separate taxable entity; it uses the couple’s Social Security

number. The advantage is, Bob and Mary can put their assets in the trust without any tax consequence and retain a favorable tax treatment after death that would not be available if they transferred the assets to their children during life. In addition, since it is an irrevocable trust, their assets are protected from lawsuits, predators, creditors and, yes, even the nursing home. Bob and Mary were shocked to learn they could maintain full control of this trust by remaining trustee and they had the ability to retain the right to change beneficiaries, timing, manner and method of distribution, all the administrative provisions in the trust. The only caveat was, they had to agree they could never again access the principal. The iPug trust also permits Bob and Mary to retain all of the income from the trust, and have the entire principal available for the children, grandchildren or other family members, if needed. In fact, it could be available to anyone, except them. While they initially did not like the idea of giving up access, they were much more comfortable staying in control. The reality was, they didn’t want the money for themselves anyway but merely for the family. Bob and Mary were confused as they always were told if they create an irrevocable trust, they would not be able to control it or change it. The estate planning attorney explained that for the last several decades, estate tax laws required those restrictions, but with the new laws, it is totally permissible. Bob and Mary were thrilled, and immediately began planning to protect their lifetime of assets for their needs, and those of their family. David J. Zumpano is an attorney and a certified public accountant (CPA). He operates Estate Planning Law Center. He can be reached at 315-793-3622.

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Another Study Finds Mediterranean Diet May Cut Heart Risks


losely following the Mediterranean diet can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, another study suggests. The study included more than 2,500 Greek adults, aged 18 to 89, whose diets and health were tracked for 10 years. Nearly 20 percent of men and 12 percent of women in the study developed or died from heart disease. People who most closely followed a Mediterranean diet were 47 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who did not closely follow the diet. The researchers also found that sticking to a Mediterranean diet was more protective against heart disease than physical activity. “Our study shows that the Mediterranean diet is a beneficial intervention for all types of people — in both genders, in all age groups, and in both healthy people and those with health conditions,” study co-author Ekavi Georgousopoulou, a Ph.D. candidate at Harokopio University in Athens, said in a news release from the American College of Cardiology. “It also reveals that the Mediterranean diet has direct benefits for heart health, in addition to its indirect benefits in managing diabetes, hypertension [high blood pressure] and inflammation,” the researcher added. Previous studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet — which is high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, and olive oil — is associated with weight loss, lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease. “Because the Mediterranean diet is based on food groups that are quite common or easy to find, people around the world could easily adopt this dietary pattern and help protect themselves against heart disease with very little cost,” Georgousopoulou said.


55 PLUS - April / May 2015

By Jim Sollecito


Get Some Pep in Your Step

very spring is a re-launch. no flowers. But, boy, did those plants Plants we owned last fall will grow, reaching 10 or more feet across now reveal themselves as and at least 8 feet tall. That meant we either a positive or negative had to drag out the ladder to hack in our landscape. We sometimes learn them back. If we pruned them as late that a single element or even a large as summer break (and we sometimes did), we removed part of the yard has flower buds for the seen better days. Some next spring. Shrubs plants have reached that flower before the the end of their useful summer solstice should life. be pruned before the Congratulations! summer solstice. This is an opportunity Remember that when for improvement. bringing out your The replacement bypass pruners. plants should not only Show Off Forsythia My Dad has been provide pleasure but also a bit less work. Consider the gone over 30 years. Many years ago I progress in computers over the past removed those plants from my Mom’s 20 years: how much more we can do yard. I was all done pruning them. In with a less bulky device. Relate that their place I planted compact Wine and concept to plants and that should Roses Weigela. (Tip: don’t replant the be your goal: More, brighter, bigger same site with a genus of plant that flowers. Compact, low-maintenance you just removed because they’ll rarely selections. Choices that are resistant flourish.) About 30 feet away I tucked to disease, insect and even deer. But a a lovely compact Show Off Forsythia, a hardier selection that offers twice the goal without a plan is just a wish. Raised in the West Genesee flower buds of the old one. Every bud School District on Onondaga Hill ‘s flowered this year. The plant will max clay soil, my horticultural life began out at 4-5 feet so think of all the other watching my MIT-educated, electrical things I can do with that extra time engineer father at the kitchen table instead of the yearly haircut. I get excited about not having to as he meticulously planned his yard and garden on paper every spring. do a task I dread. It makes my whole He carefully considered a variety of body happy. That’s what plants should options long before he purchased a do for you. This is the 42nd year I have been helping people plan their single plant. Back then, there were precious landscapes. If you are not sure where few options. In 1964 we piled into to begin, let’s get together and plan our ’57 Chevy wagon and purchased some great improvements for your three Lynwood Gold Forsythia plants. yard. I can help you put some pep in We placed them in the pre-selected your step this spring. locations where we could enjoy their flowers. My brother and I helped dig holes, adding compost to each planting Jim Sollecito is the first lifetime senior pit, knowing that organic compost in certified landscape professional in NYS. He the ground is the very best thing for operates Sollecito Landscaping Nursery in Syracuse. Contact him at 468-1142 or at your plant. If the winter was harsh there were

Social Security


Q: A few months after I started receiving my Social Security retirement benefit, my former employer offered to take me back. It’s a great offer. Can I withdraw my retirement claim and reapply later to increase my benefit amount? A: Social Security understands that unexpected changes may occur after you begin receiving retirement benefits. If you change your mind, you may be able to withdraw your Social Security claim and re-apply at a future date. This withdrawal must occur within 12 months of your original retirement, and you are limited to one withdrawal during your lifetime. Keep in mind, you must repay all of the benefits you received. You can learn more about the one-year period when you can postpone your benefits at withdrawal.htm Q: I am receiving Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. I just got married, and I am wondering if my benefits, and my new spouse’s benefits, will stay the same. A: If you marry, your spouse’s income and resources may change your SSI benefit. It is your responsibility to report your status change to Social Security as soon as possible. If you and your spouse both get SSI, your benefit amount will change from an individual rate to a couple’s rate. If you are receiving Social Security benefits as a widow, divorced widow, widower, or divorced widower, other factors to keep in mind are: • You cannot get benefits if you remarry before age 60; and • You cannot get benefits if you’re disabled and remarry before age 50. Generally, your benefits end if you were receiving divorced spouse’s benefits and you remarry. You can read more about SSI and Social Security benefits at our publications library, available at

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April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS




When to Retire? Experts: what you should consider before applying for Social Security benefits By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


hould you collect Social Security early or wait until 70? It may seem an easy question to answer, but it’s actually a lot more complicated. Clark Gronsbell, owner and broker at Fiscal Fitness in Syracuse, wants people approaching retirement to “look over all the considerations,” he said. One of these is money. “When we’re looking at taking it early, versus taking it full, let’s say at 62, you could draw $2,000 and deferring, $2,500. That’s a $500 differential per month, or $6,000 a year.”


55 PLUS - April / May 2015

If you lived until 95, which isn’t all that uncommon anymore, you’d lose $150,000 total. As for his own situation, Gronsbell, 59, doesn’t plan to take early Social Security. As he approaches retirement age, it’s a decision he’s mulling over these days. “My work provides me with all the income I need right now, so my decision right now is to defer that and take the full Social Security at age 66,” Gronsbell said. Waiting can significantly raise his Social Security income. Though the “full retirement”

4 x 4.75” - 55+ magazine age ranges from 65 to 67, taking it as early as 60 (for qualifying widows and widowers) means receiving less overall. But for some, taking the benefit earlier makes more sense if they have current financial needs or other immediate uses for the money. “You might want to take that money now and invest it or help a family member,” Gronsbell said. Making the decision also depends upon how much money the person needs for retirement month-by-month. “When it comes to financial planning and retirement planning, people get hung up on needing a certain dollar number [overall], but what you should look at is what do you need per month and what will provide that monthly income?” Gronsbell said. How long you’ll need that monthly income also makes a difference. Consider family health history and your current health. If the odds are in your favor for a long life and you don’t need the money now, waiting can make plenty of sense. Lee Allbright, CEO of Allbright Asset Management, Inc. in Fulton, is a chartered financial consultant, and registered investment adviser. He advises many people to wait. “ W h a t I re c o m m e n d i s f o r those who maximize their 401k or investments to resist the urge to take the money as soon as possible,” he said. “If people have siblings and parents who died young and they’re not taking care of themselves, they should take the money and run. Social Security is of course, complex.” Allbright said that some people opt for early retirement because they fear that Social Security won’t be available long enough for them to collect all of the benefit due to them. Allbright disagrees. “The most responsible resources I’ve read say Social Security can be fixed with a few simple tweaks, like an increased percentage of income going to Social Security,” Allbright said. “The current Social Security fund is funded by government securities. They are sound. We have never defaulted but returns are far lower than could be.” Since numerous claiming options exist based upon age and marital status, talk with a qualified financial adviser who works on a fee basis before making changes to your retirement plans.


Live and Play

Debby Coble has lived in Liverpool since 1978 and enjoys walks with her family in Onondaga Park.

Reimaginations April 12, 2015 @ 2:30PM St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral Stefan Sanders, conductor Peter Rovit, violin

Mahler’s Fifth May 9, 2015 @ 7:30PM Crouse-Hinds Concert Theater David Loebel, conductor Jon Nakamatsu, piano

Animated Orchestra

Variety Show May 30, 2015 @ 6:30PM The WCNY Broadcast and Education Center Symphoria ensembles and musicians

April 18, 2015 @ 10:30AM Inspiration Hall, 709 James St Heather Buchman, conductor Holly Adams, narrator


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? e n o y n A , Tai Chi Peggy Liuzzi started tai chi 14 years ago as a way to strengthen her knee and hips. She said she found the practice so enjoyable that she is now studying to become an instructor. She practices at the Taoist Tai Chi of Syracuse studio in Eastwood.

Syracuse resident enjoys the practice so much she’s becoming an instructor By Mary Beth Roach


eggy Liuzzi took her first tai chi class 14 years ago as a way to help her cope with the arthritis in her knee and hip. Today at the age of 67, the Syracuse resident is learning to be an instructor. “I needed to find something that helps with the flexibility and strengthen my knee and hip,” she said, during a break from her Monday evening class at the Taoist Tai Chi of Syracuse studio in Eastwood. She has found a lot of relief through the practice of tai chi, she said. The local chapter is part of Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA and practices a modified form of the Yang-style tai chi developed by Taoist monk Moy 14

55 PLUS - April / May 2015

Lin-shin in Canada. Tai chi means “grand ultimate boxing,” and is said to have been created by a Taoist monk in China about 800 years ago. Master Moy Linshin has attempted to make a form of holistic health training that works on the physical, mental and even spiritual aspects of the students. It focuses on a series of slow and precise body movements aimed at making the body and the mind stronger and relieving stress. Because the practice also enhances balance and body awareness, the National Institute of Aging has found that it can significantly cut the risk of falls among older people.

Each set consists of 108 movements, with a significant amount of stretching and turning — all designed to provide a full range of motion, which improves the overall functioning of the joints, tendons and ligaments. The beginning session runs 12 weeks and focuses on learning the basics and the sequence of the 100-plus movements, and then refining them. Learning and recalling the movements — whose names go from Carry Tiger to Mountain and Go Back to Ward off Monkey — can help benefit one’s memory abilities. While the program is noncompetitive, Liuzzi said, the students are always striving to perfect their

movements. “A bigger stretch, more balance, more grace, more fluidity,” she said. “You’re always working toward an ideal, and it’s immersing.” For those who might feel uncoordinated and are hesitant to try tai chi, the students encourage them to try a class. “I was one of the worst students when I started,” said Tom Wahl, 66. That was 16 years ago, and a couple of years after he started, he became an instructor. “Everyone learns at their own pace, and there’s no test at the end,” he said. The classes, Liuzzi noted, are very diverse. While the students tend to be older — from their 40s to their 70s — they are very different bodies and very different abilities. But the instructors care about the students’ skill level, she noted. Calling it “walking meditation,” Wahl said that tai chi makes one more aware of their body, and as a result you get in better shape. There are some misconceptions

about tai chi, according to some local instructors. “One is that we’re a cult,” said Carmiel Kapilla. Another is that special clothing, such as long, white flowing robes, and special shoes are required, Liuzzi said. Not so. The students in one local class were dressed very comfortably in jeans sweaters, and flat shoes. Aside from the physical and meditative aspects of the practice, Liuzzi said, tai chi also supports the idea of humility, of taking care of others, and of giving back to the community. To those ends, the classes have a social aspect to them, with gettogethers like the pot-luck dinner to celebrate Chinese New Year this past February, and they have also done book drives to benefit the community. The local group offers beginners and continuing classes along with open practices at its location in Eastwood. Other programs are offered in Cazenovia and Skaneateles. For those interested in learning more, visit

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Tom Wahl has practiced tai chi for the last 16 years. “Everyone learns at their own pace, and there’s no test at the end,” he says.

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profile Dr. Trust was named Upstate Medical University’s Pediatrician of the Year in 2013.

The Trust Factor 78-year-old pediatrician brings old school knowledge to new age problems By Lou Sorendo


ormally, physicians in their late 70s are kicking back at their winter home while enjoying the benefits of retirement. N o t s o f o r S t u a r t Tr u s t , a pediatrician who heads Pediatrics Associates of Fulton. He’s just catching his second wind. Trust said he is far from done. He has had a private practice in Fulton since 1974. “I like what I do and I’ve got an awful lot on my plate,” he said. “We’re working on some projects that I’ve been excited about for quite a while now.” With a new associate pediatrician on board, Trust will be freed up to attend to some of these special projects. Pediatrics Associates of Fulton


55 PLUS - April / May 2015

recently added pediatrician Carla Overton to its ranks. The new associate attended Cornell and John Hopkins universities, and also worked for Teach for America. “It’s good for a pediatric person to be involved outside of your own practice,” he said. “You can do just as much good being involved in the community and you can influence more people through advocacy.” When Trust first began practicing in the 1970s, the biggest issues he faced when caring for children were infectious diseases. This was made challenging by the absence of immunizations and antibiotics which are on hand today. Most of his career was spent in caring for children with diseases such as meningitis, sepsis and certain types

of pneumonia, or illnesses such as the measles, whooping cough and mumps. “There is a tremendous shift now,” he said. “The major causes of death among young people are car crashes, drug overdoses, suicide and homicide.” With more of these non-medical type issues to content with, Trust and his pediatric group intend on offering intervention and remediation services within area school districts. Trust met recently with leaders of the Fulton City School District in efforts to broaden the outreach efforts. The Brooklyn native said if the endeavor is successful in Fulton, it will expand to include other school districts in Oswego and Onondaga counties. “We haven’t even scratched the surface” when it comes to advocacy

and outreach efforts, Trust said. “We have young kids who are drug-addicted and alcoholics. It’s so different,” he noted. “We have young people who have no one to talk to and are confused regarding issues such as sexuality and gender.” Trust said there still are infections to deal with, as evidenced by the recent media-hyped enterovirus D68 and the measles outbreak in California. “We even have people call about Ebola believe it or not,” he said. He said skin infections are prevalent, normally in the form of MRSA. Over half the abscesses he treats are MRSA-based.

He said hospital-acquired MRSA cases are a lot more serious than those acquired in the community. Trust also observed that over the last 15 to 20 years, respiratory illnesses and allergies have run rampant, with many causal agents in play. “There is more asthma and allergies and there are technical as well as environmental reasons for that,” he said. Back in the 1970s and through the early ‘90s, a child diagnosed with leukemia was facing dire circumstances. “Now, it has absolutely reversed,” he said.

“While it is still a horrible disease, the vast majority of children not only live but live well,” he said. He just recently attended a party for a 5-year-old boy celebrating the end of three years of chemotherapy to successfully treat leukemia. “You hardly ever see a diabetic child have to be admitted to a hospital in crisis,” noted Trust, adding that the type of insulin, pumps and electronic innovations have had “incredible positive results.”

On top of his game Trust keeps mentally sharp by teaching.

Emails, Online News OK; Texting, Facebook Not So Much Veteran doctor navigates cyberspace By Lou Sorendo


ediatrician Stuart Trust has a flip phone and does use email and reads news online. That’s as far as it goes. Texting is out of the question, said Trust of Pediatric Associates of Fulton. Trust, 78, has been practicing in Fulton for more than 40 years. “Medical students and residents all have their smartphones and access to information instantly. I really think that is terrific. I make fun of it, but respect and admire it,” he said. His granddaughter made an effort to get him involved on Facebook given the thousands of people he has encountered in the Army, medical school and throughout his practice. “They haven’t been a part of my life” so why start now? Trust replied. “I don’t Facebook, Google or tweet, but the advances are phenomenal,” he said. Trust’s office is in the process of converting to an electronic medical records system, and in the meantime, Trust still relies on handwritten communiqués. At Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse, there are no paper charts and Trust has learned to navigate the

system. “The goal of it is to cut down on errors, make things more accurate and have information available on a widespread basis,” he said. “But it hasn’t been a complete success,” he said. “There are physicians, hospitals and groups who feel it has been a costly failure, but I think the consensus of opinion believes it is just a work in progress.”

The good and the bad “The vast majority of pediatrics is fun and games. You are interacting with beautiful, funny and charming children along with delightful parents,” he said. “A small amount is very difficult and tragic. It is a microcosm of life.” Trust characterizes himself as a spiritual person, but does not see himself as religious. “So many religions exclude billions of people,” he said. “I have great respect for religious people and people who are really good, inclusive and who are positive while trying to do their best,” Trust said. “I don’t respect religious structures that feel they are the only ones that have the answer.”

“I do know in my heart that there is something beyond us. I absolutely have no question, based on my personal life. I know from the very fibers of my heart that there is something beyond us,” he said. “I’ve seen enough science that was thought of as science that turned out to be witchcraft,” he said. “I know enough scientists to see their flaws plus I also know many great scientists who are very religious people.” Trust was named Upstate Medical University’s Pediatrician of the Year in 2013. He is the only physician who has received this award five times since it was established in 1973. He was a chief resident of the department of pediatrics at SUNY Upstate Medical University in the 1970s during the tenure of Dr. Frank Oski, who Trust characterized as “the god of pediatrics.” Trust was teaching in the pediatrics department at Upstate when state funds dried up and he took on a new pediatrics post at A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital in Fulton. It was only supposed to be for a year, but turned into 40-plus years. April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS


“We are the most sought-after off-site pediatric practice that SUNY Upstate Medical Center has. Medical students and residents have to line up to see which ones get here,” he said. “You learn from teaching.” Every Wednesday morning, Trust is at the medical center in Syracuse to take in a lecture as part of his continuing medical education. “Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and then you realize how little you know,” he said. Trust adheres to a strict diet. “I don’t want any illness that could have been prevented by lifestyle,” he said. His cholesterol and sugar numbers are low and his electrolytes are normal. “I eat oatmeal every single morning,” he said. “I never eat cheeseburgers and very rarely eat beef,” he said. “Of course, I fail with sweet stuff.” He used to be an avid runner and swimmer, but now he focuses on just staying active and walking his dog. Trust said genetics plays a huge role in longevity. “I have horrible genes in my family. Everybody in my family has either died of cancer or has

had various cancers, including me. It’s the preventable stuff I strive for,” said Trust, noting he was a former smoker. “I try to lead a healthy lifestyle but some things you can’t help,” he said. “You can’t choose your parents.” Trust said he doesn’t have to retire to do the things he wants to do. “If I want to go on vacation, I go on vacation,” he said. Trust doesn’t have any items on his “bucket list” with the exception of a visit to the Imperial War Museum in London. “I came from such an impoverished, poor background that I’m so grateful for what I got and what I can do,” he said. An avid reader, Trust also enjoys his summer home and kayaking. He served in the U.S. Army from 1959-1965 in the medical supply corps and also was a pharmacist in the ‘60s in Queens. His daughter is Anneliese Trust, who is the reigning Miss Flower City (Rochester). Trust has experienced tragedy is his life. His son Eric passed unexpectedly at the age of 19 due to a heart condition.

Lifelines Birth date: Oct. 1, 1936 Birthplace: Brooklyn, NY Current residence: Syracuse, NY Education: Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy, Long Island UniversityCollege of Pharmacy, (1953-1957); graduate work, Columbia UniversityCollege of Pharmacy (1957-1958); medical degree, College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, Des Moines University, Des Moines, Iowa (19671971); residency, St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, Syracuse (1971-1972); residency, Department of Pediatrics, SUNY Upstate Medical University (1972-1974); chief resident, Department of Pediatrics, SUNY Upstate Medical University (1973-1974) Affiliations: Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics; Onondaga County Pediatric Society; diplomate, American Board of Pediatrics Personal: Wife Dorothy; sons David and Eric; daughter Anneliese Hobbies: Reading, kayaking


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my turn

By Bruce Frassinelli Email:

My Wife Marie


‘The emotional, life-and-death roller coaster we had ridden for nearly three years had ended in sadness and disappointment’

he column I wrote about my wife Marie’s struggle with stage four ovarian cancer in early 2013 was euphoric. She came through a near-death experience nine months earlier, underwent surgery and, in the fall of 2012, was declared cancer-free. Shortly after I wrote that article, the cancer returned. Three months after the good news, in January of 2013, the CA-125 marker, which tracks the presence of cancerous tumors, started to climb, slightly at first, then more rapidly. When she was first diagnosed on Valentine’s Day 2012, the reading was 10,500 — normal is 35. By mid2014, the reading was more than 4,200, and by Oct. 17, it had gone to more than 11,000, the highest ever. The cancer was spreading exponentially, her oncologist Marie and Bruce Frassinelli


55 PLUS - April / May 2015

said. A month later, the number doubled to nearly 23,000. There was nothing more that chemotherapy or modern medicine could do. Marie had received seven different types of chemotherapy and had been in the hospital for various treatments 14 times over a 34-month period. A second opinion, first from Fox Chase in Philadelphia, then later from Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in New York, confirmed the findings. Marie wanted to die at home, so she and the family agreed that the time for hospice care had come. A hospice representative met with us on Dec. 4, 2014. A month and a day later, on Jan. 5, 2015, Marie took her last breath. She was 72. The emotional, life-and-death roller coaster we had ridden for nearly three years had ended in

sadness and disappointment. Now we are left with memories. There were some poignant moments along the way: When clumps of hair started to fall out from the chemo, Marie asked her son, Mike, on the first day of spring 2012 to cut her hair in our garage. There she was, wrapped in a garbage bag to keep the hair off her clothes, with Mike buzzing her hair as if she were a new military recruit. Her hair began to grow back after the final original chemo treatments. She bought a wig, but hated it; for awhile, she wore a baseball cap when she went out in public, but then that independent spirit that she had shown through this entire ordeal took hold, and she decided to wear nothing on her head. It’s funny how that head of frizz became a symbol of her determination to beat this grim reaper. Her grandchildren would rub her head for good luck and laugh, saying it reminded them of a teddy bear. As we look back on this incredible, improbable odyssey, we are amazed at the support system of family, friends and acquaintances who called, visited, sent letters, flowers, Mass cards, curing oils and other expressions of love, hope and caring. Her children, brothers, other family members and friends would sit with her for hours, day in and day out during those dark days in the hospital and at home before the end came. They gave reassurance, and, most of all, never gave up hope for a miracle, but there was to be none. Marie had been on the prayer list of at least a dozen churches in the Oswego area, where we lived for 16 years, and in Pennsylvania. The daily phone calls and cards

propped up her spirits when she needed it most. Every day when I brought in the mail, she would ask expectantly, “Any cards for me?” Each day there were at least three or four. The transformation as she read the cards aloud was instantaneous. We are still in shock that this insidious disease made such quick work of her after it returned with a vengeance. When we were told in the fall of 2012 that Marie was cancer-free, we vowed that we would never take a day, even a minute, of our lives for granted again. We knew there was a possibility that this would happen, that life is fragile and given to us for an undetermined period of time. We cherished her for a little more than two years after we had received that good news. The oncologist thought she had five to eight years, maybe more, but the villainous cancer had other ideas. Marie’s goal was to make it to Christmas Eve, a traditional event at our home where we celebrate the feast of the Seven Fishes and 13 Dishes. Twenty family members gathered, and although Marie could not prepare any of the dishes, as she had done typically, she supervised the event, chopped some vegetables and even ate a little of the meal. Afterward, we opened gifts, and she read love letters from her sons, her grandchildren, her brothers and me. We all wanted her to know how much we loved her, how much she has meant to us and how we will always cherish her memory because of the way she had touched us in so many special ways. Tears flowed endlessly during this very emotional evening. We knew it was to be the last group farewell, and we made the most of it. Marie’s legacy will be the determination and grace she showed in the face of unspeakable pain and suffering. On those rare occasions when it appeared as if she could not go on, she remembered the legion of supporters who were counting on her to rise above the discomfort and live as normal a life as possible. When she did this, her voice got stronger, her eyes sparkled, her smile returned. She was back in battle mode. She fought the best fight, right up until the end.

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y in Their 70s and

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55 PLUS Issue 56 April / May 2015

For Active Adults Area York in the Central New

John Spillett, r of Music Educato 4, the Year in 201 ic, Mus ut Abo s Talk Teaching



ran of Camillus never Maryann Roefaro she 53. Then, at 55, until she turned marathon. Now she completed her first word about Chi the wants to spread d adopte she que Running, a techni


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Jack Skillman at his house with a throw made for him and his late wife Doris showing many of the plays they have worked on.

Jack Skillman: The Force Behind the Onondaga Hillplayers Theater group raises money for the Marcellus and Onondaga Free libraries By Debra J. Groom


he old adage “the show must go on” means a lot to Jack Skillman. When the Onondaga Hillplayers lost their venue, it was Skillman who found a new site. When the community theater group needed a new director, it was Skillman to the rescue. In fact, when any problem crops up during the Hillplayers annual productions, Skillman is ready to conquer it with vigor — which is saying a lot for a man of 90 years of age. Skillman, of Onondaga Hill, is in his 54th year with the Onondaga 22

55 PLUS - April / May 2015

Hillplayers, joining the group in 1960 with his beloved late wife Doris. He is the producer for the Hillplayers’ dinner-theater’s five performances at Sunset Ridge Golf Club in Marcellus. “ We w e re d o i n g ‘ T h e M a n Who Came to Dinner,’” Skillman remembered of his first foray into theater. “I had a very small part as Doc, and Doris was the femme fatale of Lorraine.” Skillman, an insurance man, and Doris, who worked at Onondaga Community College, had no training in theater and hadn’t been in plays during high school in Queens back in

the 1940s. But the fun and thrill of the theater drew them in. “It was fun,” Skillman said. “The first time we did it, there was a certain feeling about it — you’d walk out there and have an audience in front of you. It was very rewarding.” Through the decades, the pair did just about everything that needed to be done to put on the yearly Onondaga Hillplayers performances. “I did a lot of acting and backstage work,” Skillman said. In 1987, the theater group changed from presenting a play to a dinner-

theater. At about this time, Skillman — at about age 63 — became producer, taking on all the logistical challenges of putting on the show each fall. “I am in charge of putting everything together,” he said. “I have to get the dates at the golf course, get the director. In late spring, we start thinking about a show to do. I have to get all the people together to put up the set and pick up the risers and flats. I have to check with the golf course people on the menu. “I’m always dealing with and talking with people,” he said. “I’m as busy as heck.” “I first worked with him in the mid-’90s,” said current director Robert Steingraber. “He was the producer, but also played a cop at the end of the show and had to arrest me. I was always afraid Jack wouldn’t have the key with him [to get me out of the handcuffs].” Skillman is extremely personable, loves to talk and knows hundreds of people from his years in insurance, theater and work at the Onondaga Hill Presbyterian Church. Others in the theater group say he treats everyone fairly, but expects everyone to do their jobs. “There are a lot of people who are staunchly loyal to him,” said Steingraber. “He is good at rallying them and is so good at drawing people in because he is so enthusiastic.” The Onondaga Hillplayers dinner theater shows — which raise money for the Marcellus and Onondaga Free libraries — are usually comedies or farces. Skillman said people going out to dinner don’t want to think about a heavy drama or work through a complex plot. He said they want to laugh.

Morrison called Skillman a worrier, but he disagrees. He said he doesn’t worry, he is simply concerned. Concerns, he said, can be solved with thought. “There are always challenges, always differences,” Skillman said. “But if it was frustrating, then why do it?” Skillman grew up in New York City and met Doris when she walked into his French class as a new student. “I was sitting there bored out of my mind and in walks Doris. I perked right up then and there,” he said. French class was still boring, he said, but seeing Doris made it tolerable. They married when they both were 22 after Skillman spent two years as part of an engineering company in the Army during World War II. They eventually settled in the house on Onondaga Hill in 1957 and have two grown children – John G. Skillman of Florida and Sarah Snider of Syracuse. They were married 65 years before Doris died in March 2012. Skillman never thought a minute about giving up the theater work after his Doris passed away. “We worked so well together,” Skillman said. “She would want me

to keep going.” Today, Skillman is on his third venue and fourth director since taking over the producing duties. He regularly keeps in touch with everyone to be sure everything is falling into place. “He’ll call you to ask ‘how’s it going? What’s going on,” stage manager Morrison said. “He’s not a nitpicker as long as everything’s OK,” Steingraber said. And according to Skillman, everything’s usually OK. He couldn’t recall a single show in which something has gone wrong. “When you see one of our shows, it’s pretty perfect,” he said. His favorite was “Love, Sex and the IRS.” Now that he’s 90 (he turns 91 April 21) , Skillman has slowed a bit — he doesn’t come to as many rehearsals as he used to. He loves to go on cruises and has traveled to many parts of the globe. He also is an enthusiast of radio -controlled airplanes. But he still is producing the dinner theaters and is still in charge. “We give the audience a nice, fun evening,” he said. “It keeps me going. It’s been great – that’s all I can say.”

Never giving up “I dread that phone call I get from him early each year,” Steingraber said, jokingly. “He starts pestering me in February about what play we’re Play “Suitehearts” produced by Onondaga Hillplayers in November. The cast, from left, is going to do.” Justin Zehr, Bridget O’Brien, Karen Alexander and John Seavers. Stage manager Nancy April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS

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Spring has sprung and so have allergies


ere are tips from American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) to help you find relief and enjoy spring. The feel of cotton — For allergy suffers, not all clothing materials are created equal. Research shows that when synthetic fabrics rub against one another, they create an electrical charge that attracts pollen, which, as it turns out, is also electrically charged. Natural fibers such as cotton also breathe better, so they stay drier and less hospitable to moisture-loving mold. Adjust your workout routine — After months indoors, you can’t wait to exercise outside. However, exercising causes you to breathe more deeply and inhale the pollen that affects your allergy symptoms. Exercise outdoors when pollen counts are at their lowest — before dawn and in the late afternoon or early evening. Garden smart — Think your spring allergies are going to force you to quit gardening? Think again. Taking an antihistamine about half an hour before you head outside will help. You should also wear gloves and a NIOSHrated 95 filter mask if your tasks including digging in the dirt, which can stir up pollen. Avoid touching your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands, hair and clothing once you go back indoors. Take something a little stronger — Over-the-counter intranasal steroids (nasal sprays) as well as non-drowsy antihistamines and decongestants can be beneficial for those suffering from mild allergies. However, people suffering from more severe allergies will benefit from seeing an allergist. Eliminate uninvited guests — You can make your spring allergies more bearable by limiting your exposure to indoor allergens. Vacuum your furniture, leave your shoes by the door, shower frequently, cover your floors with washable throw rugs and use a dehumidifier to limit your mold exposure. All of these steps will help, and look for a good air purifier with a HEPA filter.



Sex Aging


Study shows many in their 70s and over 80s still very active sexually By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


hen it comes to sexuality, apparently age is just a number. A recent study shows that people 70plus enjoy regular intimacy more than researchers anticipated. Most “senior” studies on sex look at people 60 and older. But “Sexual Health and Wellbeing Among Older Men and Women in England” focused on people in their 70s and over 80. The University of Manchester and NatCen Social Research team found that 54 percent of men and 31 percent of women over 70 were still sexually active, and one-third of those men and women have sex at

least twice a month. Further, the study revealed that among the 7,000 respondents, 31 percent of men and 20 percent of women frequently kiss and cuddle. And only 1 percent of men and 10 percent of women felt that sex was just a duty. The results don’t surprise Sharon Brangman, geriatrician with SUNY Upstate Medical Center. “It’s a myth about aging, a stereotype, that older people don’t have sex,” Brangman said. “It may surprise some, but people remain sexually active well into older age. It’s

just not talked about and not realized because the focus is on youth. Older people are active into 80s and 90s.” Institutions such as nursing homes have begun making internal changes to accommodate spouses, since more couples live into their senior years together. “When I first started my career, it was an issue for a married couple admitted to a nursing home,” Brangman said. “A couple had to have separate rooms and now they share a room and have private time.” Though physical impairments inherent to older age can require April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS


accommodation during lovemaking, couples in retirement have more time to spend pleasuring each other without the responsibilities of younger adulthood. William Hall, geriatrician with University of Rochester Medical Center, said that “finding a partner” is the “only barrier” for older adults desiring intimacy. “In retirement communities, it’s a pretty hot place,” he said. T h e demographics of a retirement community means that numerous unattached, retired people live in close proximity. Brangman Though younger people may think it’s peculiar (since their parents or grandparents are the ages of the people in the study), desiring sexual intimacy “is part of

what it means to be human. I can’t imagine successfully aging without intimacy,” Hall said.

STD on the Rise A current 70-year-old came of age in the 60s. A widow or widower returning to the “free love” philosophy from their teenaged years can contract a sexuallytransmitted disease. Jody Martin, a supervising public health nurse with the Oswego County Health Department, said that although most people who call the office requesting tests for STDs are younger people, “anybody can get STDs if they have unprotected sex,” she said. “Our STD rates have gone up a lot in the last couple of years overall.” With more time on their hands and the fact that many people 70-plus are widows or widowers, STDs among this age group are on the rise. “The kids are gone, risk of pregnancy is over, but there’s still a

risk of STDs,” Brangman said. “Older people can still get them. I’ve seen it even if they don’t have a spouse. I’ve provided medical care in retirement communities in Florida and it doesn’t take long to find a girlfriend.” Many people in this age range feel embarrassed about getting the straight story from their doctor on STDs or other sexual matters. But Brangman wants both medical providers and seniors to speak frankly with each other. “I’m not sure how that generation approaches it because it was not talked about and sexual activity wasn’t discussed when the older seniors were young,” Brangman said. “The advent of Viagra has helped older men keep sexually active into their 70s and 80s. These conversations weren’t necessary years ago.” Though it may seem awkward discussing sex with someone young enough to be the patient’s child or grandchild, Brangman said, “all members of the health care team are very professional and can handle just about every situation a patient can present.”

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Dig the Gig

Music educator of the year spreads joy through his saxophone in CNY By Lou Sorendo


usic is one of the most beautiful, powerful, and positive forces on earth. Native Syracusan John Spillett, one of Central New York’s most versatile professional saxophonists, lives by these words. “Music touches people spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally, and cognitively,” Spillett said. “I love music and have been blessed with a career that allows me to teach and perform my passion. I am extremely grateful to God, my parents and all my teachers for this great gift.” Spillett, 60, last year received the 2014 Syracuse Area Music Awards (SAMMY) Hall of Fame Music Educator of the Year Award. He was band director at Solvay High School, where he taught instrumental music for more than 30 years. His high school concert band and jazz combo received numerous local, state and regional awards for musical excellence. Spillett also mentored more than 30 student teachers from Syracuse University, Ithaca College and SUNY Potsdam and helped develop the instrumental music program at Le Moyne College. “My main goal and purpose in life has always been to glorify God and to be a positive influence in the world,”


55 PLUS - April / May 2015

he said. “I believe that God allowed me to achieve this goal by giving me a successful career as a musician and music educator. The 2014 SAMMY Hall Of Fame Music Educator of the Year Award is a validation of this.” “As a band conductor, the most gratifying aspect was hearing the high level of music-making that the students achieved, seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces and feeling the same sense of pride and accomplishment that they all felt,” he said. As a music educator, Spillett said it wasn’t just about getting top awards and gold ratings. “The greater goal was to participate in educational music festivals that provided our students with educational clinics,” he said. “These afforded opportunities for constructive criticism and for continued learning and growth.” Despite being retired as a public

school music educator, Spillett remains active as a freelance saxophonist, bandleader, adjudicator, and private saxophone instructor.

All that jazz Jazz is unquestionably Spillett’s favorite genre of music. “Jazz allows me the greatest freedom for musical expression, creativity and use of my imagination through improvisation,” he said. Spillett relishes the opportunity to play jazz standards from the Great American Songbook. These include the compositions of Burt Bacharach, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Lerner and Lowe, Henry Mancini, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Rodgers and Hart, and Jimmy Van Heusen. “This is some of the greatest music ever written,” he said. He also delves into the Latin music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, Carlos

Santana, the music of Italian jazz composer Bruno Martino, as well as the classic jazz compositions of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Jimmy Heath, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker and the pop tunes of Marvin Gaye, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Grover Washington Jr., Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Although jazz is his favorite music to play, he enjoys performing a wide spectrum of other musical styles that include Latin, pop, rock, rhythm and blues, blues, funk, ethnic, sacred, gospel and classical. “I believe the saxophone is the one wind instrument that best transcends all these musical genres,” he said. Throughout his life, Spillett was exposed to a diverse musical palette that included many different genres. “As a kid, I remember lying in bed late at night with the ear plugs to my transistor radio in my ears and falling April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS


asleep while listening to jazz, pop, Motown and classical music,” he said.

Musical mind Spillett grew up singing hymns in the Catholic Church. At Bishop Ludden High School in Syracuse and later with the St. Cecilia Players and Pompeian Players, he was exposed to music of the great composers of Broadway show tunes. Spillett was involved as a pit band musician and actor in several Broadway musicals, including “Brigadoon,” “Guys and Dolls,” “Music Man,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” “Carousel” and “Grease.” At Syracuse University, Spillett earned a Bachelor of Music degree in music education with performance honors in saxophone. He performed in the jazz ensemble, wind ensemble, marching band, and saxophone quartet. Ironically, Spillett came to SU as a scholarship football player. Instead, he opted to study classical saxophone with a master saxophone teacher, the late Norbert Buskey. “He was my most influential saxophone teacher and deserves full credit for helping me develop my classical saxophone playing to a high

level while in college,” Spillett said. At Northwestern University, Spillett earned a Master of Music degree in saxophone performance, where he studied saxophone with Frederic Hemke, one of the world’s premier classical saxophonists. In the early 1980s, he formed his own wedding/party band. “This required me to become a proficient performer of a wide spectrum of musical styles,” he said. In the 1990s, Spillett did postgraduate work at the Eastman School of Music where he studied saxophone with noted jazz saxophone professor Ramon Ricker. During this time, he began performing weekly at his church, Holy Family in Fairmount, with talented pianist Michael Vetrano. This experience gave him more exposure to sacred, gospel, classical, and holiday music. It also improved his sight-reading, transposition, improvisation and aural skills and inspired him to form a Christian music duo. “The ability to perform many different genres of music has been essential to my success as a musician and music educator,” he noted.

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As a musician, Spillett has performed at over 2,000 professional engagements of all kinds. “I do run into people all the time that tell me I played their wedding reception or party 20 or 25 years ago and how great it was,” he said. “This is very gratifying.” However, Spillett’s musical performance priorities have changed since then. For the past 15 years, he has primarily focused on playing jazz and an occasional private event. “As an aspiring jazz musician, I realize that playing jazz music on a high level is a constant artistic challenge and lifelong pursuit,” he said. With the help of some outstanding teachers — including Joe Riposo and Rick Montalbano — Spillett’s jazz improvisation skills have steadily improved. “My main musical goal is to keep listening and learning, keep practicing, keep playing jazz gigs and keep getting better,” he said.

Jazzy combos Spillett has two different bands that both play jazz. Both groups have

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a sax/piano duo as a core. The first group is the John Spillett Jazz Band (duo, trio or quartet). This group primarily plays instrumental jazz standards from the Great American Songbook. The second group is the John Spillett Jazz/Pop Band (duo, trio or quartet). Anchored by pianist-vocalist Tom Witkowski, this group plays jazz, pop and rock covers, mixing instrumentals with vocals. Spillett manages the bands and enjoys doing it. “It was a lot harder in the past when I was managing and booking a six piece wedding-party band as my main focus,” he said. For the last 15 years, he has primarily focused on booking his two jazz bands. “Most of my gigs now are duos, with a few trios and quartet gigs, so it’s a lot easier to manage,” he said. “I have five fantastic jazz pianists that I work with so I’m always able to cover the gigs with excellent musicians.” Spillett plays with a rotation of piano players that include jazz standouts Montalbano, Dino Losito, Andrew Carroll, Dave Solazzo,

and band partner of 23 years Tom Witkowski. “I’m involved with booking the gigs and the musicians to play with me, deciding what tunes to play and doing gig publicity and promotion,” he noted. The two jazz bands combined have been averaging more than 100 gigs per year over the last several years and Spillett is expecting the same number of gigs again this year. In addition to performing in his own groups, Spillett also performs as a sideman. Some of the most memorable bands that he has played with include two national acts: The Temptations at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, and Bobby Rydell at the New York State Fair. Also memorable for Spillett have been many local groups that he has played with, including the Central New York Jazz Orchestra, Salt City Jazz Collective, Mario De Santis Orchestra, Stan Colella Orchestra, Jack Kreischer Orchestra, Syracuse New Music Society, Syracuse Concert Band, Dunes and the Del-Tunes, Four on the Floor, Alibi, The Don Martin Duo, Todd Hobin, and Ronnie Leigh.

“As a jazz musician, my goal is to continue to improvise creative, interesting melodic lines and to perform high-level music that touches people in a positive way,” he said. “I would like to make at least one quality music recording in the future.”

Lifelines: Birth date: Dec. 18, 1953 Birthplace: Syracuse Education: St. Charles Borromeo Elementary School and Bishop Ludden High School, Syracuse; Bachelor of Music Education degree with performance honors from Syracuse University; Master of Music degree in saxophone performance from Northwestern University; postgraduate work at the Eastman School of Music, studying jazz saxophone and jazz improvisation Personal: Sister Marydee, Syracuse; brother David, New Port Richey, Fla.; girlfriend Kathy, Skaneateles Hobbies: Spending time with family and friends; traveling and going to county and state parks and the Finger Lakes; follow Syracuse University sports

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The Art of Running Maryann Roefaro started running at the age 53; two years later she participated in her first full marathon. Adept to the technique of Chi Running, she has now become a running and walking instructor By Suzanne M. Ellis


aryann Roefaro had always wanted to be a runner, but for most of her life, it just wasn’t in the cards. When she turned 53 a couple of years ago, she did some serious soul searching about her physical well-being. “My mom died from complications of brain surgery when she was 53, so I was very excited to turn 53,” said Roefaro, of Camillus, the chief executive officer at HematologyOncology Associates of CNY. “I thought a lot about how I have worked so hard all my life on being a mom, on my education, on my career, but I had never pushed myself physically,” she said. “There just wasn’t a lot of time for me before I turned 53 so when I did, I asked myself what I could do to celebrate this beautiful life I’ve been given?” Running came to mind, but so did her age and the fear of injury. “I could never run more than a mile, and when I did run I worried that something would happen to my knees or there would be other injuries,” she said.” I had never heard of Chi Running (pronounced “chee”), but it’s a technique — influenced by the art of t’ai chi — where the focus is on injury prevention and energy efficiency. It 32

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focuses on correct biomechanics and teaches you how to use every body part the way it was created to be used,” she said. “The human body was born to run, and if we have the proper form, it’s something we can do well into our older years.” In January of 2013, Roefaro was doing online research to explore the form of elite runners, and she happened upon a video of Danny Dreyer, co-creator of the Chi Running and Chi Walking techniques. A few months later, she took a four-day class with Dreyer, and she was hooked. “Once you get the hang of it, Chi Running is just this beautiful rhythm of fluidity,” she said. In October of last year, at the age of 55, Roefaro ran in her first marathon, finishing the 26.2-mile Wineglass Marathon in Bath, N.Y. in 4:29:17, a very impressive time for a newbie. Prior to that, she competed in July of 2013 in the Boilermaker Road Race in Utica, a distance of 9.3 miles and the farthest she had ever run. Next came the 13.1-mile Empire State Half Marathon in October of 2013, which she completed in one hour and 58 minutes, finishing 15th out of 72 women in the 50-54 age group. Her pace was 9:03.

In all of her training and racing thus far, Roefaro hasn’t had any injuries. And her recovery time after the Wineglass Marathon was “phenomenal,” she said. “In Chi Running, you lift your ankles and not your knees,” she explained. “You don’t come down on your heels, which weren’t created to take that magnitude of force [which] resonates from the heels to the knees and all the way to your hips. That can create so many issues for runners’ feet, knees and hips.” In a conventional, heel-striking stride, Roefaro said, runners are “opposing the forces of gravity.” In Chi Running, the entire foot strikes the ground rather than just the heel. Dreyer, who is also the author of “Chi Running: A Revolutionary Approach to Effortless, Injury-Free Running,” said in his blog that he believes in Chi Running because it’s pretty much injury-free and isn’t dependent on what people are wearing on their feet. “Good running form ... allows you to run the most efficiently, given all your speed, distance and performance goals, both immediate and longterm, for the span of your lifetime,” Dreyer said. “Some people, even many doctors, believe that people

Maryann Roefaro, 55, nears the end of her first marathon, which she completed in October of 2014 at the Wineglass Marathon in Bath, N.Y. "This picture was probably taken at the 25-mile mark," Roefaro said. "At that point, I knew I wasn't going to qualify for Boston [Marathon], so I slowed down and was just running happy."

Maryann Roefaro, right, celebrates with her daughter, Angela Franz, at the finish line after completing her first marathon in October of 2014. She finished the 26.2-mile race in 4 hours, 29 minutes, 17 seconds. "It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, to put myself out there, to put so much of my heart and soul into something and make it."

Shouting for joy, 55-year-old Maryann Roefaro crosses the finish line after the completion of her first marathon in October of 2014. Roefaro took up Chi Running at 53 and has since completed a 5K, a 15K, a half-marathon (13.1 miles) and the 26.2-mile Wineglass Marathon in October. "I was crying and screaming at the finish line; that was raw emotion," she said. "It was so emotional." April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS



cover Maryann Roefaro, Chief Executive Officer for Hematology-Oncology Associates of CNY since 2002, at her office in East Syracuse.

are born with a given way of moving which they cannot change much, if at all. These same people say that some people are designed from birth to be good athletes or not to be particularly athletic. I happen to believe you can make substantial changes in your body and how you move, no matter what kind of a body you were given at birth,” Dreyer said. “With practice, you can change your running form forever.” A one-year study of unning styles, released in 2012 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, concluded that “Chi Running may be a desirable alternative running style for a runner with a history of lower extremity over-use injuries or someone who desires to reduce potentially injurious forces on the lower extremities.” Roefaro was so taken by this method of running and her success over the past two years that she became a certified Chi Running instructor in December. She plans to teach classes this spring, and she is also certified in Chi Walking. She has Reiki and 34

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hypnotherapy practices, and she is a published author working on a second book, all in addition to her very fulltime job as a CEO. She’s also married with two adult daughters and two adult stepsons, yet even with all those demands on her time, she usually gets “a good seven or eight hours of sleep every night.” It’s all a matter of establishing priorities, Roefaro said. “I don’t sit down much, and I don’t watch a lot of television,” she said. “There really are a lot of hours in the day if you use them wisely.” Roefaro has already registered for the Chicago Marathon on Columbus Day weekend in October, a race that annually draws about 45,000 runners. “I love running,” she said. “You clear up a lot of things in your head, and it’s very meditational. I believe that with Chi Running, people will be able to run well into their mature years. I’m going to just keep going and see how long I can do it.” Anyone interested in more information about Chi Running or the classes can email Roefaro at

Her classes, she said, will cost approximately $125 for a four-to-fivehour session. Roefaro hopes to have her Chi Running website, www.SoulRunner. us, ready to go this spring.

Lifelines Date of birth: June 2, 1959 Birthplace: Utica, N.Y. Current residence: Camillus, N.Y. Education: Bachelor of Science degree, Albany College of Pharmacy; Master’s Degree, Upstate Medical University; Doctor of Divinity, American Institute of Holistic Theology Family: Husband, Tom Carranti; two daughters and two stepsons. Hobbies: Running and reading. Last book read: “Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness” by Scott Jurek Honors include: MS Resources of CNY, 2014 “Crusader for a Cure” award; The Business Journal’s “Women in Business” award, 2007; Association of Fundraising Professionals’ “Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser,” 2006.



Automatic Date Reminders Make Life Easier As number of grandchildren and appointments grow, having a way to keep track of all that can be a great help By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant


eed help in keeping track of birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates in your family? As grandchildren and greatgrandchildren multiply, it gets even harder to remember when to send greetings and gifts. Relax. There are apps and websites for that, too. “We’re moving towards an ‘app society’ where any sort of additional tips and helps we can use in our busy lives are absolutely worth it,” said Lani Camp, public relations assistant, at Center for Instruction Technology and Innovation in Mexico, Oswego County. “An Outlook calendar reminder can help you, so if you didn’t want an app, you can set up reminders that way, too,” Camp added. But if you want to go with an app, you have plenty of choices, from simple to complex. One such app is Birthday Reminder (iPhone, free). You can import dates easily from Facebook, contacts, or manually. It includes 35 free electronic birthday cards, which is a pretty good assortment for a reminder app (some offer just three). Birthdays for Android (free) also lets you import easily, and automatically erases duplicates.

The app lets you text or tap to call the birthday person. The app also backs up the info externally so you won’t lose your data. Overall, it’s a basic app that’s easy to use. Another of these is EverMinder (, free), which allows only the members you select to know other members’ birthdays and receive notification of such. The optional gift registry and links ordering makes birthdays a cinch for grandparents that don’t live close to their grandchildren. You can select or de-select reminders, so if your low-key son-in-law really hates receiving reminders he’s another year older, you can remove the reminder, unlike with social media platforms such as Facebook. Tick Tock Task (iPhone, $.99) operates as a general reminder app. If you program all your family’s birthdays in it, they stay put for next year, too. Plus, you can use it for one-time reminders such as appointments. It’s streamlined and doesn’t offer too many options, which can get confusing. Yet, one can also customize it by color for urgency and with icons to make the user experience as unique as you. Reminders (iPhone, preprogrammed) seamlessly updates all devices using Calendar, Outlook, and iCloud, which is

a plus if you use a tablet, laptop and phone, for example. Jerry Taylor, owner of SeniorTech in Macedon offers technology lessons throughout Central New York. He said he and his clients “like the basic calendar” inherent to every cell phone. Although they may not have as many customizable features, they’re free and can help people unfamiliar with electronic reminders get the hang of it before investing effort or money in a reminder app.

Try these tips for effectively programming an electronic reminder:

• Don’t delete perennial reminders; just turn off the alarm. • Allow enough advance notice for the reminder to actually help you, instead of the day itself. • Personalize it in a way that makes sense to you. If you choose an alarm sound that’s the same as your ringtone, you may disregard an important reminder. • If friends and family don’t want to sign up for a group reminder app, don’t push it. You can still remind yourself of their special day on your phone and send greetings. April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS


aging By Marilyn L. Pinsky

Learning From Retirees


What they do with their time, how they like retirement, what they miss about work

any people plan carefully for their retirement years. They figure out their financial needs, have a retirement age in mind and a specific game plan. Others just relish the thought of no alarm clocks and lots of leisure time to smell the roses and clean the closets. I spoke to four people and asked what they are doing with their time and what advice they would give to those contemplating retirement.

Auxiliary Bishop Thomas J. Costello The catholic priest who worked as auxiliary bishop in the Diocese of Syracuse knew when he reached the age of 75 that he had to submit a resignation. “The Vatican accepted it quickly but my local bishop did not, so I worked for five years after that.” By then Costello had developed an official bucket list. “My first concern was my spiritual well being. Before I retired I unfortunately found myself too Costello busy to pray, so my first resolution was to pray better and to pray more. A second concern was my physical well-being and I made the resolution to lose some weight and get into the gym. I accomplished both of those resolutions.” “Third was my intellectual wellbeing. Like most of us, I had a pile of reading next to a chair and never got 36

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to it. Unfortunately, that resolution ran into a major complication. Because of the need to develop some computer literacy, I find I’m spending time on the computer that should be spent reading. So those two agenda items are in conflict with each other.” Another item on the bishop’s list was to get a house he owned ready to be sold. “That turned out to be no small task,” he said, “but I’ve done my part and now I’m waiting for the market to respond.” His last resolution is one I think we should all do: plan his funeral. “That task,” he related, “is half done.” Is there anything you miss about working? “I suppose having my hands in; I go to the office once or twice a week and every now and then I’m asked to do a mass.” As for advice to for others planning for retirement? “Enjoy it. You’ve earned it.”

Elbridge Councilor Robert Decker Robert (Bob) Decker is a town of Elbridge councilor. I asked how he would describe his present status vis a vis retirement? “I would use the work ‘active’ to describe my status. I retired twice. The first time after having worked at the Social Security Administration for 30 years, and again after I spent five years at BNY Mellon where I met many new friends. Then I really retired and ran for office and was elected Decker

in 2013.” Had you given thought to what you wanted from retirement? “Yes. I knew I didn’t want to have to be somewhere at 9 o’clock every day and that I wanted to have time to look out my back window and take pictures of the animals and birds. But to a large degree I still continue to set goals for myself — even if those goals are just cleaning the house, mowing the yard, painting rooms or whatever has to be done.” Did you bring the same interests with you into this new life or did you seek to reinvent yourself? “I keep reinventing myself. I always enjoyed golf and sports but I find that different ages create different levels of interest. I play more golf now and watch less football and car racing. But I still can’t quite run a marathon.” What do you miss about working? “In a good work environment, and I had several of those, there is a sense of camaraderie and I do miss that. But I’m thrilled that through Facebook I’m able to keep up with 10 people from both jobs whom I might have lost touched with. We don’t necessarily talk but we keep up with each other’s lives. Then, when we run into each other at the mall, it’s as if we haven’t lost touch.” As for advice to others, Decker said, “though I’m not the first to say this, it’s true: ‘Get up every morning and put your pants on.’”

Teacher Sue Friedland Sue Friedland took early retirement from teaching elementary physical education in 1998 because of health reasons. “When I thought about what I might do in retirement, I thought it would be fun to deliver paychecks or possibly flowers. Once I actually

was retired, I never re a l l y p u r s u e d either job.” “ I d i d , h o w e v e r, h a v e several wonderful jobs: teaching senior water aerobics, case manager working with adults with a mental health diagnosis, and Friedland the last job I had was with the Syracuse University School of Education. I was a student teacher supervisor working with student teachers in their classroom assignments. I have also served on many boards. After 10 years of regular work day schedules, I decided, it’s time to really be retired. No more boards, or working every day.” “Since then I’ve done some wonderful traveling, some good work volunteering, just doing things I’ve always wanted to do as well as not doing anything at all.” “But the best time I’ve spent in retirement was the seven years I volunteered with my certified pet therapy dog Annie. We visited at least six or seven different places on a regular basis. We saw people in many local nursing homes, hospitals, school and libraries. Annie and I were one of the few select pet therapy teams allowed to visit Crouse’s Oncology and Pediatric Units, also Upstate’s Intensive Care and Rehabilitation Unit.” “At the patient’s request and with the doctor’s approval, Annie brought joy and a bright moment — very often a smile — to so many hospitalized folks and their family members as well.” “Annie was also a certified reading dog. In this program conducted through local libraries and some schools, kids having problems reading would read aloud to her at public libraries or their schools, sometimes leaning against her like she was a big pillow.” What are the things, if any, that you miss about working? “I did miss being in a school and I missed the whole community of a school environment. When I realized that, I started subbing on a regular and daily basis. I subbed in many different schools and made some wonderful

friends. I am very thankful for that experience. And what advice do you h a v e f o r o t h e r s p re p a r i n g f o r retirement? “People ask me all the time — if they stop working, how will they fill their time? My answer is that you can do whatever you want. You will be so surprised at how quickly your days will fill up. You can do something or you can do nothing. I pick one day a week, Monday, and do absolutely nothing; I don’t do anything where I have to leave my house. So my advice is to make sure you treat yourself to at least one day a week of full retirement. You’ve earned it and you certainly deserve it.”

Former Syracuse China CEO Charles S. (Chuck) Goodman

E v e r y o n e t a k e s a d i ff e re n t approach to retirement and for this former president/CEO of Syracuse China, the focus has been on travel. His advice is one that everyone with a partner should heed carefully. Did you have thoughts on what you would do when you retired? “Yes. There were two things that were important to Karen, my Goodman. wife, and me. My job involved long hours and much traveling and Karen was very involved in the community, so between the two of us, there were times when it was difficult to get together. Spending more time together was a top priority for retirement. I had always wanted to retire early and was able to do that when I was 61.” “Some people love golf and they move to golf communities, or they’re boaters, but for us it was travel. We had always wanted to travel together but when you’re working, that’s not so easy. Our major goal was to travel all over the world together and we’ve done that. There was no preparation; we’d just go down and buy a ticket.”

“Your spouse is a 100 percent partner, so you need to be sure you’re on the same page before you make some major decisions. If you are both golfers or boaters or travelers, that’s great. But figure it out in advance.” Charles S. (Chuck) Goodman Former president and CEO, Syracuse China Did you bring the same interests with you into this new life or did you seek to reinvent yourself? “No, no reinventing me, as Karen would attest to. It’s always been travel. In the early ‘70s we went to Iran, so it was in our blood. The Shah was in charge and they loved Americans. We just got on a plane and only had two hotel reservations, but other than that, we would just find a place. We would get up early, fly to another city and spend the day there. You still had to be careful; in Egypt we had an armed security guard on the bus, but it wasn’t like it is today.” “Since retirement we have had two or three major international trips a year, but in between we would go to Vegas, Florida and drive all the major highways East and West and then North and South across the states. Then we did ‘best barbecue’ and ‘best lobster’ trips. And we have seen all the national parks. Having seen a lot of the world, I can safely say see the United States first as this country has more than any other country has — it is spectacular to see this country.” What are the things, if any, that you miss about working? “The intellectual excitement about working that goes on all the time — thinking about the business, making plans, solving problems.” Next issue: Retirement Part Two. April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS


consumers corner By Eva Briggs, M.D.

Electronics: a future treatment for immune disorders


hen most people think of reflexes, they imagine a doctor tapping a knee w i t h a l i t t l e ru b b e r hammer causing the patient’s leg to jerk. But there are many other reflexes coordinating our body’s actions. This enables us to perform everyday activities without consciously thinking about what every muscle or internal organ is doing. For example, when you run to answer the doorbell, you don’t have to think about coordinating your breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure. Reflexes work when a sensory nerve cell (neuron) detects a stimulus. It sends an electrical signal to an interneuron in the spine or brain. The interneuron sends a message back down a motor neuron to the organ that needs to be regulated. There is a gap between the neuron and its target organ. The final signal that crosses the gap is not electrical, but chemical. The neuron releases special chemicals that connect to receptors on the target cells to change their function. Many drugs also work by latching onto specific cell receptors. But once a drug enters one’s body, it might react with receptors on cells other than the intended target. The result is unwanted side effects. Wouldn’t it be desirable if there were a way to send a signal to a specific nerve to stimulate it to produce more (or less) of the body’s own neurotransmitters in the precise location and amounts needed? This would reduce the chance of side effects. S c i e n t i s t s h a v e d i s c o v e re d that there are reflexes mediated by nerves that affect the body’s immune function. Ultimately this may lead to totally new ways of treating immune disorders, harnessing these reflexes with bioelectronic devices.


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The discovery came about by chance when scientists were studying ways to treat strokes. One type of stroke causes brain injury by a blocking the blood supply to an area of the brain. The brain is damaged not only by the lack of circulation, but also by inflammatory chemicals called TNFs (tumor necrosis factors) released by injured brain cells. These TNFs spread the damage to adjacent brain areas. Scientists studying a drug called CNI-1493 found a surprising effect. They expected that injecting the drug into the brain would block TNF produced after a stroke. That happened but — what they weren’t expecting — was that TNF production was turned off in organs throughout the body. Even very tiny quantities of CNI-1493 in the brain, amounts too low to reach throughout the body, had this effect. How could this be? Perhaps the drug stimulated the pituitary gland to produce hormones that spread to the body via the bloodstream telling other organs to stop making TNF. But even removing the pituitary gland of their lab rats didn’t stop CNI-1493 from halting TNF production. Acting on a hunch from other research, they wondered whether the vagus nerve could carry a signal to various body organs, controlling TNF production. The vagus nerve starts in the brain and travels to various internal organs. The scientists tried cutting the vagus nerve at different levels. Sure enough, any organs beyond the cut point were not affected when CNI-

1493 was injected into the brain. This demonstrated that the vagus nerve was carrying the signal from the brain to the body. Many organs, like the spleen and thymus, have nerves that carried signals toward the brain. This discovery completed the circuit needed for a reflex controlling inflammation. The signal travels on nerves from internal organ, to the brain, then back down the vagus nerve. But how is this useful to patients? An overactive immune system producing too much TNF causes many autoimmune diseases. Such illnesses include rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. In recent years a variety of new drugs have been developed that block overproduction of TNF. These drugs are life changing for many patients, but they are expensive and have potentially life-threatening side effects. What if sending electrical signals to the vagus nerve could turn off TNF production? It works in rats, but can it work it humans? Doctors in BosniaHerzegovina decided to try it. The new TNF blocking drugs are too expensive for use there. Their first patient was a man disabled by severe rheumatoid arthritis that didn’t respond to other drugs. The bioelectronic vagus nerve stimulator was a success. The patient returned to an active life. The device helped six of the eight people tested in that initial experiment. It’s not available for widespread use yet. But perhaps in the future, bioelectronics devices connected to the vagus nerve will provide relief for patients at a lower cost and with fewer side effects than current treatments. Eva Briggs is a medical doctor who works at two urgent care centers (Central Square and Fulton) operated by Oswego Health.

Cole Porter’s Anything Goes Comes to Syracuse


he national tour of “Anything Goes,” the new Broadway re v i v a l o f C o l e P o r t e r ’ s timeless classic musical theater masterpiece, will make its Syracuse premiere at 7:30 p.m. April 28 – 30 as part of the Famous Artists Broadway Theater Series. Winner of the 2011 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, “Anything Goes” sails to Oncenter Crouse Hinds Theater under the direction of Sean McKnight and Jennifer Savelli. McKnight and Savelli will recreate the original direction and choreography by Kathleen Marshall, who won the 2011 Tony Award for Best Choreography. Based on Roundabout Theatre Company’s production, The New York Times calls it “a zesty new revival with knockout numbers and white-hot dancing” while the Assocaited Press exclaims that it’s, “so delightful, so delicious, so de-lovely!”

Cole Porter’s roundup of nostalgic hits in the production include “You’re the Top,” “Friendship,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “It’s De-Lovely,” “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” and, of course “Anything Goes.” “Anything Goes,” the 1934 musical comedy about the lovers, liars and clowns on a transatlantic cruise, is “a daffy, shipshape romp,” according to Variety. When the S.S. American heads out to sea, etiquette and convention head out the portholes as two unlikely pairs set off on the course to true love, proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from a crew of singing sailors, an exotic disguise and some good old-fashioned blackmail. “Anything Goes” features music and lyrics by Cole Porter; original book by P.G. Wodehouse and Guy Bolton , and Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse; and new book by Timothy Crouse and John Weidman. The

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creative team includes music direction by Robbie Cowan with additional orchestrations by Bill Elliot, original scenic design by Derek McLane coordinated by James Kronzer, original costumes by Martin Pakledinaz coordinated by Jimm Halliday, lighting design by Anthony Pearson and sound design by David Bullard.

If You Go

Tickets priced at $32, $47, & $62 are available at the Oncenter Box Office, 435-2121; Famous Artists, 424-8210; and Ticketmaster, 800-7453000. For more information visit Y94 FM and WSYR News Channel 9 sponsor the Famous Artists Broadway Theater Series.

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April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS


life after 55 By Michele Reed Photographs by Bill Reed

1-Euro Time Travel


oday, Feb. 12, I sat in the 14th century window seat of the Queen of Majorca. I crossed the floor of her private apartment at the Chateau Royale, patterned with red brick and dark green glazed tiles, put my bottom right where hers would have sat and looked out her window at the royal view of the Mediterranean facing south toward Spain. I wondered if she watched out for ships attacking by sea or if she was homesick, as the court travelled among several castles such as this one, here at Collioure, in the South of France. We toured the 7th century fort, the 13th and 14th century castle complete with royal apartments, chapel and parade ground, and the 16-17th century fortifications including those by Vauban, on whose theories our own Fort Ontario is patterned. At

one point Majorca and Aragon were one kingdom. So there is a distinct possibility that Ferdinand and Isabella, the monarchs of Spain who sent Columbus out on his voyage that found America, could have visited here, walking the corridors we were walking and sleeping in rooms through which we wound our way. In 1642, while under Spanish control, this very castle was captured by French Musketeers including one Captain d’Artagnan, made famous by Alexander Dumas. I had thought Bill and I would be visiting a little museum and we would wander around looking at a few tame exhibits, but no! We climbed from subterranean passages to the very top of Vauban’s ramparts hundreds of feet above the Med’s blue waters. We wandered through the cavelike

The Chateau Royale at Collioure in the South of France, where Bill and Michele Reed climbed to the very top of the walls. 40

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Editor’s Note: Oswego residents Michele and Bill Reed have returned to the South of France, where they have been spending their winters exploring the possibility of retiring abroad. In a series of articles, they take readers along on their journey, sharing the ups and down of senior expat living. tunnels with slots for firing muskets in Vauban’s design, then climbed upward and back in time as warfare changed and the fortifications changed with it. We stood outside the square medieval tower, pierced with arrow slits. Later, Vauban surrounded it with earthen banks and walls angled to deflect the cannonballs that would have burst through the square walls with ease. At every level I gasped at the beauty of the view and at the heights to which we had risen, and yet, we kept going upwards until we were atop the great ramparts. The restaurant where we had just lunched at the harbor looked like a tiny dollhouse with its blue painted shutters and yellow stucco walls. Bill pointed out the colorful flags that fly from the peak of the castle walls. They seemed so high and far away while we were below, but at the castle’s top, we were at eye level with them. We were above the level of the windmill, the Moulin, to which we climbed last year and Fort St. Elme, atop a peak of the Pyrenees, was just a little higher than we were. At the beginning of our ascent,

the smell of the sea was fishy and green, but as we climbed the wind blew away the harbor smell and we breathed in the fresh salt tang of the water. The gusts became stronger the higher we climbed until I had to tie my scarf tightly around my neck for fear of losing it out to sea. My hair pulled out of my ponytail in wisps that buffeted my face. Part of the climb had stout iron railings, cemented into the walls. At other times, it was a chancy handhold along rough medieval walls, grasping the stones and mortar with my fingertips and palms, imagining knights with mailed hands steadying themselves the same way. In a number of places we were able to touch the wooden medieval doors, studded with iron nails. One door was open and I was shocked to find that the wood was thicker than the entire length of my hand! In some places the ground was neatly paved with flagstones and in others, the rough cobbles made a bobbly foothold. It was a beautiful sunny day, but it isn’t hard to imagine how treacherous these same stones would be, drenched with a heavy seaside rain under a buffeting tramontane wind, both for the armored feet of the knights and the hooves of their horses. Now this castle is a 1-euro, 15-minute bus ride to the south of our little village. We’ve been to Collioure better than half a dozen times, for many lunches, a climb to the windmill, a visit to the modern art gallery and a walk out the narrow breakwall to a massive cross of Christ on a rocky promontory looking out toward Africa. We had admired the castle but until recently didn’t even know it was open to the public. We had slept in today, making a late start of it, while we watched the French news channel BFM-TV, the equivalent of our CNN, as we drank hot coffee and munched a leisurely breakfast of toasted baguette and honey. We left our house at 11:55 a.m. to catch the bus across the street from our house, enjoyed a lunch of succulent grilled shrimp, scallops and squid caught that morning as we sat beside Collioure’s harbor enjoying a glass of red wine and a steaming cup of café crème, then strolled over a wooden bridge to the castle. We were surprised

by free admission, perhaps because it is French school vacation. After our exploration of the castle, we caught the bus back home, arriving by 4 p.m., just in time for a walk up to the café for coffee, tea and a chance to check our email with the WiFi. The 1-euro bus is the expat adventurer ’s best friend. For the equivalent of $1.25, we took a magical trip back in time to when the kings and queens of Majorca made our winter refuge their summer retreat.

About the author and photographer: Michele Reed retired after a career spanning four decades in public relations, advertising, journalism and higher education. She now writes travel articles, book reviews, haiku poetry and fiction. Bill Reed retired after four decades in social services with the County of Oswego, and now works at travel photography and photojournalism, along with writing book reviews.

Michele Reed explores a subterranean tunnel, pierced with slots for firing muskets. The tunnels were designed by Vauban, whose ideas inspired Fort Ontario. April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS




Women Log Nearly 20,000 Hours as Volunteers One of the volunteers at Upstate at Community General hospital has been on the job since the hospital was built in early 1960s By Matthew Liptak


Olga Williams is 92 years old and has volunteered at Community for 37 years, racking up 9,367 hours. “Knowing you’re helping people out — getting them to the right places at the right time for their doctors’ appointments, you just get friendly with people and talk to them and hope that you’re making them feel pretty good,” Williams says. 42

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pstate University Hospital at Community General has at least two remarkable volunteers. Between the pair they have logged almost 17,500 volunteer hours since the creation of the hospital in the early 1960s. Muriel Diefendorf is in her mid-80s and she has volunteered at Community since it was built in 1963. Since then she has committed at least 8,048 hours of volunteer service to the hospital. Olga Williams is 92 and has volunteered at Community for 37 years, racking up 9,367 hours. “Best choice I ever made,” said Diefendorf of her decision to help the hospital. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. The years just go by too quickly.” Like Diefendorf, Williams has been a long-time resident of the Valley, the Syracuse neighborhood nearest the hospital. For the women, it is only a short drive from their homes to their volunteer positions. The 92-yearold’s son drives Williams to the hospital for her four-hour shift every Tuesday. A coworker takes her home. Diefendorf works the main desk morning till noon on Thursdays. She answers the phone and helps with discharges. What she enjoys most about the position are the different people she works with. “The people that you work with are all wonderful,” she said. “I’ve been lucky to have a shift that every one of them are real good friends. The one’s that have

“Best choice I ever made,” says Muriel Diefendorf of her decision to become a volunteer at Unpstate University Hospital at Community Genral. She started her job when the hospital was biuilt in 1963

Muriel Diefendorf is in her mid-80s and she has volunteered at Upstate University Hospital at Community General since it was built in 1963. “Best choice I ever made,” she says of her decision to help the hospital. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. The years just go by too quickly.”

left, moving out of town, come right back to see what’s going on. [They] wish that they were here still volunteering too.” The former home-economics teacher joined the hospital volunteers when a woman from her church, who knew a member of the hospital’s founding board, recommended her for a position. Originally Diefendorf worked as a play lady for the pediatrics unit. It wasn’t a good fit. “Whenever they’d come in to get the kids to take them for surgery, the kids would be sobbing,” she said “I’d be sobbing. This is too emotional. I can’t take this.”

She moved to volunteer as a nutritional counselor for a little while and then found her way to the main desk, where she is now. Diefendorf also worked on the hospital’s auxiliary board for eight years because she was chairwoman of the volunteer services committee. She said she got her grandchildren to fill in for her at times when she was out. The experience even got one of her granddaughters, Claire, interested in pursuing nursing as a career. “The oldest one is now in med school,” Diefendorf said. “He was the first and then Claire is a senior in high school.

She wants to be a nurse.” Williams also works at a desk— the desk at the diagnostic center. “I take the phone calls from the doctors’ offices,” Williams said. “I [refer] volunteers who work there to go up to the doctors’ offices to pick up patients and [take] calls from outside patients who want a wheelchair to take them up to the doctor’s office. People come in and want the admitting office and I call the admitting office to tell them that somebody’s there. It isn’t an awful lot. I used to do wheelchairs too, but I don’t do too many of them. On occasion I do a wheelchair down to endoscopy if a patient’s outdoors.” The mother of seven said it doesn’t seem that as many people are volunteering these days. The youngest person she works with at the desk is 67. She finds the work rewarding and, like Diefendorf, recommends it to others. “Knowing you’re helping people out — getting them to the right places at the right time for their doctors’ appointments, you just get friendly with people and talk to them and hope that you’re making them feel pretty good,” Williams said. “I enjoy going and they tell me I act young so I’m happy with that. The people I work with still call me the boss.”

For more information on volunteering at Upstate at Community General hospital, call volunteer director Kristin Bruce at 315-492-5060. April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS


golden years By Harold Miller

Florida: Y’all C’mon Down


hose who regularly read this column know that Janet and I spend the winter months in Florida, and once during the season I do an article on tidbits about the Sunshine State. Native Floridians are a different breed from the rather reserved (by comparison) Upstate New Yorkers. They think different, they act different and they sure-as-hell drive different. My definition of a Florida split second is the time lapse between when the light turns green and the guy (or gal) behind blows his (or her) horn.

Young women are more impatient, and drive faster than men. Most use only the gas pedal and the horn to navigate traffic. On the other hand they have reason to be frustrated by the elderly snowbirds half of whom can’t see too well, and the other half can’t hear too well. Most of the natives get uptight when all they see is a pair of hands on the steering wheel of the car ahead. They call us senior’s “blue hairs.” Floridians are more laid back than us “northerners” (said with a little disdain in their voice). Most Floridians who run their own business will take

Friday afternoon off to go fishing (you can tell by the fishing pole racks mounted on the back widow of their pickup trucks). The busiest traffic time is Friday night because everyone is carousing. You can’t get a seat on a barstool anywhere. Janet and I decided to go out to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day. We left early in order to get a table. After more than an hour we returned to our apartment, after visiting several restaurants — all of which were minimum hour-long waits. As nearly as I can tell no one in Florida dines at home. One of my favorite pastimes

Jupiter Inlet near Palm Beach 44

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is relaxing in my easy chair and reading the morning paper with a cup of cappuccino. There is almost always a front page headline about the crippling snowstorms up north, and that gives you a fuzzy feeling as you see the brilliant sun rising over a warm ocean. This alone justifies the price of admission for spending the season down south. We reside in south Florida where the daytime temperature averages 75 degrees in the winter months. The ocean temperature also averages 75 degrees. Florida weather has been the driving force for the tourist trade as well as the real estate and rental markets. In a word, Florida is booming. A recent survey, which was published in the last issue of 55 PLUS magazine, indicates that six out of 10 retirees from New York state will leave the state and most of them will move to Florida where the population has increased nearly 10 percent last year alone. Florida has now displaced New York state, whose population has shrunk 5 percent in the last 15 years, as the third largest of the 50 states. Perhaps the greatest advantage of living in Florida during the winter months is being outdoors and exercising every day. Beyond this is the advantage of not having to drive on slippery roads. Oh, and daylight is more than an hour longer during the winter season. My wife walks an hour almost every day and I ride my bicycle to a nearby gym for morning exercises. Swimming and beaching is also part of our daily routine as is soaking up the natural vitamin C. Caution: many of us have developed skin cancer and now we slather on sunscreen, wear widebrimmed hats, and limit our time in the bright sunshine. It is estimated that retirees may expect to live 10 or more years longer by partaking of the Florida lifestyle, which produces less colds, a stronger immune system, and better mental health. This fact alone justifies the investment in Florida real estate. America is unique in all the world in that the upper-middle class can afford a vacation home that doubles as a winter retreat. Also, many Europeans have residences in Florida. Most of the who’s who of the world come here to play and recreate during the winter months. Many own their own homes. All in all if you wish to enrich your life ya’ll c’mon down to join us.




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druger’s zoo By Marvin Druger

My Pathway to Online Dating


t has been one year since the death of my wife, Pat, my dearest partner and friend. I have experienced the grief of losing a loved one, and the emptiness and loneliness have not gone away. Everyone grieves such a loss in his/her own way, but many of the feelings are universal. I believed that “real men don’t cry,” but I found this wasn’t true. I cried all the time. I tried to keep very busy and I’m involved in many activities, but the in-between times are difficult. I decided to attend a support group at hospice. It was an unusual experience to be talking to people who had all lost someone dear to them. I tried to cheer everyone else with my jokes and I even distributed articles and poems. It made me feel good to see people enter the room with gloomy expressions and leave joking and laughing. I even counseled the grief counselor after her father died. She said that she hates when someone says, “I’m sorry,” since that brings a flood of emotions. I told her that it was just that people don’t know what to say in such situations. After the session, I hugged her and said, “I’m sorry,” The sadness turned to laughter. After a few sessions, I decided that a support group wasn’t my thing. I had a few one-on-one sessions with a grief counselor, but soon abandoned this to brave out the grief on my own. My family was very supportive. My daughter and sons contacted me every day, and I received an abundance of affection. I think that giving me such affection was part of their grieving process. It was also a recognition that no life lives forever and that I was also on the list to pass away. My feelings have been very mixed. To this day, I still can’t accept the fact that Pat is gone. Writing articles and poems about her have proven to be good therapy to help ease the 46

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pain. I like solitude, but loneliness is different. I wrote this poem to express this thought:

Loneliness and Solitude I enjoy solitude, It puts my mind at ease, I can have private thoughts And think anything I please. But loneliness is something else, It makes me very sad, I long to be with someone But there’s no one to be had. Solitude and loneliness Are not always apart, I can enjoy my solitude And be lonely in my heart. When people are around, My solitude is gone, I talk and laugh and joke, But loneliness lingers on.

A few months after Pat’s death, I received a phone call from a female acquaintance. “Can I drop into your house to share a glass of wine?” “Sure. You can even have your own glass of wine,” I replied. We had a few hours of conversation and it made me feel better. I even took her out to a movie and dinner. After the movie, I mentioned, “Pat always sat on my right in a movie, and you were sitting on my left.” This comment bothered her. It soon became apparent that I was just going through the motions, and she felt uncomfortable. She felt she was dating a married man. When I told my granddaughter about this “date,” she was upset.

“Grandpa, it wasn’t a ‘date.’ You just hung out with her. You have your family.” I said, “Yes, I think it was a ‘date.’ The family relationship is not the same.” As the months passed, I tried to develop a new attitude and two thoughts became prominent in my mind. I hope these thoughts may help others in a similar situation. First, I tried to convince myself that Pat would not want me to be sitting in the house grieving all day. She would want me to go on with my life and be happy. She would be angry at me if I just sat and cried all the time. The second thought came as a result of a conversation with the grief counselor at hospice. She told me about a client who had lost her husband several years ago, and men were starting to ask her for dates. The client felt uncomfortable and asked the counselor what she should do. The counselor said to her, “Do you want to be alone the rest of your life?” That comment stuck in my mind. People who have established single lives perhaps don’t mind being without a partner, but, after nearly 60 years of loving, laughing and traveling with Pat, I decided that I didn’t want to be alone for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to get married again, but I would like to have a close companion to share life with. I visited my daughter in Maryland, and my granddaughter was there. She wrote a profile of me and registered me onto an online dating service. She filled out all the necessary details and said, “I didn’t lie about you, but I’m just not saying things about you that people wouldn’t want to hear. I’m making you marketable.” As soon as she finished registering me online, she announced, “Grandpa, I‘m tired. I have to take a nap!” And she immediately lay down on the sofa and went to sleep, leaving me to fend for

myself into the unknown. I sat at the computer thinking, “What do I do now?” I had entered the strange, modern world of online matching and dating. In the next few days, my computer was overwhelmed with messages from women. I was the new face on the block. It was very flattering. I didn’t know that an old man could be so appealing. Or, it may be that the

women were desperate? There was an abundance of photos of women who were seeking a “match.” My daughter was excited about this venture, and she spent time telling me who she liked. I had to convince her that it wasn’t important who she liked. I had to like the person. A few weeks earlier, I did have a “date’ with an attractive widow who was recommended by my yoga

instructor. We went to lunch and the experience seemed a bit awkward. It was the first blind date I had in 60 years. Of course, I mostly talked about myself. I realized afterward that I had found out very little about her. Then, she went to Florida to spend winter, but we have been in contact by email. This world of online dating can be intimidating, but it has been interesting. So far, so many “dates” have been arranged that I will have to take notes at each rendezvous to remember who’s who. Although I know that I will never find another woman as beautiful and wonderful as my late wife, Pat, I may meet someone who laughs at my jokes and is pleasant to be with. I decided to contact two women that seemed to share interests with me. They had used fake names on their online profiles. When I discovered their real names, it turned out that both women were named “Pat.” Is someone trying to tell me something?

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10 Places to Visit in Syracuse City is the hub of Central New York By Sandra Scott


yracuse has been a major crossroads since the early 1800s when the Erie Canal was built — and today, with the intersections of the New York State Thruway and Interstate 81, it still is. Syracuse, a multi-season destination, is the undisputed hub of Central New York with plenty to do within the city and easy access to the wine country in the Finger Lakes; the mountains of the Catskills and Adirondacks; the majestic Niagara Falls, and the romantic 1000 Islands. Here are 10 places to visit in the city. Onondaga Historical Association Museum: The museum is the best starting place to learn about Syracuse, including why it is

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dubbed “The Salt City.” The museum displays highlight of the area’s people, including their role in the Underground Railroad and the various ethnic groups that contribute to the multi-ethnic nature of the city. Other presentations focus on the many innovations that were created by local residents from the Franklin Car to the world-famous Syracuse China. The Erie Canal Museum: To truly appreciate the history of Syracuse the visitors should learn about the Erie Canal days in Syracuse. Sadly, in 1925, the canal was filled it to become Erie Boulevard. The museum is located in the Weighlock building (318 Erie Blvd.), which was built in 1850 so canal boats traveling through Syracuse could be weighed to


determine the amount of their toll. The museum has informative videos and displays, including a weighlock office, a typical tavern and a general store. Arts: The premiere art destination in Central New York is The Everson Art Museum by I. M. Pei who designed the building to be a sculpture unto itself so the art experience starts before visitors even enter. The museum houses a substantial collection of Syracuse pottery by Adelaide Alsop Robineau, one of America’s finest ceramist. In the permanent collection are Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington, Edward Hick’s The Peaceable Kingdom and Eastman Johnson’s Corn Husking. The museum is family-friendly with a special Art Zone where visitors of all


ages can create objects with clay, dress up at a portrait station, and take part in interactive activities. Syracuse is also home to several art galleries including Point of Contact and SUArt on the Syracuse University campus. Performing arts: Theater is live and well in Syracuse. Syracuse Stage offers several Broadway shows along with some premieres. The Famous Artists series also offers Broadway shows in the beautiful Landmark Theater, an ornate, gilded “temple” theater from the heyday of movies. Open Hand Theater is a unique puppet theater that has performances on the stage and in the street along with puppetry classes. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo: The family-friendly zoo is home to more than 700 animals of all sizes from several parts of the world. The zoo is located on 43 acres in Burnet Park, just one of Onondaga County’s several parks. There are birds of all sizes and colors; on the Penguin Coast watch them dive, swim and cavort from the large viewing windows; on the half-mile wildlife trail be on the lookout for wolves, Amur tigers, red panda, bears; and stop to watch the zoo’s biggest animals at the Asian Elephant Preserve. Make it a day adventure by bringing your lunch or dining at the Jungle Café. There are many demonstrations and children activities. The MOST: The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology is another of Syracuse’s great family destinations. Learning is fun. The

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MOST handson exhibits entertain, amuse and teach visitors about the human body, physics, the earth and space. Practice landing an F-16 and guide a plane on the runway of Hancock International Airport. The Science Playhouse m a k e s learning scientific principles fun. The museum is also home to the Bristol IMAX Omnitheater, and the Silverman Planetarium. Sports fans: SU’s basketball, football, and hockey teams, fondly called “The Orange,” are the best known of the many sport teams in the city but it is sports central for all sports. Watch the Chiefs baseball at the NTB Stadium and The Crunch Hockey at the War Memorial. Want to be a participant then grab your golf clubs and head to one of several courses or lace up your running shoes and sign up for one of the several running events. Winter means ice skating in Clinton Square. For foodies: The TV food channels love Syracuse, the home of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and salt potatoes. Salt potatoes have been

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a local favorite since the 1800s when local workers would dump their lunch of potatoes in the briny water during the distillation of salt that was found in the local marshes. For a quick meal visit one of the food trucks. A local brew from Middle Ages or Empire Brewing companies will round out any meal. Sample many local specialties on one of the Syracuse Food Tours. Shopping: Shoppers will find everything they want under one roof at Destiny USA including high-end outlets along with a variety of eateries and entertainment venues. Looking for something special with personalized service then head to trendy Armory Square where people have been shopping since the Erie Canal days. Fairs, festivals, and more: Syracuse is home to the New York State Fair, America’s first state fair. Every month the city is abuzz with a festival from Winterfest to the Taste of Syracuse to a variety of events that feature the area’s multiethnic population. Take a self-guided walking tour of Historic Downtown Syracuse with a downloadable online guide. Enjoy a leisurely stroll or bike along the Creekwalk which extends from the Armory Square to Onondaga Lake. Head to Tipperary Hill, the city’s Irish neighborhood where the traffic light has the green light on top instead of the usual red. For more information check with



April / May 2015 - 55 PLUS




By Mary Beth Roach

Bea Gonzalez, 60 Dean of University College, a division of Syracuse University, she talks about her career, what motivates her, how she’s enjoying being 60 and her plans to become a “looper” Q. What are your duties as dean? A. To provide oversight for all of the programming at University College. I consider University College a unit that works across the life span. We have programming for students as young as the fifth graders at Seymour School all the way to programs for retired professionals. I’ve been 30 years with the university. I started as an academic advisor in 1984. I’m a product of Seymour, Blodgett, Corcoran Schools. I came to University College and have done almost every job. Because I have this penchant for having to understand the big picture of how things work, I quickly began to understand how the work of University College was interrelated to the work of the entire university and to leverage those interconnections on behalf of our community. I’ve worked to bring the resources of the university to the community that I love and I grew up in. That’s always been fun. I thought dean would be the last promotion, and now I’m special assistant to the chancellor, so you never know. Q. What goals did you have when you began as dean? A. For myself, it was really ‘Can I do this’? I had the opportunity to manage budgets and people before, but never on this scale. The key has always been bringing the university to the community, making sure that that happened. Q. What do you consider your biggest accomplishments? A . I think my biggest 50

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accomplishment is always when I meet someone who says, ‘you helped me. University College helped me.’ That’s always to me where I get the greatest satisfaction. Q. There’s a Bea Gonzalez Prize for Poetry given by the local “Stone Canoe” arts journal. Is that named for you? A. “Stone Canoe” was an idea of Robert Colley (an associate dean at University College) at the beginning of my deanship. He came to me with this idea of creating an arts journal that would bring together famous artists with roots in Central New York with up-and-coming artists in Central New York and publish a beautiful journal with the two pieces of work. Poetry has always had a special impact on me. It was my third grade teacher at Seymour, Mrs. Betty Corbett. She taught us a poem by Robert Frost that has been part of my moral compass, “The Road Not Taken.” ‘Two roads diverged… I took the one less traveled and that’s made all the difference.’ Every time I came to a crossroad where I had to make a decision to do something that no one I knew had possibly done, those words were part of the impetus for giving me the courage to go forward. So poetry has always had a little bit of a special meaning to me. And now I’m excited because I finally had the courage to submit a haiku to the Syracuse Poster Contest, and my little poem about the fall — “Fall Breezes” — was selected, and I’ll see a poster with my haiku at a ceremony in April.

Q. What motivates you? A. Part of what motivates me is the need to be a role model. Part of what motivates me is bringing voice to people who don’t have one. And I think, ultimately, it’s the ability to impact change. Q. What’s ahead for you? A. I don’t know. I’m learning every day, and that’s part of who I am. My husband, Michael, and I are talking about what we’re going to do next. We want to do The Great Loop. It’s a 3,000-mile trip that takes you from the Erie Canal all the way down the Intercoastal, across Florida, across the Gulf, up the Mississippi, back to the Great Lakes, and back home. It can take three to six months, but it can take as long as you like. It’s part of a whole community called Loopers. The boating community is a new community to us. We have a boat that Mike refurbished, that we play on to learn. There’s a lot to learn. Q. How about turning 60? A. To me, 60 has been phenomenal. For New Year’s, my best friends and I went up to Quebec to and decided to try dog sledding. That was quite the adventure … a little more extreme than I expected, but I survived. Nothing is holding you in that sled but you. But if you can’t keep yourself in there, you’ll roll out. I’m still young at heart guess. Sixty is the new 40.

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