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Visiting pastor dispenses optimism, along with listening ear BY SUE WEBBER • CONTRIBUTING WRITER Pastor Dan Seidelmann jokes that he has a tape of Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” in his car. Following retirement from 43 years of parish ministry, Seidelmann has spent the last four years as the visitation pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley. The part-time position finds him visiting and bringing communion to Calvary members in care centers and senior apartments across the Twin Cities, parishioners who are hospitalized or homebound, and families in which a death has occurred. He has 55 people on his list to visit each month, Seidelmann said. “Many are still sharp as a tack, and a number are in their 90s,” he said. “It’s really interesting to listen to them talk about their faith lives. It’s a fantastic journey these people have had. It’s fun to ask the right question, and away they go.” He marvels at their resilience, noting that many were born during the Roaring ‘20s, witnessed the stock market crash, experienced the Great Depression and even were affected by the Dust Bowl in the Dakotas. “They learned a lot about family values, the importance and strength of family,” Seidelmann said. “They also learned a lot about people looking out for each other. They paid real attention to who needs help and what they could do to give that help.” Now some of those people find themselves in a whole different world, and in need of help themselves. “Some talk to their children daily, but things are not always exactly the way they’d like it to be,” Seidelmann said. He tries to share some optimism and to suggest a new way of looking at their concerns as opportunities rather than problems. “I tell them if they lived in their own homes, they wouldn’t know or see so

many people each day,” Seidelmann said. “I tell them God is still at work in their lives. That’s part of the joy I find in these visits. It’s been a real blessing to me.” As for retirement, Seidelmann, 73, believes the word is misused. “You take your car to get new rubber and have it retired, but you still plan to go forward,” he said. “I’ve had interesting conversations with people about that. I tell them God put certain gifts in their lives that they use in all their relationships and in the working world. When the working world changes, God doesn’t pull the rug on the gifts. So it’s a matter of figuring out how to repurpose life to still utilize those gifts. That’s opened up a whole lot of conversations.” A native of Rockford, Ill., Seidelmann met his wife, Carolyn, in college. They were married during his internship year. He graduated from Luther Seminary in St. Paul and began his first call as a pastor at a church in Milwaukee. Then followed calls to churches in Hastings, Madison,Wis., Peace Lutheran in Coon Rapids and then Gethsemane Lutheran in Hopkins. As for his conversations with people who have lost loved ones, Seidelmann said, “What a privilege to get invited into people’s lives at their time of greatest need.” He acknowledges that the losses “leave a real hole in their lives.” “But the good Lord gives us windows in our world to gain some insights,” he said. “The good Lord is at work in your life, still developing growth and beauty.” Using a doughnut as an example, he pointed out that most people focus on the hole. But, he said, “What’s around the hole is the part that brings us some joy and nourishment, even though the tastiness doesn’t make the hole go away.” So he tries to help people focus on what they can enjoy as nourishment in their lives, despite the hole they must accept. PASTOR - TO PAGE 5

Following retirement from 43 years of parish ministry, The Rev. Dan Seidelmann has spent the last four years as the visitation pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley. (Submitted photo)

Page 2 Mature Lifestyles • Thursday June 20, 2013

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Hopkins doctor sets good example for his patients BY SUE WEBBER • CONTRIBUTING WRITER Dr. Neil Hoffman doesn’t ask his patients to do anything he doesn’t do. That includes watching his diet and making time for exercise at least four days a week. “I tell patients all the time that the key is to do anything you can to maintain your health,” said Hoffman, 75, an internal medicine specialist in Hopkins. His philosophy of paying attention to physical and mental health and well-being has helped Hoffman continue to work into his 70s, with no retirement plans in sight. “If you had asked me 25 years ago if I would be practicing medicine at this age, I would have said, ‘Why would I do that?’” Hoffman said. “Most of the colleagues I trained with are retired. But most of the time I really enjoy what I’m doing. I can still think. I can still do some teaching, and I’m happy to be doing it.” He decided as a junior high school student in St. Louis Park that he wanted to be a doctor, Hoffman said. “My father was a pharmacist, and I decided I needed to do something where I could be my own boss,” he said. “I thought about law school, but I really had an interest in medicine.” He earned undergraduate and medical degrees at the University of Minnesota, served in the U.S. Navy at Oakland Naval Hospital in California, and then opened a practice in internal medicine with a friend. Later, he joined the Aspen Group in Hopkins, where he now works. “When I was first in practice, I wanted to shape things in medicine,” Hoffman said. “Now, at my stage in life, I just want to practice medicine.” He finds himself now taking care of many former high school friends and current friends, as well as the children of patients who have been with him since he began practicing medicine, Hoffman said. “That’s really delightful, though it’s hard when someone who gets sick doesn’t do well,” he said. He estimates that 70 percent of his patients are overweight. “I still have patients who smoke too much and patients who drink too much alcohol,” Hoffman said. He sees 14 patients a day, eight hours a day, four days a week, and still does some teaching at Abbott-Northwestern Hospital. “I have a good nursing staff and other

associates, and I don’t have to take calls at night,” Hoffman said. “My physical health is good and my mental health is good. Most of the time it’s pleasant and fun to practice medicine.” Hannah Muhs, a nurse at the clinic with whom Hoffman has worked for more than two years, said Hoffman “always says he won’t retire because he likes his work and enjoys seeing patients. He’s active. He likes to golf, too.” The rewards are worth the work, Hoffman said. He recalls seeing a woman with no symptoms who had come in for a routine physical examination at 4 p.m. one day and discovering that she had a life-threateningly low heart rate and was experiencing an acute heart blockage. “I told her she needed a pacemaker and I called an ambulance to take her to the hospital,” Hoffman said. “Things like that happen two or three times a month and reinforce that I’m doing something good. It really helps me do this. If I felt I couldn’t contribute positively, I absolutely wouldn’t continue working.” Of more than 10,000 members of the Minnesota Medical Association, 485 members age 70 or older still have active licenses, according to Dan Hauser, manager of media relations and communications for the MMA. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re still practicing medicine, only that they’ve kept their licenses current, Hauser said. A life-long Minneapolitan, Hoffman is married to his high school sweetheart. The couple has three children and four grandchildren. Visits to New York and California to visit offspring and grandchildren help to recharge his batteries, Hoffman said. He also recharges with brisk games of racquetball four nights a week. “Exercise is very important,” he said. “I can’t tell patients to do things I don’t do.” He no longer runs around the Minneapolis lakes, as he did 10 years ago, but, Hoffman said, “I still get around the racquetball court pretty well.”’ If he retired now, he would do more teaching, Hoffman said. “I like teaching medical students,” he said. “They don’t get enough teaching about how to keep people well. The key to staying healthy is keeping the mind active and the body active. We need to make the most of every day.” DOCTOR - TO PAGE 5

Dr. Neil Hoffman, 75, has been a full-time physician in the Twin Cities area for 50 years. (Submitted photo)

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Humor, creativity and lots of ideas keep 91-year-old author going BY SUE WEBBER • CONTRIBUTING WRITER Robert MacGregor Shaw celebrated his 91st birthday with cake – and a book signing party. He recently released his fourth publication, a book titled “The Blessing.” Shaw, an Edina resident, has written a book a year since 2009. An earlier book, titled “Bachelor Slob in the Kitchen,” won a first prize in the 2011 Midwest Book Awards. After a long and storied career that included teaching journalism and heading newspaper associations in the states of Washington and Minnesota, Shaw has not been the retiring type. He writes, he gardens, he enjoys music, and keeps in contact with his three sons and six grandchildren, plus a myriad of friends. “My boys have married real good daughters-in-law,” Shaw said. “They feel sorry for me and keep me spoiled with food.” Shaw prides himself on not having a radio, a TV set or a pet. He gave up playing Dixieland music on his trombone when he was in his mid-80s. He still thrives, as he always has, on creative ideas. The plot of his newest book, illustrated by college-age granddaughter Isabel Buffington Shaw, is an example of his imaginative creativity, combined with his ever-present and well-honed sense of humor. Shaw summarizes the plot this way: “The year is 2080. Chief Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have reached a 5-4 decision that the First Amendment should protect all mammals. The chairman of the mammals is a great blue whale who picks 10 committees to investigate different aspects of human behavior, such as privacy, humor, violence and science. They need to decide whether they want to be like human beings. They decide it would be a great advantage to be like humans. “The other side, dangerous animals, is represented by a Holstein bull, a very good chairman who has decided that human beings fundamentally are violent. He wants to get as far away as possible from human beings. So he decides to turn down the chief justice’s nice invitation.” Shaw says he doesn’t buy the idea that authors should write for their audiences. “I write the way I want to,” Shaw said. “My latest book ends up with a rather

Bob Shaw, 91, of Edina, has written a book a year since 2009. (Photo by Sue Webber) pessimistic view of human beings.” One of the organizers of his recent birthday party/book signing was Linda Falkman, who worked with Shaw for nine of the 18 years he was executive director of the Minnesota Newspaper Association, and succeeded him as the group’s leader in 2006. “He was wonderful to work for,” Falkman said. “He was an idea person. We had a limited budget, so we would take 10 of his ideas and decide which one

would make the most difference in enhancing membership.” As a charter member of the 30-year old Wordos group, an informal gathering of grammarians, Shaw values words and syntax. The group has published five editions of a book called “92 Abuses of English.” “He’s extraordinary; he’s no older now than when I met him more than 20 years ago,” said Chuck Sweningsen of Bloomington, who moved to Minneapolis and

joined the Wordos group after he retired from a career at the Chicago Sun Times. Another of Shaw’s passions has been the Minnesota Newspaper Museum, which opened in Heritage Square at the Minnesota State Fair in 1987. It is a recreation of a 1930s-era weekly newspaper office, featuring letterpress equipment and a working replication of a small town newspaper. Shaw volunteers at the museum during the fair, and helps to raise money for it. Shaw received a degree in journalism at the University of Minnesota in 1949, served in the military and later wrote for the Stars and Stripes, managed a weekly newspaper in Othello, Wash., taught journalism at the University of Washington and managed a newspaper association there before coming back to Minnesota to head the Minnesota Newspaper Association. He met his wife, the late Virginia Shaw, at the U of M. “Virginia was much smarter than I ever was,” said Shaw, who was widowed in 2006. His status as a bachelor prompted the writing of “The Bachelor Slob in the Kitchen,” a book intended for all people who live alone. In it, Shaw writes in a nononsense and whimsical fashion about all the dilemmas of living alone: cooking, cleaning, and even romance. He outlines his eight core foods: Oatmeal, beans (lima and pinto), rice, powdered milk, potatoes, eggs, bread and apples. He buys core foods in large quantities at a local co-op, including oatmeal in 40-pound bags. His four standard menus include Oatmeal Ennui, Potage Celeste, Sandwich Surprise and Omelette Formidable. He suggests serving Watermelon Achtung, fruit laced with bourbon, to “pokerplaying pals.” Shaw advises readers on how to fry eggs and make toast at the same time in a large frying pan, and how to “stomp” the kitchen wastebasket to gain four more days of trash storage. Fresh produce has a large place in Shaw’s daily menus. His large garden yields lettuce, tomatoes, kale, corn and bush beans from late June until midSeptember. What he doesn’t eat he gives away to fellow residents at the Edina cooperative where he lives. “Bush beans are ‘Grandma’s Beans,’” AUTHOR - TO PAGE 6

Mature Lifestyles • Thursday, June 20, 2013 Page 5

Pastor FROM PAGE 1 “Everyone looks forward to seeing Pastor Dan; folks just love him,” said the Rev. Carol Skjegstad, one of his colleagues at Calvary. “He is an amazing guy; he always has stories to share,” she said. “He’s so uplifting because he values people and is interested in their stories.” A question Seidelmann asks each of the people he visits is one that Skjegstad said she has incorporated into her own work. “He always says to people, ‘How are you and the Lord doing these days?’ That opens up a huge window for people to say what’s really on their hearts. It removes the barriers,” Skjegstad said. Seidelmann’s father, Al, was a role model for optimism and love of life. He was an insurance agent who settled a lot of death claims. “When he started in the early ‘30s, the life expectancy of an average male was 45,” Seidelmann said. “My dad always said if he could live to be 55, anything after that would be a sheer gift. That’s how he lived his life.”

Dr. Neil Hoffman plays a brisk game of racquetball four nights a week. (Submitted photo)

Doctor FROM PAGE 3 He encourages his patients to have regular medical checkups, and diagnostic tests such as mammograms and colonoscopies, even when people are feeling well. “We need to treat blood pressure and cholesterol and keep the heart healthy,”

he said. “We need to keep the mind active through reading, thinking, Sudoko, and crossword puzzles.” He sees some people who retire in their late 50s and go home to watch TV, only to experience rapidly deteriorating health, Hoffman said. “There are problems with aging, but we need to make the best of them,” he said. “I talk with my patients all the time about diet and exercise. The key is to do everything we can to maintain our health.”

“At the age of 85, he was going to birthday parties for 6-year-olds,” Seidelmann said. “When he was 90 years old, 250 people came to his birthday party, and 200 more people sent cards.” At an advanced age, his father relocated from Illinois to Minnesota, assuring his son that he would make a lot of new friends he hadn’t met yet. And then he proceeded to befriend bus drivers, people in restaurants, and others that he met. Prior to Al’s death at the age of 96, Seidelmann asked him what he prayed for each day. “He told me he was thankful for the gift of each day,” Seidelmann said. “He told me he was never alone, because he would pray, ‘Well, Lord, what are you and I going to do together today?’” Seidelmann has adopted that optimism and made it his own. “In most cases, I can have fun with these people I’m visiting each day,” he said. “It takes less energy to smile; you use more muscles when you frown.” In his spare time, Seidelmann enjoys woodworking, carving, gardening and travel. A fisherman, he focuses on catching muskies (the largest was 48 inches) but practices CPR: catch, photograph and release. He and his wife have three sons and six grandchildren.

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Author FROM PAGE 4 he said. “They’ve been in our family for 120 years.” His son, Bob Shaw, Jr., a writer at the St. Paul Pioneer Press for the last 20 years, says he doesn’t preview his father’s books prior to publication, but does enjoy trading ideas with him. “He’s mentally sharp and fun to talk to,” Bob Shaw, Jr. pointed out. “We do lots of talking about writing and we bounce ideas around. He’s very creative. He’s absolutely wretched with small talk. He’s bored with any conversation that isn’t about ideas.” Shaw, a native of International Falls, Minn., is forthright about his age. “I’m 91,” he said. “I don’t know how this happened. It just happened.” His secret to longevity? “I stayed away from fast women,” Shaw quipped. And yes, he has another book in mind that he plans to start soon on his computer. “I’m very pleased to be doing this writing,” Shaw said.

Shaw, seen here with a fan, is the author of “The Bachelor Slob in the Kitchen” and “The Blessing.” (Submitted photos)

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