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JUNE 2012

Beaumont honors Schnabel, Mainwaring, others; Trachtenberg, A. Paier assume new posts Beaumont finances continue “very sound” New chairman looks to future, Page 3 By Mary Graff

With a standing ovation and a tear in her eye, outgoing Board Chairman Mary Schnabel celebrated an ongoing career in service to Beaumont at our annual meeting May 14 and thanked Beaumont for the opportunity to serve in our community’s highest office. Calling her two years as chairman of the BRCI [Beaumont Retirement Community Inc.] Board “a wonderful honor. . . a genuinely rewarding experience,” she summed up in typically Mary fashion: “I sort of feel like, here I am at the age of ninety, and I’ve finally peaked!” [Laughter] Mary announced the results of a Board election a few weeks before the annual meeting: Don Trachtenberg to take over as chairman, Jeanne Cortner and Jane Lillie to continue as vice chairman and secretary respectively, Jay MacMoran as treasurer, and new Board member Bob Herd to Dolf Paier take the place left vacant by Mary’s retirement. Already sitting on the Board, besides Don, are Geri Paier and Dick Maass. The membership voted to confirm Jay’s election to a second three-year term and Bob’s to his first. An interview with Don appears on Page 3. Bob, the new member, a retired Philadelphia Realtor, has a long continued on page 2

From left, joining in a Beaumont Singers concert last month, are Beaumont’s new chairman, Don Trachtenberg; new BRCI Board member Bob Herd, and outgoing Finance Committee Chairman Bruce Mainwaring. (Officers who sing together work well together, right?) Next to them are Bob Morgan, left, and Charlie Wood. Our new chairman, whose photographs of wildlife decorate the hall outside the library and have appeared in these pages, also plays the guitar. Photos by Louise Hughes

Mary Schnabel, newly retired Board chairman, at last month’s Casino Night. Her many activities do not include serious gambling, but do include making regular, distinctive contributions to the Beaumont News (see Page 4).

“We continue to be in very sound financial condition” . . . . history of active participation in the affairs of the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Union League, the Pennsylvania Lumbermen’s Insurance Company, the Merion Cricket Club, the Philadelphia Squash Racquets Association, and the Wetlands Institute of Stone Harbor, New Jersey. He graduated from Amherst College in 1955. Jeanne Cortner, as vice chairman, paid tribute to Mary, noting that as well as her many volunteer activities “she is highly regarded as a public speaker on French history,” and also to Bruce Mainwaring, retiring chairman of the Finance committee, declaring that “under his leadership, we have all felt secure and totally comfortable.” This evaluation was underlined by his successor, Adolf (Dolf) Paier, husband of Geri, who summarized a long and detailed report for the committee in Bruce’s absence: “We continue to be in very sound financial condition!” As to Bruce himself, Jeanne elaborated: “Bruce served on the BRCI Board for six years, 2001 to 2007, and was chairman of that board for several of those years. He remains on the Marketing Committee and is an active member of Beaumont, as well as many Philadelphia institutions and nonprofits.” Dolf Paier, who has served on the Finance Committee almost since the day of his arrival in 2010, has held high executive positions including that of Chief Operating Officer of Safeguard Scientifics in Wayne, where he was employed for 25 years. He has served on many boards of public and private companies and nonprofits including the Museum of the Arts, the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, and the Philadelphia Country Club. Also in the tribute department, there were kind words from Mary and bouquets from President Joe Fortenbaugh for the retiring co-chairmen of the Arts Committee, Mary Page and Cally Wheeler. As Mary put it, they “worked hard and tirelessly for years to keep the walls of the Beaumont Room full of good and interesting art. . .[as] year-round scouts for talent and then persuaders of artists to make the commitment to show here at Beaumont.” In her Annual Report, Mary included “the ongoing wireless program that has involved every single one of us and introduced us to our fabulous new Information Technology staff members, Mark Surkin and Jeremy Varnis.” (See story on Page 8.) As reasons for celebration she also singled out the “much admired” renovations to the first floors of Austin

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and Baldwin, the new roof on Austin, and the flying colors with which Beaumont passed rigorous government surveys of our Health Center and Personal Care centers and achieved five-year renewal of the coveted accreditation by CARF (the Commission for Accreditation for Rehabilitation Facilities). She also paid tribute to the Beaumont movers and shakers now working on plans for major further improvements during the next few years and to the loyal employees whose many years of service help explain why the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and named Beaumont one of the Delaware Valley’s 100 best places to work—as seen from the workers’ point of view. Staff members who received standing awards this year were Dining Services Director Rose-Marie Pringle, Master Plumber Kent Hall from Maintenance, and Certified Nursing Assistant Alimotu Sodunke. Rose-Marie will be attending the American Dietary Managers Conference in San Diego later this summer. Kent is to attend a conference sponsored by LeadingAge PA, an organization representing the interests of nonprofit homes for the aging, in Hershey later this month. Ali is to accompany Health Services Vice President Linda Lemisch and Nursing Supervisor Maritza Farquharson to a conference in Jacksonville, Fla., sponsored by the Pioneer Network, an organization exploring ways to move patient care in retirement community health care centers as much as possible away from staff-oriented schedules and procedures and more toward individual patient preferences. BEAUMONT NEWS The Beaumont News is published by the residents and staff of the Beaumont Retirement Community, 601 N. Ithan Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Managing Editor Production Editor

Mary Graff Christine Johnson-Hall

Editor Emeritus and Historian

Louise Guthrie

Photo Editor

Louise Hughes

Events Manager Proofreader Circulation Manager

Kim Norrett Jennie Frankel Barbara O’Brien

The deadline for the July 2012 issue of the Beaumont News will be June 7. The News publishes 10 editions a year from October to July. Please sign your story and either turn it in at the front desk or better, if you can, e-mail it to Mary Graff at Please keep a copy for yourself! For back issues, please go to the file in the library or go to our website, 2

New chairman looks to the future By Peter Binzen

periodicals they might otherwise not have encountered. “Each week we would read a different one, including the Atlantic, Harper’s, New Republic, Time and New York Times Book Review, and write about every article we found in it,” Don said. “It was an unbelievable experience.” He lived in Wynnefield, a predominantly row-house section of a friendly neighborhood in which all the residents took pride in their lawns. “We knew everybody on the block,” he said. Across the street was Bobbi Rosen, who also attended Overbrook and who, like Don, would become a resident of Beaumont. Bobbi’s husband-to-be, Elmer, lived on the cross street at the corner. His parents were immigrants, his mother from Russia and his father from the Ukraine. Their son proved to be an academic superstar. He was an excellent student at Overbrook and received a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. He majored in zoology at Penn, and after receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1958, he enrolled in what was then the Hahnemann Medical School. “From the first day I hated it,” he recalled. The building where classes were held was “dismal and dark.” He did well in the first semester but concluded that he didn’t want to be a physician. So he left med school and started teaching biology at Overbrook High. He had not previously considered dentistry as a career, but now he did. He passed a general aptitude test and was accepted at the Penn Dental School in 1959. In June of that year, he married Judith Freedman and they would have two daughters, Julie and Jennifer, and one granddaughter, Janey. Don and Judy celebrated 52 years of marriage last June. He found his life’s work at the dental school. “I absolutely loved it,” he said, “and I rapidly became interested primarily in restorative dentistry.” His talents were quickly recognized, and after the first year he received a full scholarship. He graduated in 1963. He then entered the U.S. Public Health Service and simultaneously the U.S. Coast Guard’s Academy Hospital, at that time temporarily located in Groton, Conn. He went in as a lieutenant junior grade and was promoted to lieutenant commander. “It was a terrific experience,” he said. Returning to Penn for two more years in the Graduate School of Medicine, he received certification as a periodontist and prosthodontist, taught at the dental school and became a department chairman at the age of 32, eventually (belatedly) becoming a full professor. He also was one of three principal investigators on a project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, to study dental

Beaumont is a marvelous retirement community, and it would be hard to find its equal anywhere. Many of its residents would doubtless prefer that it remain as is. But change always comes. So says Don Trachtenberg, newly named chairman of the BRCI (Beaumont Retirement Community Inc.) Board. “Our job is to maintain the terrific level of quality that we have,” Don said in an interview, “and to add as much as is needed to meet the requirements of the changing community. “Beaumont is the best you can get. It is our intention to keep it that way.” Beaumont President Joe Fortenbaugh disclosed in response to a question at our annual meeting last month that a bond issue is being considered to finance certain upgrades. Don said that although the bond issue is not a fait accompli, Photo by Louise Hughes the proposed changes might Don Trachtenberg include a new and enlarged Fitness Center and possibly a sports lounge and bar. There will definitely be an upgrade to the geo-thermal system. The aim would be to make certain that Beaumont is as attractive to the next generation of retirees as it is to its present residents. “Without keeping abreast of changes in lifestyle, we would fall behind,” Don said. The upgrades, partially supported by donations to the Beaumont Fund, are not expected to affect the residents’ monthly fees. “Marketing is extremely important,” he pointed out. “The competition keeps increasing. You have to spend money to make money. So far we’ve gotten a lot of bang for our buck.” More than half the units sold so far this year were “directly attributed to marketing,” he added. “Ten years ago, Beaumont had no marketing budget at all and very little competition. That is how times have changed.” Don paid tribute to his immediate predecessor, Mary Schnabel, and retiring Finance Chairman Bruce Mainwaring, also a former BRCI board chairman. “I hope I can at least do as well as they did,” he said. “It’s a big responsibility for all of us in governing Beaumont.” A 1954 graduate of Philadelphia’s Overbrook High School, he especially remembers the 10th grade teacher who exposed his students to contemporary

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A fish story: Showing the grownups how it’s done By Mary Schnabel

While I watched, he proThe first time a fishduced a brassie, a woolly ing rod was put into his bugger and a nymph. hands, at age 3, Jake Although those are all was... I have to say it... standard flies, he hooked! designs most of his own At age 5 he was menand names them himtioned in the Boston self. Globe for catching a 12While he was set up inch perch when ice and working in my den, I fishing. thought this would be an At age 6 he won a interesting story. Everprize in a fishing derby accommodating Louise because he caught 15 Hughes came and took fish in one hour. Jake’s picture while he Then Jake decided was hard at work. two years ago, at age Most of Jake’s fishing 10, that he would tie his is done near his home in own flies. His first Massachusetts and at attempts required a lot Photo by Louise Hughes our house at Cape Cod, of ingenuity. The tiny but he says the biggest hooks were easy to Jake ties a fly, demonstrating virtuosity and speed. fish he ever caught was come by in a tackle shop, but he supplied all the rest of the necessities by a 3-foot lake trout on Lake Willoughby in Vermont. P.S. Jake Schnabel is my grandson. searching his surroundings. He borrowed a wood vise from his father and a spool of thread from his mother and found the feathers in his woods. For the small amount of hair, he used his own, his father’s and some he cut from his cat. He looked a little embarrassed when asked what kind of glue he used back in those early days. Plain wood glue, he admitted. Now he has his own real fly-tying equipment and can turn out an amazing variety of flies in a short time. When he and his parents visited recently, I asked him to bring his kit along and show me how he does it.

New chairman . . . . continued from page 3

implants together with the chairman of the BioEngineering Department and a professor of metallurgy. Don’s expertise was so much admired that he has been invited to lecture all over the United States and in foreign countries. He has also become an expert witness on dental malpractice cases. “I get hired by both sides,” he said. He has authored 30 professional publications and written articles in The New York Times and other journals. His personal life took a tragic turn in 1998 when his wife developed a severe neuro-degenerative disease. She died on Jan. 12 of this year. Now Don, while mourning the loss of his wife, has much work to keep him busy, both as an expert witness and as Beaumont’s leader, with a term as Chairman for two years.

Photo by Louise Hughes Triumphant on a Beaumont fishing trip last month to the Limestone Spring Preserves near Reading, Pa., is Alan Tripp, Chairman of the Marketing Committee, which is credited with landing more than half the new residents who have arrived here over the last year.


From newcomers to neighbors By Peter Binzen

Music has always been important in the life of Carlos Gonzalez, but never more so than the night in 1970 when he attended a concert at the Academy of Music. The Philadelphia Orchestra concert was lovely but what made the evening memorable for Carlos, a native of Bogotá in Colombia, was the attractive woman in the next seat. She proved to be Ingrid Neimann, who had grown up in Nazi Germany and fled East Berlin in 1961 with a fake passport through Checkpoint Charlie. Both Carlos, a brain surgeon, and Ingrid, a chemist, have had lively careers. Ingrid, after escaping from the Communist regime in East Germany, engaged in calcium metabolism research at the University of Frankfurt. It had an exchange program with the State University of New York at Rochester; Ingrid transferred to Rochester and later took a position with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She was working there when she found herself sitting next to Carlos who was also at HUP. His career had taken him to five countries as he became fluent in four languages. After graduating from medical school in Bogotá, he underwent training in neurosurgery in Stockholm and then in Cologne, Germany. Next came training in Edinburgh, Scotland, for three years, and then to New York City as a resident in neurosurgery at the NYU Medical School. He might have remained in New York without ever meeting Ingrid, but lawyers were making life miserable for brain surgeons there. Litigation was threatening the livelihood of the doctors. “It was terrible,” Carlos said. So he switched to neuro-radiology. In 1970 he left New York and came to Philadelphia as Assistant Professor of Radiology and Neurosurgery at HUP. He was there when he met Ingrid. They were married in 1971.

Photos by Louise Hughes Carlos and Ingrid Gonzalez

After one year at HUP, Carlos joined the staff at Jefferson University, where he remained for 20 years. He retired as Director of Neuro-Radiology at Jefferson and now works part-time as Professor of Neurology and Neuro-Radiology at Drexel. Ingrid, 77, and Carlos, 76, have two daughters and two grandchildren. Both of their daughters, Stephanie, 39, and Alexandra, 38, live in Boston. Alexandra, a documentary filmmaker, has produced a film of her mother’s escape from East Germany. The couple lived for many years in Society Hill before moving to Merion Station. In 2003, Ingrid underwent brain surgery that arrested her Parkinson’s condition. The symptoms have since decreased dramatically. They moved to their villa here earlier this year. Their bookshelves contain many medical books and scientific papers written or co-authored by Carlos over the years. Included is his English translation of a French treatise. There is a swimming pool in the house but what Carlos treasures most is the Steinway grand piano. He has been studying piano and performing since childhood. If he had not become a surgeon he might have made his name as a concert pianist. Music is still an important part of his life.

Architect developed buildings in Philadelphia, Wilmington, Detroit By Ann Robb Smith

Bennett Blum

Bennett Blum moved into Beaumont in early March of this year and his apartment already looks ship-shape. Perhaps this is because he is an architect with an eye for design, space and color. He has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, a five-year course which required four years of art and art history. He and his wife happily traveled throughout Europe, especially Spain, visiting innumerable churches, cathe5

drals and other architectural wonders. He remembers that, in the 50s, traveling and renting were very inexpensive! He and his wife, Helen Chaikan, were married in 1950, a year before he graduated. Helen was also a student at Penn, but left to get married. More than 20 years later, after the children were out of the nest, she returned to the university to earn her degree. He and Helen had celebrated their 47th wedding continued on page 6

Tennis, Trina, and learning Italian are her passions By Ann Robb Smith

If you like to walk around our grounds here at Beaumont you have probably met Trina, a very large, but gentle, tan greyhound with her best friend and owner, Anne Gruenberg, who moved from her home of 62 years to Beaumont in February. Trina is a former racer, but did not win any races. She was not successful, Anne says, “because she was too smart to waste her time running around in circles.” Trina is now a “Therapy Dog” and visits the residents in Personal Care and the Photo by Louise Hughes Health Center, Anne Gruenberg where she is warmly welcomed and has made many friends. Both Trina and Anne enjoy these visits, which are much

more rewarding than running around a race track. Anne still does a little running around but only on a tennis court now. She loves sports and has been involved in a variety of them all her life, both as an active participant and as an enthusiastic fan. Go Phillies! Anne grew up in New York and attended Wellesley College for two years before she married John Gruenberg. She then transferred to Swarthmore for another two years to earn her degree. As a young wife and mother of three daughters, Anne was kept busy with activities at the girls’ schools, community service and as a Girl Scout leader. Once the children were independent, she rekindled one of her favorite pastimes, playing the piano, and became a piano teacher. George Fabian, a fellow resident at Beaumont, has studied with her. Anne and John had been married for 48 years when he died 15 years ago. The family now includes in-laws and five grandchildren. They live spread out from Connecticut to Texas and from England to Australia. In addition to sports and playing the piano, Anne is passionate about learning Italian. She attends classes twice a week. “I study Italian because I love it,” she says. It all began on her first visit to Italy, a 10-day trip while she was still in high school. She has made four or five trips since then. Best of all, she says, was the trip her three children took her on to Italy to celebrate her 75th birthday. Her collection of turtles is in the Beaumont Room display cabinet.

Architect . . . .

Presidential Apartments. He also developed projects in Wilmington, Cincinnati and Detroit. He served on two Boards of Managers and also as Treasurer of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Zoo, of which he is an Emeritus Director. In his younger days, for recreation, he enjoyed fly fishing, bird shooting and a great deal of golf.

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anniversary before her death 14 years ago. The Blums had two sons and a daughter. While the children were young, the family summered in their house in Margate. The beaches and waves provided endless joy and laughter for many years. Over time the family has added two grandsons and a great-grandson and has scattered far and wide, one son in Seattle and the other in London. Their daughter has settled in Manhattan. One of the grandsons graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, the fourth generation to have attended there. After Bennett’s graduation he joined the family business. The firm was engaged in the design, construction and management of high-rise apartment buildings, among them 2601 Parkway, School Lane House and

IN MEMORIAM Pauline (Polly) Toland ..........April 28 Olive Gowen .........................April 30 Merritt Shumen .......................May 6 Edwin C. Donaghy, Jr..............May 7 Members of the Beaumont Community extend deepest sympathy to their families and friends. 6

Limbering up by the numbers in the Beaumont Room By Barbara O’Brien

Fifteen may sound like an ordinary number to the general public, but for about 25 people who faithfully attend Bob Stedeford’s exercise class three days a week in the Beaumont Room, it is the welcome sound that indicates that our particular exercise has been groaningly accomplished. “Now just hold your weights, lean over, hold your stomach in, touch your toes, and HOLD it ‘til I count to fifteen. And Smile!” I look around furtively; I haven’t been able to touch my toes for a while. As usual, I see Frances Etherington bend down and actually put both hands on

occasionally goes back to “one.” Visitors, led by Audrey, pass along the corridor with expressions of: “I’m certainly not going to do that if I come here!” “Come on. Let’s get a burn,” says our tormentor, showing us how to swing our arms and legs in some pretzel formation. “Did you feel that BURN?” Feeble voices answer “yes.” Bob seems to have eyes in his back: “I see quite a few people taking shortcuts. You must keep your feet off the floor, not resting on it.” Several times when Bob was away, we were pleasantly surprised to see a film of Lauren leading exercise class while heavily pregnant and still able to touch her toes. Although the exercises seemed the same, we suddenly realized that she was only counting to TEN! We shifted uneasily; would we become more elastic by counting only to ten? A few people actually did a few extra exercises in case Bob was watching from a remote. We have various finales; the most striking one is standing on one leg for the dreaded fifteen. What passers-by think when seeing this group of wobbling storks is anyone’s guess. Probably pity. The class dutifully behaves because we know that although Bob’s Mussolini side is strong, there is another side that brings water to the coughers, steadies the unsteady, and really wants us to become people who can actually pick up something from the floor.

What passers-by think when seeing this group of wobbling storks is anyone’s guess.

the FLOOR! I resolve to sit farther from Fran next session. Another exercise involving groans is next, lifting our legs and weights in some maneuver while Bob chants the inexorable “fifteen.” Occasionally there are mutinous attempts to skip forward, with various voices shouting “ten!” when we know it’s really “five.” Our peerless leader just looks at us scornfully and even

Enjoying a day at the zoo Mary Disston and giraffe at a recent Beaumont expedition to the Philadelphia Zoo. Photo by Louise Hughes


Mark Surkin (left) and Jeremy Varnis in the basement nerve center of Beaumont’s new Information Technology department. Photo by Louise Hughes

It’s IT to the rescue, with know-how and charm When retiring Board Chairman Mary Schnabel brought up the subject of our new Information Technology department at the Annual Meeting last month, she admitted that there had been, “naturally, a few glitches in getting this complicated program under way.” “But,” she added, “the amiability and efficiency of these two IT men, Mark Surkin and Jeremy Varnis, have so charmed us that we have surprised ourselves by being both patient and uncomplaining.” Who are these two IT men? The News asked Nancy Harris to find out.

with a wonderful family. He grew up in Cheltenham and graduated from St. Joe’s Prep, later spending two years at Indiana University and two years at the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. He graduated in 1998 with a degree in Computer Science. In 2008, Jeremy graduated from the Microsoft Certification Program and has been working in the computer field ever since. Like Mark, Jeremy is a big fan of all the Philadelphia sports teams and loves to travel. In addition to his busy schedule here, Jeremy is a night supervisor unloading trucks at Kohl’s. And if you need a DJ anytime, Jeremy does that too, working such functions as weddings, graduation parties, and birthday celebrations.

By Nancy Harris

Mark Surkin was born in Philadelphia and in 2004 received his degree from Drexel in Information Technology. It is no surprise that he loves taking things apart and fixing them. Mark likes most outdoor activity including hiking (lots of opportunity here at Beaumont!) and kayaking. He is also very keen on travel and likes to cook. His longtime girlfriend runs the service desks at Bryn Mawr College Library and has 80 students under her supervision. She also buys those colorful shirts he wears. Mark is a huge Phillies fan and plays on a team in the Men’s Senior Baseball League. In this case over25 is considered senior! By chance one of his friends in the League was a consultant at Beaumont for the new WiFi system and suggested that Mark might like a job here. How lucky for us! Chance also played a large part in the hiring of Jeremy Varnis. It happened that one day Mark was in Social Services Director Kristen Ganley’s office and was introduced to a woman working here as a hospice nurse. Mary Jane Varnis happened to have her son’s business card and suggested Mark might want to get in touch. The lady’s son is none other than Jeremy, widely known—as is Mark—as the personal savior of many Beaumont neophytes in the computer world. Jeremy was born in Quito, Ecuador. He says it was just chance that he was adopted and came to America

A memorable evening in the Music Room By Eli Burstein Virtuoso organist Maestro Valentin Radu, founder of the VoxAmaDeus ensemble now in its 25th season, returned to Beaumont May 15 to play the Beaumont Aeolian Organ before an enthusiastic audience in a wonderfully chosen program, one that brought out the full potential of the organ. Valentin Radu and the organ were a perfect match. Each piece that he played was preceded by his own personal comments and humorous anecdotes to the delight of the audience. Among the pieces he played was the Toccata from a symphony written specifically for organ by 19th Century composer Charles Marie Widor. Most of the program was by 17th Century composers, including four J.S. Bach pieces which were particularly well received. It brought back special memories of an all-Bach concert played by E. Power Briggs, which Rena and I attended in Boston 60 years ago. We look forward to Maestro Radu’s return next year. 8

June NewsB 06 2012 Friday Night_0  

V OLUME T WENTY S IX , N UMBER S IX J UNE 2012 By Mary Graff Mary Schnabel, newly retired Board chairman, at last month’s Casino Night. Her...

June NewsB 06 2012 Friday Night_0  

V OLUME T WENTY S IX , N UMBER S IX J UNE 2012 By Mary Graff Mary Schnabel, newly retired Board chairman, at last month’s Casino Night. Her...