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Ferndale Record

Senior Life Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Celebrating Whatcom County's Senior Lifestyle

Retired Luanne Isom Mills finds indoor rowing success, wins Second-Half Champions Award ............C2

A supplement of the Lynden Tribune and Ferndale Record


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Ferndale Record


Lynden native, in retirement, finds indoor rowing success Luanne Isom Mills wins Second-Half Champions Award Calvin Bratt Tribune editor     SEATTLE — At the beginning, Luanne Isom Mills thought she was just participating in a medical study. It became immeasurably more than that.     How much physical strength and competitive spirit she had within her 62-year-old body, Mills couldn’t have known until she pushed herself.     The retired teacher, who grew up in Lynden, went from being a happily light exerciser to a seriously competitive athlete who holds world records in her age group for indoor rowing.     “I am a 1957 graduate of Lynden High School and (by many years) a pre-Title IX woman, so becoming an athlete is a great new adventure,” Mills wrote in a recent letter to the Tribune.     She was writing primarily to report that her father — Elbert Isom, longtime teacher, coach, principal and superintendent of the Lynden public schools — had been inducted posthumously into his southern Illinois high school athletic hall of fame for his football, basketball and track achievements back in the 1920s.     But Luanne was soon to receive her own high athletic honor at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. She is one of three 2011 Washington recipients of the Wells Fargo Advisors Second-Half Champions Award, which celebrates extraordinary transformations after the age of 50.     Retirement offers a second chance to do something really worthwhile, whether it’s volunteering in your community, going back to school, starting a businesses, or reaching for some other personal or professional achieve-


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Ferndale Record

Luanne Isom Mills began her journey to world-class athlete at age 62 when she got on an ergometer at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2002. She was part of a study on the effect of exercise on the occurrence of colon cancer. — Courtesy photo | LUANNE ISOM MILLS

ment, according to the program sponsors.     “While many of us hit 50 and prepare to slow down and relax, our Second-Half Champions honorees — whether by design or by circumstance — have chosen to begin anew in ambitious endeavors and accomplish awe-inspiring feats,” said Danny Ludeman, CEO of Wells Fargo Advisors.     Ambitious and awe-inspiring indeed.     It is true that Luanne Mills was in a family of rowing fanatics. Her husband John had done crew for the University of Washington, son Tom rowed for Harvard and daughter Amy was on a Green Lake team. But the only rowing Luanne had done was in a mothers’ club when the kids were in high school. She was content in retirement with an exercise regimen of mostly walking and gardening.     Then came the medical study. The Cancer Care Alliance wanted to track 200 people on the effects of exercise in relation to occurrence of colon cancer. Luanne happened to be selected into the active group that would exercise one hour each day, six days every week; the other group would be sedentary in lifestyle.     Luanne gravitated toward an exercise machine, the Concept 2 ergometer, or ERG, that simulates rowing. From the start in April 2002, she progressed so quickly that she qualified in her age group for Team USA just five months later. Luanne traveled to England to compete in her first-ever rowing competition and won the silver medal.     “I found I’m pretty competitive,” she said for the Second-Half award, “and I love that my family often comes to my competitions to support me.”     Since 2002, Mills has gone on to dominate national and international competition in her age group. She is the current

C3 world record holder in the 65-69 lightweight category as well as the 70-79 category. She has won her age group at World Championships in Boston eight times; she competed in Tokyo just this past January.     Now at age 70, she continues to do her rowing machine routine — which she has characterized as “combination exercise and torture” — at 30-45 minutes six days a week.     Then, for her normal life, Luanne, who was a second grade and special ed teacher for most of her career, still substitutes two or three days per week in Seattle schools.     A friend and fellow rower, Mike Caviston, had this to say: “I’ve been fortunate enough to compete on the same team as Luanne Mills, who looks like she fell off a charm bracelet but who’s kind of a lion.”     Luanne says that the best part of her second-half passion is hearing people say she has inspired them.     Among those admirers are her husband, son, daughter and her three grandchildren.     Because Concept 2 maintains an online ranking system and means for the competitive indoor rowing community to keep in touch with one another, Mills has made friends all over the world.     Her advise to those considering a second-half adventure? “Give it your best shot. Take a risk. You may end up inspiring someone else, setting an example, and you’ll never know unless you try.     “My message to anyone who will listen is that it is never too late to start and try something new. You never know what will happen and I am amazed as much as anyone that it is me being this successful as an athlete.”     Email Calvin Bratt at

Also winners... The two other 2011 Second-Half Champion   honorees found these ways to excel:

Helen McGovern

After great achievement in commercial real estate and local politics, McGovern committed herself to ensuring that no person goes hungry in Pierce County. She has massively revitalized the Emergency Food Network to the point of serving 67 food banks and feeding more than 140,000 each month.

Claire Anderson

Once an accountant and executive director of Ivy League alumni associations, Anderson went legally blind at age 66. She learned skills needed to be independent and has become a motivational speaker and author.

Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Ferndale Record



Lyndenite Ted Linde finds relief with Parkinson’s surgery Seattle hospitals offer a new battery-based procedure Tim Newcomb Tribune assistant editor     LYNDEN — Ted Linde was willing to look anywhere for answers to solve the questions he faced with his Parkinson’s disease.     So he headed to Seattle and underwent a relatively new procedure — Deep Brain Stimulation — and he loves the results. Now, with two electrodes inserted inside his brain and a wire that runs down his neck to a battery pack inside his right shoulder — putting it in his left shoulder would have curtailed his ability to hunt because he uses his left arm for shooting — Linde, 70, is nearly free of Parkinson’s symptoms.     The procedure sounds menacing, but was actually pain-free, Linde said. Sure, the wire in his neck took some time getting used to and the two caps on the top of the electrodes in his skull — which aren’t at all visible under the skin — may not be the norm, but the three-hour surgery in October 2010 went well and has Linde’s life going the right direction. He just wishes everyone could experience the same relief

Ted Linde is improved enough from his Parkinson’s disease symptoms to take a hunting trip with family members to Alberta this month. — Courtesy photo | TED LINDE he has.     Ted and his wife of nearly 50 years, Suzanne, first noticed something was amiss in 2000 when Ted’s handwriting began to deteriorate. He saw a local doctor, but was assured he didn’t have Parkinson’s.     Linde retired from his job as the Lyn-

den School District’s transportation and maintenance director in 2004. By 2006 his handwriting was illegible, his hand tremor was constant and he was struggling to walk.     He labored to find answers until he made an appointment with a neurologist

at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s within seconds.     At the time, back problems — Parkinson’s can exacerbate back issues — required surgery, so he put aside the doctor’s idea of a brain surgery to help with Parkinson’s.     “I didn’t know what the surgery was and so I put it off,” Linde said. “The tremor kept getting worse and I couldn’t walk. I figured, ‘What do I have to lose?’”     Linde called the doctor back in 2010 and went through a series of tests to make sure he was a good candidate for the surgery. Without any other physical ailments and a highly functioning brain (he had the highest score ever in basic brain-functioning tests at the hospital), he qualified for the surgery and went in via wheelchair on Oct. 19, 2010. He walked out the next day.     “What a relief it was to walk out of the hospital,” he said.     During surgery, doctors drilled two holes in the top of his skull, used air pressure to separate brain matter and inserted two electrodes into his brain into the area that produces dopamine and controls nervous functions. During the surgery, he was brought out of anesthesia to ensure the tremors had stopped (the brain feels no pain) and then put back under for the final stitching up.     After the operation, the tremors left and the walking improved. The Parkin-

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Ferndale Record

SENIOR LIFE son’s side effect of frozen facial features also went away. While he still deals with a “thick tongue” during speech and easily changing emotions — both Parkinson’s issues — his quality of life has improved immensely, even so much that he was able to enjoy a hunting a trip with family members to Alberta this month.     A six-volt battery sits inside of him and one side of his body has a constant 3.8 volts and the other a constant 4 volts, although he can’t feel it at all. The voltage blocks the nerves causing the tremors. If he turns off the battery, the tremors return within 30 seconds. He can slightly adjust the voltage via a remote control as needed.     The procedure first reached the United States in 2002 and has steadily increased in popularity, with Virginia Mason doing about 100 per year.     “I wasn’t apprehensive (about the operation) at all,” he said. “When I first found out about Parkinson’s, I was on pills that make you go up and down so fast. I got to the point where I thought it could only get better.”     Before the surgery, everyone Linde spoke to about the procedure talked in glowing terms. Now he is one of those people. While the procedure isn’t for everyone and does have varying results, Linde encourages anyone with Parkinson’s to at least look into the option, and he said to call him (354-2025) with questions. “It has given me a longer life,” he said, “and made it better than it was.”     Email Tim Newcomb at

Parkinson’s talk set for Thursday     BELLINGHAM — The Adult Day Health Center at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center addresses Parkinson’s Disease as the next topic in its lecture series, “Facing the Challenges of Aging.”     The talk “Parkinson’s 101,” free and open to public, will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 19, in the St. Luke’s Health Education Center, 3333 Squalicum Parkway. No RSVP is necessary.     Physician Bruce C. Mackay, of PeaceHealth Medical Group Neurology Associates, will provide information about Parkinson’s disease, including symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, progression of the disease, current research and local support options.     For more information, phone 7886410.     The Adult Day Health Center provides nursing, therapeutic exercise and activities to support older adults and people with disabilities or long-term illness, and enable them to remain in their homes. ADHC also provides a variety of caregiver support services including support groups, staff consultation and education. Through collaboration with other community care providers, the center helps ensure that families who live with chronic illness or disability are provided the help they need.

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Traveling the U.S. Lynden couple lives in their trailer for a year while seeing historical sites Adam Lewis Tribune intern     LYNDEN — Dan and Diane Crabtree knew they had all the time in the world.     After retiring in 2009, the couple embarked on a year-long road trip across the United States on April 28, 2010. The adventure was inspired by a book they borrowed at the Lynden Library detailing how traveling the country can be cheaper than living at home.     With Dan’s crimson Dodge Dakota and small camper trailer as their mode of transportation, the longtime Lynden residents set out on a journey that would take them to the country’s most intriguing historical landmarks.     “There was just so much that I hadn’t seen and that she hadn’t seen, so we just hit the road for a year,” Dan said. “It had always been my dream to see all the historical sites.”     Periodically stopping at different campgrounds across the country, the couple chose to travel through the northern states in the spring and summer, then experience fall in the Northeast. Their

many stops included the Catskill Mountains in New York State, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and North and South Carolina.     They loved San Antonio’s River Walk and enjoyed getting to see the nation’s great diversity.     For Dan, perhaps most enlightening was his trip to Gettysburg, Pa. The site of one of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles, Gettysburg provided him an opportunity to see the place where fellow Americans fought one another to the death.     “Seeing it in a way was depressing because so many lives were lost,” he said. “It was still an awesome experience. The Civil War fascinates me because it was such a bloody thing.”     The couple also especially enjoyed the opportunity to walk on Boston’s Freedom Trail. The red brick trail is a 2.5-mile path through downtown Boston’s museums, churches and parks. It concludes with a trip through Paul Revere’s house and a tour of the U.S.S. Constitution warship.


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Ferndale Record



Start planning for your kids’ (or grandkids’) retirement today     When our generation was growing up, we were taught about Social Security, and many of us had grandparents who were reasonably comfortable with a combination of their investment income and their government checks.     Today, not so much.     Over the last few years, we have seen the market crash and burn, and Social Security is on its way toward doing the same. So, if we’re scrambling to salvage our retirement income, imagine what it will be like for your kids, or grandkids. If you haven’t done that already, one expert has some good news for you.     Rick Rodgers, a retirement counselor and author of the new book “The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning� (www., believes that parents can help their kids safeguard their retirement by starting now.     “When we were just starting out in life, our parents told us to start saving money right out of the gate, but we didn’t listen,� he said. “Instead, we ran up our credit card debt, spent more than we earned and bought more house than we could afford. But our kids can and should learn from our mistakes, and helping them to start saving now could give them a nest egg of millions instead of thousands.�     Rodgers' advice includes:     Start at 16 – Just $5,000 contributed to a Roth IRA each year for five years starting

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your peak earnings (usually around age 40), switch to a tax-deferred account like a 401(k).     Fun or Fund? – Take half of what you have been spending on gifts (toys, games, etc.) and invest it in a mutual fund for your child, or grandchild.    Birthday Booster - Encourage friends and relatives to contribute to the mutual fund account you’ve started instead of buying gifts for birthdays and holidays.     Every Little Bit Helps – Contributing small amounts on a regular basis is a better strategy than waiting to accumulate a larger sum. Get in the habit of saving something regularly.     Use the Refund – Let the government help. Currently, the child tax credit is $1,000 per child until they reach age 17. Discipline yourself to save the credit when it is returned to you as a refund.     “It doesn’t take a lot to give your kids long-term security,� Rodgers said. “The magic of compounded interest can do more of the heavy lifting as long as you start early and contribute often.�     Rodgers’ expertise in the investment and financial advisory profession began with one of the big Wall Street firms in 1984.Twelve years later, he founded Rodgers & Associates as a way to concentrate on financial planning. His vision was to help families prepare for a worry-free retirement through the creation and conservation of their wealth.

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Ferndale Record

Lynden woman enjoys town activities Snydar frequents YMCA, senior centers Brent Lindquist Tribune sports reporter     LYNDEN — Washington State played in the first-ever Rose Bowl, the Saturday Evening Post ran its first Norman Rockwell cover, and Lynden’s Mildred (Houser) Snydar was born.     All that happened way back in 1916, and Snydar is arguably just as much of a mainstay in the Lynden community as the Rose Bowl is in sports and Rockwell’s paintings are on people’s walls.     Walk into the Lynden YMCA’s Zumba or swim classes on Monday or Friday mornings, and chances are you’ll see Snydar working out and staying active. At 95 years old, she still gets around just fine, thanks in part to her active lifestyle.     Young Mildred lived near Fort Bellingham with her grandparents for much of the early part of her life. She said they lived a modest rural life, growing much of their own food.     “We had our own vegetables, our own cows and our own chickens,” Snydar said.     She was physically active from a very early age, playing a great deal of tennis with her family.     “Our whole family were tennis folks,” she said.     She worked at a dime store until marrying in 1936 at the age of 20. She and her husband, Frank, bought a 36-acre farm for a little over $6,000 in 1943. From there, she worked on the family farm. She and Frank had two daughters, both of whom attended and graduated from Meridian High School and the University of Washington. Daughter Marilyn became the Washington State Dairy Princess in 1959.     Mildred travels a couple of mornings each week to the Lynden YMCA, where she participates in activities like swimming, aerobics and Zumba fitness class. She said the Zumba is intended to help combat osteoporosis, which swimming cannot do because it is not a weight-bearing exercise.     Snydar said she hopes Lynden’s residents realize the many benefits that come

along with living within the town. She takes advantage of the Lynden Community Center and the Lynden Library, in addition to the YMCA, on a regular basis.     “The senior centers are marvelous,” Snydar said. “They have a very nice program nearly every day.”     She frequents the Bellingham Senior Activity Center on Thursdays to participate in the center’s English Country Dance sessions in the afternoon.

    Snydar said she has found so much to do as a senior citizen in Lynden and Bellingham that, on a particularly good day, she will leave around 9 a.m. and often won’t return home until 2:30 p.m.     Along with all her social activities, Snydar is proud to still drive her own car, mow her own lawn, and tend to her own vegetable garden at her house on Ten Mile Road.     “I work as hard as I can,” Snydar said. “I don’t mess around.”     Email Brent Lindquist at

Even at age 95, Mildred Snydar (foreground, near chair), stays active in Zumba, aerobics and swimming classes at the Lynden YMCA. — Tribune photo | BRENT LINDQUIST

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, May 18, 2011 | Ferndale Record



Crabtree: Still no place like home Continued from C5     While visiting historical sites was a highlight, the Crabtrees also cherished the opportunity to worship at different places around the country. Every Saturday, Dan would scout out a church to attend the following day. By trip’s end, the couple had enjoyed services at a variety of unique churches throughout the country.     “Worshipping with the different people and with the different styles of worship was really cool,” Dan said.     For Dan, though, the most exciting part of the experience was attending a NHRA Drag Race in Bristol, Tenn. As a lifelong fan of engines and fast cars, the ear-piercing roars of professional drag racing didn’t faze him.     While Dan took in the history, Diane couldn’t help but come away impressed with the people she met around the country.     “Everywhere we went we just met wonderful people,” she said. “People were really warm on the East Coast and in the Carolinas. The New Yorkers we met were also very kind and loving.”     During their yearlong joyride, the Crabtrees never really faced adversity of any kind. Their Dodge Dakota never had any trouble, and perhaps most impressively, Dan was never pulled over.     While the humidity in the South made life uncomfortable at times, the road trip was still an unquestioned success. After seeing nearly the entire country, Diane couldn’t help but acknowledge it was nice to arrive back home a few weeks ago.     “Even after traveling the United States, there is no place like northwest Washington,” she said.

Dan and Diane Crabtree are back home on Markworth Road after taking a year to tour the United States via their 19-foot travel trailer. In all, with all side trips counted in, the truck put on 138,000 miles in the year. — Lynden Tribune | ADAM LEWIS

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May 2011 Senior Life  

A look at senior life in Whatcom County