Transitions Special Section
Retirees ready, but say leaving jobs they love is ‘bittersweet’
By Joe Stumpe Travel. Grandchildren. Age. Love. These are some of the reasons people give up jobs that have seemed more like callings. But even those compelling reasons don’t make the actual decision to retire easy. The Active Age spoke to five people who recently decided to step away from highly fulfilling careers. All were thankful for the opportunities they’d had to make a difference, comfortable with their next chapters in life and yet a bit wistful. Dona Gibson “Deciding to retire was a decision I had dreaded for years,” said Dona Gibson, who retired from Friends University in December after 40 years with the school. “Fortunately, my wise husband had retired seven years before I did and told me, ‘You’ll
Photo by Cary Conover
Patricia McDonnell, center, retires as director of the Wichita Art Museum this month after 45 years in the art field. from 1991 until her retirement, helped know when it’s time.’ The pandemic create the university’s international actually gave me a practice time to travel and study program and herself begin to slow down and focus on life as a whole rather than life as a career. presented at teaching education But the shorter answer to the question conferences in Kenya and China. The travel program has given more than is rather simple: 40 years sounded like 500 students experience abroad. a good length of time to have made a contribution.” Teaching teachers, Gibson said, was a way of impacting young minds In addition to teaching in the far beyond the walls of her classroom. Division of Education, Gibson “My teaching life for many years directed the master’s teaching program
has been totally devoted to working with graduate students who are already classroom teachers. The experience of accompanying and encouraging them on their journey has given me such an awe and admiration for the huge impact of P-12 teachers on their students’ experience. I hope and believe I’ve had some part to play in their lives.” Gibson’s connection with Friends actually goes back considerably farther than four decades. As an 8-year-old, she attended a symphony concert in Friends’ Alumni Auditorium and told her mother: “I want to live here.” She said colleagues such as Cecil Riney, Moses Rumano and Friends President Amy Carey had a profound effect on her life. Gibson will keep a connection to Friends as a professor emeritus but also is ready for a different focus. “Like every other retiree, definitely traveling more is one plan,” she said. “My volunteer life has picked up dramatically as well, which I highly recommend even to folks still working!” Pat Gallagher Pat Gallagher might have thought See next page
Senior Services and Senior Resources Next chapter
From Page 1 her working career had peaked with her first real adult job when she got hired in Washington, D.C., by a fledging hotel operator. “His name was Bill Marriott,” Gallagher said of the billionaire chairman of what’s now Marriott International. But Gallagher found another job in Wichita that kept her busily engaged in the city’s business community for 40 years. Gallagher worked as government relations manager and military liaison for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce for 32 of those years. She intended to retire eight years ago, but was persuaded to stay on part-time as the liaison until last month. In that job, she chiefly worked with McConnell Air Force Base. “The military has been a part of my job for a long, long time. It’s unique in that a lot of people don’t understand the culture, the lifestyle, the ranks. It was always my favorite part of my job.”
Pat Gallagher Gallagher is best known for helping bringing the KC-46A Pegasus tanker program to McConnell. Basing the aerial refueling tankers here is estimated to have a $200 million economic impact on Kansas annually, while the base’s overall impact is estimated at more than $600 million per year. The first tankers arrived in 2019. “That was probably eight years, maybe 10,” Gallagher said of the work to bring the program here. “We did a lot of lobbying, a lot of congressional work. Fortunately, we had an ‘A team’
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in our congressional delegation, so they were very helpful to us. And also the city and county commission. It was definitely a unified front and a partnership also with Derby and Andover and all the surrounding communities.” Gallagher is proud of another community project that wasn’t directly related to her job but was supported by the chamber: the Boundless Playground in Sedgwick County Park for children of all abilities that was sponsored by the West Sedgwick County Sunrise Rotary Club. Gallagher chaired the effort. “Because I had worked closely with the county for decades, we were able to get in front of the commission, and they granted us that land. I think that was the most personally exciting thing I was involved in outside work, per se.” Retiring “was a hard decision because I absolutely loved what I did,” Gallagher said. “However, I am now 80 years old and I am getting tired. We need to get another generation involved.” She plans to return to the nation’s capital to be near her two grown children; her son is a colonial
archeologist, and her daughter is a federal lobbyist. “When I leave this community, I will definitely stay in touch with it.” Patricia McDonnell Patricia McDonnell always figured she’d lead the Wichita Art Museum until she was at least 70 years old. After all, she isn’t lacking in energy. “I worked 60, 70, sometimes 80 hours a week,” the WAM director, who’s 66, said. “We’re all animated by the work we do.” Then an unexpected thing happened: She fell in love and married the photographer Larry Schwarm in October. “I tried really hard not to work that many hours and couldn’t do it.” McDonnell’s retirement becomes official this month, ending an exciting decade at WAM. Under McDonnell, the museum saw attendance increase by more than 60 percent and its membership rise by 150 percent, with annual gift income doubling and longterm resources growing by $9 million. The same period brought several See next page
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Senior Services and Senior Resources blocker exhibitions to Wichita, including Monet to Matisse in 2018, Georgia O’Keeffe: Art, Image, Style in 2019 and American Art Deco this year. “With Monet, we doubled our membership within a year,” McDonnell said. The museum’s own collection grew by a third thanks to acquisitions of folk art, work by the Prairie Print Makers, Preston Singletary, Schwarm and others. There were physical changes to WAM, starting with the Art Garden’s creation in 2015, a $3.3 million project. “That wholly transformed our grounds, but I would tell you it also transformed our building,” McDonnell said. “This is a high-modern, strippedof-ornamentation building that’s not going to be to everybody’s taste,
but when the grounds around it are undulating and lush, with over 200 plants and 100 trees, it really made a difference.” WAM renovated some interior spaces in 2020 and this year saw the installation of dramatic new entry art commissioned from Beth Lipman. “It’s massive, it’s spectacular,” McDonnell said. “Animating the lobby to elevate the visitor experience was part of a strategic plan we developed four years ago, and oh my gosh, (Lipman’s work) does it.” Then there’s WAM’s first-ever diversity, equity and inclusion policy, which was approved by its board in December with the goal of making sure all visitors feel welcome. As many brides know, McDonnell also
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rescinded the rule against weddings at WAM as one of her first moves. McDonnell called the decision to retire “hard and bittersweet.” She imagines more gardening, travel and fiction reading are in her future, hinting that she may also return to art history and scholarship, her original specialty. But she’s not sorry she spent a good part of her career running WAM. “I was drawn into the art world by just a very serious passion for art. It just turns me on. Over the years, I’ve grown, and the greater deeper personal reward for me is the social purpose of art museums. It’s the people who come. The art is on our walls to transform lives.” Greg Bogue Dr. Greg Bogue did more than just retire when he left Bogue Animal Hospital earlier this year. He ended a 92-year run by veterinarians named Bogue in Wichita. “For me, it was a very bittersweet thing. I loved what I did. I was blessed and humbled to be able to serve people over the years, including people I picked up from dad and granddad and my Uncle Robert.” Bogue performed nearly 5,000 surgeries on pets during his 31 years of practice in Wichita while serving about 17,000 clients, many with multiple pets. That includes many dogs and cats but also pot-bellied pigs, snakes, birds, ferrets, goats, rabbits and even a few chimps, horses, cows and sheep. The thriving practice employed hundreds of dog walkers, groomers and other kennel staff through the years.
Greg Bogue Bogue was appointed to the Kansas Board of Veterinary Examiners by governors from both political parties, serving three years as its president. Despite his family background, Bogue didn’t actually set out to become a veterinarian. After graduating in the 1970s from Kansas State University, where he also played for the football team, he worked in the feed manufacturing industry. Bogue returned to K-State to earn his veterinary degree in 1991, but not before surviving an early bout with colon cancer. He worked with his father for about a year before taking over the business with his wife, Cindy, in 1993. “I had the privilege of carrying the family name for a third of the time we were in business.” Another huge challenge arrived with the Halloween flood of 1998, See next page
Pharmacy, Healthcare, Aging in Place which threatened to ruin the hospital’s new building. “It was a punch, but there were a lot of great people that came along and helped us,” Bogue said. “We lost one day of business, and we had water up to our waist, moving fast and cold. We had live animals in the building.
We lived in a state of disorganized organization for probably six weeks. Everybody just kind of bucked up, you might say.” Bogue sold the business to a company with about 500 veterinary practices nationwide three years ago. “They want the community aspect
left intact, and I want it. I tried to get things lined up for the staff I have, which is very good.” Bogue said the sale “wasn’t out of being disgruntled by any stretch” but was about making “the time to do more of what you want.” “I’m pushing 69, so what do you do?” Now that will include more volunteering and travel, becoming even more active in the couple’s church, spending time at a second home on Table Rock Lake and spending time with six grandchildren divided between North Texas and the Kansas City area. It’s about “being able to come and go when we want, to get caught back up on watching ballgames, like many grandparents like to do.”
Jan Haberly, left, with staff of the Lord’s Diner. Jan Haberly When Jan Haberly took over running the Lord’s Diner a decade ago, it consisted of a single facility on North Broadway serving dinner to those who need it 365 days a year. Today, there are two more Lord’s See next page
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Real Estate, Aging in Place Diners — on South Hillside and in Pittsburg, Kan. — plus three food trucks and one more mobile unit on the way. The multiple Diners have served more than 6.5 million meals since 2002. The continued need to combat hunger here is nothing to celebrate, but it’s somewhat frightening to consider what might have happened without the Diners. “We care for people that can’t take care of themselves,” Haberly said. “We don’t judge. It’s easy to say, ‘Why don’t you quit doing drugs?’ or ‘Why don’t you get a job?’ But it’s not easy.” Now, Haberly is retiring from that work, although it’s not because of any less passion for it. “It’s a horrible decision, but I kind of set a milestone,” she said. “Ken (her husband) just retired a year ago. He’s just enjoying it so much I thought I needed to do that. None of us know how long we’ve got. I’m young and healthy and want to take advantage of that.” Haberly said she will aways appreciate the way the community
supports the Lord’s Diner — both in terms of donations and volunteering — which is what allowed it to grow. To some extent, she said, the work grew more challenging in recent years. “When I started, the homeless clientele were just a different breed. Today, there’s a whole lot more mental illness and drugs. I think a lot of them try to self-medicate.” Then the pandemic hit, and the Diners started serving all meals to go. Clients who had some kind of housing or shelter to take their food to actually seemed to like the change, Haberly said. Those without it “suffered. They had to sit outside and eat.” Some also grew “wilder” without the restrictions the Diners put on people eating inside. The Diners recently started serving dinner inside again, although they may keep the to-go option for people who want it. Haberly said she and her husband plan to spend more time with their grandchildren and travel. “We have a motor home. We’re still trying to decide how to do it. Neither one of us has really seen a lot of the United States.”
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Memory Care Navigating dementia and family expectations
By Robert Miller While dementia affects people differently, there are common milestones. Knowing them may help families prepare for each step. Start with acceptance In an ideal scenario, families have conversations earlier than the onset of illness. If you’ve noticed a loved one being forgetful, foggy or behaving in unusual ways, it’s important not to dismiss those moments and be in denial about the potential for dementia or other health concerns. It can be difficult to accept that a loved one may be showing signs of a decline. Find the courage to have conversations with your family early in the process. Along the way, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may behave in ways that are unrecognizable, or a care plan in place one day may not work the next. For these reasons and more, it’s important for families to remain flexible. Have a plan A and a plan B. And don’t wait to consult with medical experts or look for care options that fit your needs. Expect to put someone in charge All families can sometimes have complicated dynamics. Often, though, one person can be counted on to take charge of family matters when there is a reunion to plan or a health crisis occurs. That person often becomes the primary family caregiver at the beginning of the journey. The primary caregiver is the one who steps in and provides part- or
full-time care. And, at some point, that person may become physically and emotionally stressed and worn out. Expect that there will come a point in the journey where personal care at home may no longer be best for the entire family. If you are the primary caregiver, be honest with yourself and your family about what you need and what you cannot do. At some point, expect to promote the primary family “caregiver” to a “care manager,” placing them in charge of a team that can reach beyond professional caregivers and include other family, a financial advisor, physicians, estate attorney and others. The “care manager” is the person who can help build agreement within the family and team for next steps of needed care, speak for the family and make tough choices. Honest conversations When families begin looking for full-time care options for a parent or grandparent, this is inevitably a stressful time for everyone involved. This is also a time to face difficult truths, including the current reality that the journey of decline will continue for your loved one. We can’t make the disease go away at this point. It’s time to ask, “What do you want the future to look like? What does caregiving look like? What do you want the next few months or years to look like for your family?” It’s also important to set aside unhealthy expectations. If you are choosing a particular dementia-care
option because you’re trying to make the person with dementia happy, that may be a hope but not a realistic goal. Focus on what is best for the safety and care of everyone in the home. While difficult, choosing to place your loved one in full-time care can bring peace of mind that a loved one is getting the best care possible, which benefits everyone in the family. Choosing full-time care can also mean protecting the safety, health and well-being of others in the family, especially the primary caregiver. Build relationships and partnerships When it’s time to move your loved one to full-time care, be prepared to see caregivers as partners on the journey. And the more information shared between the family and professionals, the better the relationship. The concept of patient-centered care revolves around the idea that the more you know about someone, the better you will naturally care for them. Professional caregivers can’t know everything that you know. They
need you to be the expert for your family to educate them about your mom or dad. In turn, be prepared to recognize professional caregivers for the professionals they are. Allow them to be the experts about how the disease will stage and how to best care for that situation. Sometimes probing questions can feel uncomfortable for families. Some people may feel as if they are being judged for the level of care provided so far, or they may feel guilty about passing off the care duties to professionals. Finally, expect and accept that one day the journey will come to an end. Caring for my grandmother during her last eight years taught me amazing things — about her and about myself. I miss her, and I love her. I have grief, but in celebrating her I have found joy in her continued presence in my life. Robert Miller is a licensed social worker and senior vice president of company development for Comfort Care Homes.
Independent and Assisted Living, Memory Care Don’t leave future of meaningful possessions to chance
By Leslie Chaffin I grew up with a mom who had no qualms talking about “when I’m gone.” I only wish my father had been part of those conversations. I’m pretty sure mom never imagined that the things she treasured would almost all wind up in the living estate sale when my parents moved from their home to a senior community as her dementia progressed. As their only child, there were a number of pieces of Native American art and pottery that I expected to add to my own collection. But my father placed no sentimentality on these things, and the estate sale person told him he had to have a certain number of items that were worth $100 or more to do the sale. He didn’t talk to me about what I wanted until he was sorting things out for the sale. I was able to rescue a couple of pieces. If you don’t decide what happens to your worldly possessions, someone else will do it for you, and that may disappoint family and friends.
For Nancy Anderson, who has four grown children and more than a dozen grandchildren, the process of deciding who will get what began when the Valley Center cemetery had a sale on plots. “We purchased our two plots and then got our pre-planning done, including our wills.” By the time her husband, Les, unexpectedly died of a heart attack at age 62, they had been talking to their children about what items they would like when they are both gone. Anderson contrasted that approach with a family she knows of whose Nancy Anderson (sixth from the right), talked with her family about children drew numbers to decide things they would like to inherit. who would choose among their grandparents’ possessions first. included in a will, they are dispersed about the things he wants and which “The more you talk about what by the executor of the estate to family things he has no interest in. That’s a happens when we die, the less morbid members as the executor sees fit. “no” to my grandmother’s cedar chest it becomes,” Anderson noted. This process leaves out friends, and and a “yes” to the three broadswords. “If you can decide ahead of time, anything not specified usually goes to For some pieces in my collection put names on the things family or an estate sale. In Kansas, you can make of Native American objects, I’m friends have admired or you would like a Personal Property Memorandum to making a list of museums to contact them to have,” added Anderson. “Then be attached to your will. It should read that might be interested in them. I do include that list with your will.” “Personal Property Memorandum” at not want them to wind up on an estate Unless specified items are the top, then list the item(s) and who sale. For other pieces, I have checked is to receive it, then sign at the bottom. out specialty auction houses to include Of course, it’s a good idea to talk to in will instructions. Another collection the intended recipient to make sure will be sold and proceeds donated to a the item in question is something they horse rescue. really want. Though I don’t have to worry Another option is the approach about a contested will, I want to taken by my mother-in-law, who make sure these special items have a is 94. She decided that instead of good home or will help a good cause. waiting until she dies to have her Ultimately, this is what we want for things dispersed, she will give them to those things that hold special meaning designees when they visit. to us. In my case, with my son being the Contact Leslie Chaffin at end of the family line, we’ve talked email@example.com.
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Home Health and Hospice Care Three tips for a healthier lifestyle Family Features Unhealthy diets and other habits are a risk you shouldn’t take. Here are three tips to start living a healthier lifestyle. Follow a heart healthy diet Too much sugar and salt can lead to high blood pressure, putting you potentially at risk for heart diseases. Take time to read the nutrition labels and choose foods lower in sodium and sugar, or consider trying spices and herbs as a healthier alternative to salt. Another good idea is avoiding trans fats and saturated fats in fast food and fatty meats such as sausage and bacon. Whole grains a good source of fiber that can help regulate blood pressure and lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Incorporate vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains into your diet to increase your fiber intake.
Get some exercise Exercise can make both your body and heart stronger. The American Heart Association recommens at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week — or 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Forms can include walking, running, swimming, playing tennis and more. It’s also important to incorporate strength training exercises into your work at least twice a week.
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Retirement Communities Music fan now making his own The Active Age When Byron West was young, he took piano lessons for about three years before giving it up. “I wanted to be outside playing sports more,” he said, adding that he “thought I was going to be a professional athlete.” West remembers his father’s words: “You know, you’re going to regret that.” He did not become a professional athlete, and he did regret not sticking with music. Over the years, West would look at musicians on stage and think, “Wouldn’t it be neat to be able to play something?” “When I retired, I decided I wanted to do it,” West said. “This was to keep my mind active and to learn a new skill.” At least, that was his original thought. But it developed into something more. West retired from a career in sales in 2020, and someone suggested he
pick up guitar instead of piano. He lives in Andover and began taking guitar lessons there at the Music Scene. Before long, he owned three guitars, in part because his music teacher suggested an electric guitar would be easier to play because the strings are thinner. “I’m sort of a rock music fan, so I could play some music in the way that it was recorded using an electric guitar,” West said. He’s a big fan of rock “power chords,” as chords that make full use of a guitar amplifier are known. “I love strong guitars, strong riffs.” The Music Scene owner mentioned to West that a group of people played together in the store’s back room on Tuesdays. “Most of them are retirees or at least middle age,” West said. He pointed out the short time he’d been playing but was assured it would be fine. West discovered that the group plays rock and country from the 1960s
and ‘70s along with a few contemporary tunes. “I just thought it was a practice session, and then all of a sudden, they said, ‘Well, you know, we have a gig coming up.’ And I said, ‘What?’” The band, Courtesy photo known as Bryon West, left, performs with other members of Meg Meg and the and the Moondogs. Moondogs, played for the West said that playing in a band 10th anniversary of the Music Scene forces him to keep time and play the and then got some nursing home gigs. right notes at the right time. “I’m finding out there’s a real “It keeps you accountable,” he said. market for that,” West said. “The neat thing about being in a group He’s not sure they’ll make it to any is it makes you better.” bars to play. “We’re sort of in our infancy.”
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Two Derby artists were recognized for their work in the Art is Ageless calendar produced by Presbyterian Manors of MidAmerica. Skip Kreibach, above with Gov. Laura Kelly, exhibited a painting titled Lamp and Tea Kettle, part of the 2020 calendar. Mark Ward, right, displayed a painting called Fresh Start, included in the 2021 calendar.
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