It was like a scene from school days when our art teachers released our creative urges with finger paint and broad expanses on which to play.  On Tuesday, December 10 the entire community was invited to a free for all Paint Party on the ground level hallway outside of the Plymouth Harbor Art Studio.

Resident artists – from the seasoned pro to the rank novice – picked up a brush and palette, pastels or whatnot to create their own design and make their unique mark on the walls that will soon come down to make way for the Wellness Center renovations.

Fran Knight and Maureen Aldrich, two of the Art Studio stalwarts, planned this special event for weeks in advance with some very specific goals in mind.  Of course, this Paint Party was a festive way to celebrate the transition of the old studio – grown tired from almost two decades of constant use and accumulation of old stuff – to the new, which will be available to artists this Spring with the unveiling of the new Wellness Center.

Many of the active studio artists participated on that first day and there were guest painters as well.  Beverly Vernon, one of the bright newer stars of the studio, created the “talk of the show” in her splash painting inspired by the chaotic drips and splashes of the famed expressionist Jackson Pollack.  Bev said she’s always wanted to try throwing paint at a wall and her results were spectacular.

Other artists took their cues from Vasily Kandinsky, the Russian artist credited with the first abstract paintings.  Kandinsky’s abstract circle designs in tightly contained squares inspired a long series of colorful patterns down the southern wall.

Pat Barkoff, a studio regular, aimed for whimsy with a giant rabbit, where on the opposite wall “windows” revealing two imagined, yet realistic worlds, from our artist/organizers Maureen and Fran.  Their trompe l’oeil designs created the illusion that these windows on the interior wall looked out onto Sarasota Bay filled with sailboats, a blue sky with birds and bright cheerful orange geraniums blooming in the window boxes.

A Yellow line, yet another illusion painted right now the center of the hallway floor, served as our yellow brick road ending at the glimmering green Emerald City on the far wall arising from a bright red field of poppies. Thanks to Maureen for that extra touch.

Isabel Pedersen and Celia Catlett were also adding their own fanciful art. Celia created a William Morris design with sidewalk chalk on the wall.  Bill Murtagh painted a cook in homage to the tasty creations of dining services and Jim Myers, our director of Environmental Services and lounge pianist, scratched out a stick man (bless his heart!)

Maureen and Fran smiled and watched as a parade of residents who rarely sought out the art studio came down the hallway to admire the work in progress.  Over the next week days and weeks leading to the holidays, more visitors strolled through the crowd-created exhibit.   That extra bit of attention was all part of the plan, according to Maureen.

“Our primary purpose was to create an event that included and attracted all residents, not just those of us who actively use the art studio,” Fran added.  “The new art studio will not be larger in square footage and it will likely still accommodate up to 11 individual artist work stations. However, the new studio is expected to be organized in such a way to be even more functional space for group workshops and classes.”

There are great expectations for a “renaissance” for this thriving little arts community. Their excitement about the plans was all the more evident when Joanne Hastings, one of their first visiting artists, arrived on the floor accompanied by executive staff Harry Hobson, Tena Wilson, Becky Pazkowski and Gordon Okawa.  It is thanks to the vision and a generous gift from Joanne that the Wellness Center renovations could begin to take form.  Now with construction beginning, it is clearly an exciting time for the entire community.

Joanne, a long-time art aficionado and artist herself in younger years, nonetheless picked up a brush again and proceeded to create a charming vision of a tree. “Frankly, I was impressed with her impressionistic technique,” Maureen later shared.

The nature of some art is that while universal or ageless, only a very small percentage of created art lasts forever.  Some say art is truly in the making and creative process.  When the walls are torn down to make way for the exciting new future of Wellness at Plymouth Harbor, these ephemeral gems (and scribbling) will give way to bright new memories.  Here’s to a Happy and Artful New Year!

By Ila Preti

Give a hearty welcome to delightful, talented Helen Kelly who joined us in October!  Many of us knew her from her very active participation in many community organizations.

Born in Manhattan, Helen attended Cathedral High School.  She graduated with a B.S. from Mt. St. Vincent College in Riverdale; her major was Business Administration.

Her career began as an Advertising Agency Account Executive at J. Walter Thompson and Abbott Kimball.  She later became the Fashion Advertising Director at the New Yorker Magazine.  (This is where she met Jane Smiley who later introduced her to Sarasota and, much later, to Plymouth Harbor.)

Helen married John Love Kelly in 1952; living in Cortland Manor, N.Y., they raised two children, Janet and J. Scott.  Their four grandchildren are scattered around the country.  Helen enjoys following the exploits of her son who lives in Salt Lake City and is an avid triathlon participant.

When they retired from the advertising world, Helen and John moved to Siesta Key where they lived for eleven happy years.  After her husband’s death in 2004, Helen moved to a beautiful ‘tree house’ in the Landings.

Helen’s community service record is spectacular.  At the Women’s Resource Center she has been a board member, newsletter editor and Scholarship committee co-chair.  A former board member of the Sarasota Orchestra Association, Helen was the editor of their newsletter.  She worked on the Selby Library Reading Festival.  As a former member of the Mission Valley Golf Club, she was on the staff of their Valley Views newsletter.

Helen now attends classes at the USF Lifetime Learning program, studying ‘Great Books’ and Creative Writing; her memoirs are the current writing project.  She is interested in the theatre and subscribes to the Asolo and Florida Studio Theatres.  She also enjoys the Town Hall lecture series.

While she has many happy memories to look back on, she remembers, with special fondness, a ‘home exchange’ with a family from Montremont, France (near Lyon).  Welcomed there by the family and friends of the exchange couple, it was a memorable month.

An active, dynamic woman with an infectious smile, we look forward to Helen Kelly’s involvement in Plymouth Harbor!

Originally from Hungary, Ibolya Elizabeth Acs, is known to her Plymouth Harbor family as Liz, a dedicated member of the housekeeping and laundry operations staff.  Liz has been a resident of the USA since 1984, and prior to coming to Plymouth Harbor, she worked at Kobernick House and Kensington Manor.  Starting as a full time Housekeeper in May 2005, Liz has since transferred to Plymouth Harbor’s laundry operation demonstrating her flexibility and ability to multi-task, a quality noted often in her appraisals.

Frequently recognized for her great attitude, her supervisors describe Liz as cooperative, knowledgeable, helpful, and always on the go. “Liz loves to keep busy.  She can work in any area, from cleaning apartments to laundry.  She takes pride in her work.  She enjoys her job very much and will go above and beyond our expectations.”

Residents and co-workers, who frequently award her Shining Stars, often point out the cooperative and kind demeanor that Liz always displays. For many reasons, including her great attitude and willingness to go the extra mile, Liz has been honored as the December 2013 Plymouth Harbor Employee of the Month.

Liz can feel proud of her accomplishments at Plymouth Harbor. Even more, as one co-worker observed, “We know she feels very proud to be part of the Plymouth Harbor family.”

Asked about life-long passions, Naomi Wittenberg gives what some would consider a conventional response for a woman. “My husband,” she answered, speaking of Simeon “Sim” Wittenberg, the man with whom she traded insults on first meeting and later shared 62 years of marriage together.

However, Naomi is far from a conventional woman, whatever that is. A self-declared feminist schooled at Boston University, she and her husband were equal in all their endeavors.  Deep love, enduring partnerships and the resourceful strength of the immigrant experience are her family heritage, so it’s not surprising to find all these qualities in her description of her own married life. Naomi says Sim, now seven years gone, was a stimulating companion and her one passion to the end.  Her eyes say he still is.

Partners in parenting, they raised two smart, strong daughters in Syosset, Long Island in New York.   They were very involved in their community, and the schooling of their daughters. For many years, Sim was the President of the Central School District #2 and Naomi was a leader in the New York State PTA.

They were business partners as well throughout those years building Wit-Craft Electric Corporation from the ground up.  Sim was the technical lead while Naomi led the business side, yet they taught each other all they knew and built Wit-Craft as a team.  Naomi understood the business inside and out and became quite comfortable in the world of electrical systems, motors and controls. Her no-nonsense confidence earned respect and the business of men who were at first ready to discount this woman in a man’s role.

After 35 years they sold the business so they could travel the world, which they did for another 20 years.  One glance around Naomi’s East Garden home is a tour of many cultures and includes a collection of original art by Bjørn Wiinblad, a renowned Danish designer and artist in ceramics, silver, bronze, textiles, and graphics.  She confesses that as an ardent Fund Shop shopper, she’s picked up many other treasures of which she is fond.

When Sim and Naomi moved to Sarasota in 1998, they found another world in which they could indulge a shared passion – theatre.  Sarasota’s rich theatre culture afforded them the opportunity to both support this favorite art form, as well as participate.  As members of the Asolo (Rep)Theatre Guild,  they were instrumental in the activities of the Guild Play Readers group.

“Sim loved acting.  He was a ham, and I was organized,” said Naomi. “We presented readings throughout the community to promote the Asolo, and,” she emphasized, “most importantly, to raise funds making it possible for public school students to attend live, professional theatre performances.”

Children, business, travel and now, theatre, had become the focus of their intensely involved lives together. “Sim loved acting, and I was organized,” said Naomi.  They moved into Plymouth Harbor together in August of 2006 only to be shocked shortly thereafter with news that Sim was gravely ill.  January 2007 found Naomi broken hearted.  The couple had looked forward to joining the Plymouth Harbor Players, but she was not ready to take the stage alone.  One year later it was a different story.

By the 2008-2009 theatre season, Naomi stepped in to adapt, produce and direct “The Cynthia Caper,” an early script by Howard Biermann, the resident who had written 19 of the 28 original plays performed annually by the troupe over the years.

The indomitable Naomi continues to follow this passion, now entering her seventh season with the Plymouth Harbor Players as the producer that pulls everything together. Her partners in theatre crime are now Peg and Don Wallace and they have great plans for this year’s production.

“The Stash on the 17th Floor,” another script by Don Wallace, includes multi-media surprises.   There will be no formal auditions this year, but rather residents are invited to gather on Tuesday, December 10 and Wednesday, December 11 from 2 to 4 pm in the Mezzanine conference room where there will be informal readings of the play and a discussion of all the roles, on-stage and off-stage, available.  This means the readings are not just for actors, but also for anyone wanting to serve backstage with props, lighting, prompting, costumes, or any other supporting crew role.

The performances will be at 8 pm on Tuesday, February 25, and at 2 and 8 pm on Wednesday, February 26.

Producing the Plymouth Harbor plays is a lot of hard work, but Naomi probably enjoys that collaborative effort as much as the audience enjoys the result.  It’s clear that she’s not one to do anything half-heartedly. Committed and passionate about her family – daughters, granddaughters, and great-grandchildren – as well as political and community matters, Naomi knows what is important in her life.

 

Chris and Karen Romig, a classically trained flute and piano duo, have been performing together for 15 years.  Plymouth Harbor audiences enjoy many performances throughout the year by visiting artists. The Romig Duo’s concert on Thursday, November 21 at 7:45 pm in Pilgrim Hall is yet another example of gracious living.

Karen Romig has played in orchestras in California and Florida and over the years has won many awards in prestigious competitions. She studied with Arthur Hoberman of the 20th Century-Fox studio orchestra and continued studies with Bonita Boyd, Julius Baker, Anne Giles, Amy Porter, Rhonda Larson, and Carol Wincenc. She has also been a featured soloist Crystal Cathedral, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Young Artists Music Festival, and with the Venice Symphony.

As an ordained minister at Venice Presbyterian, Chris uses his keyboard skills at special services as well as often accompanying his wife.  Together they provide a charming program of uplifting entertainment and dazzling virtuosity.

Their program:

  •  Wilhelm Popp:  La Chasse (Galop Brillante for Flute and Piano)
  • Gabriel Faure:  Morceau De Concours
  • Ian Clarke:  Sunstreams
  • Ernesto Nazareth: I Caught You Cavaquinho!
  • Rhonda Larson:  The Way of the River
  • Claude Bolling:  Madrigal (from “Picnic Suite”)
  • Andrae Crouch (arranged by Joel Raney):  Soon and Very Soon
  • Paul Taffanel:  Fantasie on Themes from the Opera Francoise de Rimini
CDS on sale after the one hour concert – “Flute and Piano Music from Around the World” and the newly released “A Joyous Christmas.”

It’s that joyful time of the year again when people travel around the world to visit family and friends for the holidays.  Preparing for a big trip may be stressful and time-consuming, but make sure you reference the following tips before travelling:

1)      Tell your doctor about the itinerary that you have for your trip.  She/he knows you and your limitations well and will inform you if she/he thinks any activities or plans sound too strenuous.

2)      Depending on your destination, you may need certain immunizations, so make sure you are up-to-date with them.  For information on immunizations, visit the Center for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/.

3)        Pack enough medicine for yourself and make sure the medicine is in the original bottle, in case you need to call for a refill.

4)      If you have a heart issue, bring a copy of your most recent cardiogram with you.  In case you  have an episode while travelling, the doctor will be able to use it as a reference.

5)     Research doctors’ offices, hospitals, and urgent care centers that are close to your destination, in case of an emergency.

6)     Make sure you pack fitness equipment, like a band or tube, and ask the Wellness Center for an exercise handout, so you can continue to exercise while away from home!

7)     Stretch frequently when taking long flights and drives by moving your legs and ankles often and walking around the plane or rest areas.  This will prevent blood clots that could form from not moving for long periods of time.

8)    Don’t over book yourself!  Planning too many activities in one day can cause exhaustion.  Pace yourself by spreading your activities out and adding rest in between.

9)    If you are going to be walking long distances, consider bringing a cane or walker with you.  Even if you don’t use a walking device on a day-to-day basis, it might be helpful to have the extra support during a long, eventful day.

10)   Contact any airports you will be using to find out, concierge, and special policies to help older adults travel smoothly.

Reference:  Cornell University.  Travel Tips for Older Adults.  Cornell Ageing.  Retrieved October 10, 2013 from http://cornellaging.org/.

 

Resident Snapshot by Lee Yousri

Yet another interesting couple has joined our ranks!

Jeanne is a native New Yorker while George hails from Minnesota, but no matter how far apart, the fates do a good job when two people are meant to meet.  The Air Force training centers were full and students were being trained in private colleges.  George ended up in the University of Connecticut.  Not too far from New York.  And then an arranged blind date!  Our story begins.

It was a typical 50’s New York date.  They went to a TV taping of “Your Hit Parade” and then on to Birdland.  One tiny incident worth mentioning to show the disparity of their backgrounds: at one point as they reached their subway station, George was nowhere to be seen.  Jeanne finally discovered him still on the train, standing politely back while other passengers alighted.  Not exactly New York style.

Meetings ensued.  Jeanne visited grandparents in Massachusetts.  Connecticut was not too far away.  George was transferred to Washington.  New York was close by.  Step by step, it all led to their marriage in beautiful Riverside Church in Manhattan.

After a few years in Washington, George terminated his active duty in the Air Force and went into the reserves.  They both enrolled in the University of Minnesota.  George earned his BS there and an MBA at Capital College.  Through friends in the YMCA he became a staff member of the Minnesota Republican party and progressed to administrative assistant to the governor.  Ultimately though, he realized it was not a life-time option for him.  In looking for an exit from politics, a friend suggested Life Insurance and was instrumental in the start of his new career as a salesman for North American Insurance.  (Yet another domicile for the Mansers: Columbus, OH, for 23 years.)  Born to succeed—it appears—George went from salesman to president to CEO of North American.

And what was Jeanne up to?  A family had been started during the college years: it evolved into four children, eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  From the very beginning, Jeanne’s hands were full and the lovely family outcome can only be attributed to her devotion and hard work.

When it came time to think about retirement, they made plans to research both Florida coasts.  Fortunately for us, they explored the west coast first and purchased a condo on Siesta Key.  After many years, they moved to the Essex House in Sarasota but kept the condo in Siesta Key.  It is now a big treat for the family to have this lovely vacation haven by the sea.

They both have always volunteered and it remains a constant today.  George is currently chairman of the Pines of Sarasota and spends three days a week at work there.  Hobbies?  His: travel, golf.  Hers: furniture refinishing, exercising, gardening, to name a few.  The Essex House condo was sold before the move to Plymouth Harbor.  Their loss is our gain.

By Don Wallace

The scene:  a parlor in a Portland, Maine, church.  It is a Sunday evening in the early 1950’s; the pastor is opening a social meeting of a group of young people in their late teens and early twenties.  As they sit in a quiet circle, the pastor starts the proceedings by stating that formal introductions are probably unnecessary since they doubtless know one another by now.  However, one young man raises his hand, points across the room and says, “I don’t know that girl in the red dress,” which was the way the lives of Walter Mattson and Geraldine Horsman became entwined.

It turned out that they had gone to the same high school in Portland, Walt having arrived in town for his senior year after a much-traveled youth.  Along the way he had shown an obsessive interest in newspapers and the printing business, delivering papers, working as a printer’s devil (one step below an apprentice) at his uncle’s weekly newspapers in Pittsburgh during the summer vacations and, after arriving in Portland, had landed a job at a commercial printing plant, with time out for active duty in the Marines during the Korean war.  Once out of the service, and after he and Gerry had married, he attended college while working full-time nights as a linotype operator at the Portland Press Herald and she worked as a legal secretary with the lead lawyer in the largest firm in Portland.

After he graduated, they moved to Pittsburgh, where Walt worked as advertising manager of two weekly newspapers while attending Carnegie Mellon University at night and Gerry worked for a lawyer in the city.  After that, they packed their bags and moved to Boston where Walt became assistant production manager at the Herald Traveler and attended Northeastern University at night where he earned an electrical engineering degree to go with his business/accounting degree.  For extra money, Gerry typed theses and papers for Harvard Law School students.  Then in 1960 came the big break: a job as assistant production manager of the New York Times.  From then, the promotions came in quick succession until, in 1979, Walt was named president of the New York Times Company.

All this time, when she wasn’t busy packing and unpacking, Gerry was involved with their growing family, working as a school teacher and as a legal secretary—until they settled in Stamford, Connecticut, and eventually built a home complete with a tennis court and swimming pool.  When the children were a little older, Gerry finished her work on a BA at the Stamford branch of the University of Connecticut.

Their introduction to Sarasota came in 1982, when Walt was involved in negotiating the purchase of the Sarasota Herald Tribune on behalf of the Times.  In 1983 they bought a condo on Longboat Key, where they spent half of the year until Walt retired in 1993.  The Mattson’s are the parents of three children, Stephen, William and Carol and have 11 grandchildren.

(A personal note: as a Times reader for some 65 years, I approached this biography with considerable trepidation, but found Walt and Gerry to be gracious, informal, plain-spoken and totally approachable.  And so will you. – author, Don Wallace)

With Plymouth Harbor located just on the other side of the lovely arching bridge from downtown Sarasota, nothing could be more convenient than a short drive to any number of distinctive downtown dining locales and then a evening at the theatre or opera within a couple blocks walking distance.

Florida Studio Theatre, known simply as FST, is hardly a block from the bay and is a favorite of many Plymouth Harbor residents.  On Thursday, October 17, 2013, the Acting Apprentices of FST are coming right here to perform in Pilgrim Hall at 7:45 pm.  It’s an even more convenient evening’s pastime after a fine dinner prepared by Chef Rene in the Mayflower Dining Room.

2012-13 Acting Apprentices

FST’s “Moments of Discovery” offers an array of theatrical forms including  monologues, poems, scenes, and even award-winning plays from FST’s renowned Write-a-Play program which every year recognizes and celebrates young playwrights.  The performers this evening are all actors participating in the Florida Studio Theatre Acting Apprentice Program.

The purpose of the Acting Apprentice program is to help bridge the gap between academic theatre and the professional world and to provide additional training and experience to those individuals who are serious about careers as professional actors.  The program offers practical and educational training in a professional theatre environment and includes classes, workshops, rehearsals and performances such as the one we will enjoy here at Plymouth Harbor.

About Florida Studio Theatre

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is Sarasota’s contemporary theatre, located in the heart of downtown. It has been in operation in Sarasota since 1973. The Florida Studio Theatre campus is a village of theatres – the historic Keating and Gompertz Theatres, and the Parisian-style Goldstein and John C. Court Cabarets. Near the Sarasota bayfront, FST brings an energy and vitality to the downtown area. Each theatre is small in size and large in impact – providing an intimate and engaging setting for high-quality, professional performances. Hip and historical, entertaining and challenging, we are the theatre where the street meets the elite, where everyone is welcome to come and engage in the art of theatre.

During its history, FST has grown into a theatre with a budget of over $4 million and 25,000 subscribers a year, more than any theatre its size in the country.

FST has modeled itself on the strength of creating the best in contemporary theatre at an affordable price. Overall, FST serves over 160,000 attendees per year through its major programs: the Mainstage Series, the Cabaret Series, Stage III, WRITE A PLAY, Education, and New Play Development.

By Becky Pazkowski

Last month I wrote about Rath and Hartner’s book Well Being: The Five Essential Elements.  The authors  studied 23,000 people and found that there are five broad categories of well being that are essential to a thriving life: career, social, financial, physical and community wellbeing.  What  they found to be the single biggest threat to our own wellbeing is ourselves.  They go on to discuss items in each of the five categories that tend to be essential to a thriving wellbeing, and within our control.

In the chapter on Community Wellbeing (the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live) they suggest that thriving community wellbeing is about what we do to give back to our community.  They go on to explain that giving back is what may distinguish an exceptional life from a good one.

Philanthropy takes many forms . . . time, talent, treasure.  Time is perhaps the most valuable gift one can give.  Volunteerism, for many of us, was our first experience with giving.  We may have gotten started through our church group, scouts, school, or with our family.  Giving of one’s time is fulfilling, especially when you know that the time you have volunteered has served as a special purpose and helped someone.

Volunteering at Plymouth Harbor

For several young adults in Sarasota, the gift of time has played a valuable role in life at Plymouth Harbor.  Students from local high schools have been volunteering on Saturday mornings since June of this year to staff eTEAM clinics, where residents receive assistance using electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, computers, etc.

Jeannette and Charles Gehrie, who have received assistance with their cell phones, commented that they have felt the students are patient and knowledgeable.  “They are delightful young adults and they have helped us immensely in using our cell phones more fully and with more ease.”

Marty Buenneke, who has been working mostly with Marinna Okawa from Pine View High School, says, “Marinna has been helping me with email on my computer.  She is very well qualified and has a lovely personality.”

Jim Underwood, who has received assistance from several of the students, comments, “These students are very interesting and dedicated to helping us.  I thought they would be more shy, but they are very outgoing.”

Florence and George Heitler comment:  “The eTEAM was a great idea and truly is a wonderful help to those of us born before the electronic revolution.  Whoever thought of it deserves credit, but members of the eTEAM deserve our sincere thanks.  They are truly life savers for our problems (which seem so simple to them!).  They are kind, non-judgmental, and seem happy to help.  Please tell the e-TEAM how much we appreciate them.”

Sixty-four residents have received instruction from our eTEAM members, who have volunteered over 90 hours since June.  Students receive credit for community service through their high schools, where a minimum of 75 hours are required for graduation in Sarasota County.

Other members of the eTEAM, current and past, include Tamera Miller, Lexi Hart, Angelo Buenano, Grace Seymore, and Evan Pazkowski.  In addition, thank you to the adult volunteers who have helped me facilitate the clinics each week.

We are very grateful to these bright, energetic, and knowledgeable students who have chosen Plymouth Harbor for their volunteerism.  They have certainly answered a need here, thus contributing to something bigger than themselves.  If you wonder if they find enjoyment from volunteering, David Yaegers commented, “I enjoy my visits at Plymouth Harbor because the residents are such interesting people.  I’ve met an inventor, a world-renowned photographer, and a woman who told me all about the times when she lived in New York City.  I’m teaching them how to use technology, but they’re teaching me so much, too!”

Regardless of whether you need help from the eTEAM or not, please feel free to stop by to the Resident Business Office some Saturday morning to meet the team and thank them for their valuable gifts of time.