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Not the Retiring Type

October 2004


So what does a dyed-in-the-wool educator do in retirement?

For the former St. Ambrose professors Scene recently interviewed, life is anything but dull. Still nurturing a love of learning, they are catching up on their reading, traveling to all the places they've dreamed of exploring, and enjoying family, friends and the enthusiasms of their golden years.

They still have something to teach, as well. So here's a chance to catch up with your former teachers, and see what they have to say about what's to come.

Lois Larrabee taught voice lessons in the Music Department for 20 years before retiring in 1997.

Larrabee laughs when asked what she is doing since leaving SAU seven years ago. "What retirement? I still teach private voice lessons and direct the choir and play the organ for my church. I started a hand bell choir and direct occasional skits to dramatize the Gospel of the day.

"My schedule is pretty regulated. Every day I have to prepare for either lessons or rehearsals, or maybe I have a birthday party for one of my three great-grandchildren or one of my ‘music' grandchildren. I have lots of them!

"I've certainly learned how precious time is. Partly that comes from having a heart attack three years ago. You learn to appreciate what you have and be glad for every day. Occasionally I yearn for a little more free time. There's always something turning up that piques my interest and I wish I had the time to pursue it more fully."

Pat Kennedy PhD, professor emeritus, taught English at SAU from 1968 to 1994.

Kennedy says she never seems to have enough time to get everything done in her retirement.

"I golf twice a week and play bridge, and like to take little trips. I just got back from the Dubuque racetrack where greed got the better of me and I lost what I had won. But we had a great time," she laughs.

"I love the freedom of retirement. I can get up when I want to, do crossword puzzles, travel, enjoy my wonderful friends. I had a three-season room built where I can watch the birds and enjoy nature."

She also belongs to two book clubs. "Retirement means I can read for entertainment now. I have a lifelong curiosity about things and use the New York Times as my Web home page. I'm still trying to master the computer and have even hired a tutor to help me.

"I enjoy life, absolutely. I always did have a good time. Now, I try to keep all the parts moving, both spiritually and physically. I never feel I have enough time-don't expect retirement to do that! My advice is to enjoy things while you can."

Leslie Schaefer '49 PhD, associate professor emeritus, taught speech, theatre and mass communication from 1951 to 1987.

One of the most valuable lessons Schaefer says he's learned in retirement is that material goods are not all that important.

"The things you once thought were critical you find are not nearly as important to you. Spiritual values, family values, dear old friends, your health; these are more important. I've had more time to travel, especially to see children and family around the country, and to explore new territory.

"You keep on living and learning! Retirement has afforded me the opportunity to write, and I've published two history books and am working on my memoirs. I've been reading books from my library that had gathered dust during my working years.

"Retirement has meant more time with colleagues who are also retired and for volunteering and civic organizations. I've been able to indulge my interest in running and organizing road races. Most of all, I've enjoyed time with my wife now that the children have left the roost.

"Looking back, I've been blessed in so many ways. Maybe the financial rewards weren't as great, working in education rather than in business, but I wouldn't give away the camaraderie I had at St. Ambrose for the world."

John McGuire, professor emeritus, taught English literature at St. Ambrose from 1946 to 1986.

Although McGuire enjoyed teaching "very much," he says he loves retirement. "I'm a great student of of national affairs," he says. "I have a lot more time now to read newspapers and magazines. It's important to keep one's mind open to new ideas. There's a terrific amount of information on the Web, and I use it daily.

"I write letters to the editor all the time. In fact, when John Kerry and George W. Bush were here in August, my letters were chosen for the political question pages the Quad-City Times published.

"I've been inspired to write a bit since I retired. I wrote a book of essays and I'm writing my life story, mostly for family. Also, I correspond with friends and family around the country, mostly by email.

"My retirement has given me the ability to spend more time with friends and family. Les Schaefer and I often go out to lunch. My wife and I can spend more time with family. All of our six grandchildren live here in the Quad Cities. That's what life's all about."

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