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OLLI is Wonderland

by Barbara Butler

In observance of our 20th anniversary, we celebrated our founders on October 29th. Over 80 members, past and present, attended including founding members Louise Wilde and Harold Katz as well as Renee Simon representing Jack Blecher.

Stepping across the threshold of the OLLI campus to celebrate its 20th anniversary on October 29th, I was reminded of Alice’s adventures in wonderland. But instead of a white rabbit to lead the way, the spirit of Jack Blecher was our guide into, through, and beyond the wonderful world of OLLI.
The beginning of this excursion was the hallway decorated in black with bright yellow sunflowers. Among the items in the hallway and this loveliness were posters created by Pat Wrenn using articles and photos that document the founding of this educational phenomenon.
Pictures of the OLLI founders and historic quotes placed the university in perspective with what was happening in the world at that time. A large photo of Jack beckoned students to partake and enjoy the experience of learning.
The black and gold decorations continued in the classroom...more posters and a collection of The SUN issues going back to the first in 1998. Refreshing beverages were served as the chatter of excited veteran scholars exchanged remembrances of classes and friendships made at OLLI.
Past presidents spoke about their term in office and the challenges and victories that were met. Carl Curtis reminded the group of the struggle people had when the Senior University was going to be renamed. Receipt of an endowment from the Osher Foundation was the turning point in making the name OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) part of the campus vocabulary.
Sylvia Manheim, who was
introduced as “the Louella Parsons of OLLI”, gave a heartfelt tribute to Jack not only as a founding member and contributor to the school’s success, but as a marvelous
human.
Bill Fitzpatrick, instructor and present President of OLLI, spoke on the
future of the school. At this time there are 1,300 members with about 1,000 students enrolled in classes this session. The classroom is equipped with great electronics, including a sound system/loop that enables those with hearing issues to better hear lectures and films.
This year the first grant of $1,000 was given to CSULB
student Mathew Choi for his study Developing a Lower Limb Musculoskeletal Model of Older Adults. Bill introduced Dean Monica Lounsbery of CHHS. She sees the OLLI program expanding to different areas with big dreams for growth. Bill also thanked the hard working Founders Day committee members: Karin Covey, Pat Wrenn, Jeanette Gavin, Vicki O’Toole, Naida Tushnet, Barbara White, Patti Worsham, Carl Curtis and Becky Low.
Near the large picture of Jack were several quotes. One which is quite true of OLLI and reflective of its mission statement, from John Adams, who said, “Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.” And so it seems that just as the white rabbit led Alice through wonderland, the spirit of Jack Blecher guides OLLI
students into new adventures of learning.



History of the Western Movie

Get ready to saddle up, hit the trail and mosey along with Barry Buckheim as the posse tracks down the History of the Western Movie. Barry will guide you all the way from 1903’s “Great Train Robbery” to the last episode of “Gunsmoke” in 1975. Along the way you may stop to chat about some Western film heroes like Bronco Billy and Tom Mix, or perhaps debate why even Johnny Depp could not outshine Clayton Moore as the most popular Tonto or Lone Ranger. You’ll also learn which Westerns were the biggest box office hits and moneymakers, when the big “B” studios faded into the sunset, and who’s in the running for the top Western film star of all time.
Barry will begin most classes with historical background material, and then show films and discuss them. Each class should keep all of the “cowpokes” riding tall and having a good time. He will also solicit input from the class regarding their favorite Western movie topics and stars and tweak the curriculum around those preferences.
This is a man seriously passionate about the Western. A movie industry veteran of many years, he has experience both in film editing and in casting. He has carried the torch in other ways since he left the business, including a long stint as a performer in the Knott’s Berry Farm’s Ghost Town productions. He can currently be seen as a Docent at Rancho Los Cerritos here in Long Beach.
Barry is also a veteran OLLI Instructor, having taught
“History of the Motion Pictures” and “Laughs and More Laughs” in years past. Don’t miss this chance to hitch your wagon to another one of his fun and informative productions.

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Bring a friend to OLLI and share our motto:
Learn More ~ Age Less

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