As we begin to close out 2017 and reflect on the events that once again propelled St. Louis into the national headlines as a city divided, we mustn’t forget about those who tirelessly and selflessly give of themselves in order to better the lives of people in the community.
In late October, St. Andrew’s Resources for Seniors System honored 22 of the St. Louis region’s most accomplished individuals at the 15th annual Ageless Remarkable St. Louisans gala. The event celebrated the outstanding contributions of St. Louisans of a certain age who have a slightly different perspective on what it means to grow older. Most of these individuals may be unfamiliar to our Gazelle STL readers, but they truly epitomize the characteristics that inspire us all.
Among those receiving recognition: 79-year-old Judy Bentley, the founder and president/CEO of the largest free health clinic in St. Louis. A nurse practitioner, Bentley established CHIPS, the Community Health-in-Partnership Services, to ensure that underserved St. Louisans had access to healthcare and other social services. What began as a free clinic in the basement of St. Teresa of Avila Church in May 1990 has helped more than 25,000 residents. The CHIPS Health and Wellness Center, now located in the city’s north side, is staffed by volunteer physicians, nurses, and other professional and lay community members. For her part, Bentley has been honored with numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award Top Ladies of Distinction, the Distinguished Service and Healthcare Award from the LINKS St. Louis Chapter, and the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis Salute to Women in Leadership Award. She also volunteers at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Washington University Medical School.
Seventy-nine-year-old honoree Barbara Gehringer and her four-legged companion, Maggie, are frequent visitors to a number of local senior communities. Gehringer retired from practicing and teaching nursing in 1999, but her compassion, combined with her energy, have been a gift to older adults in need of friendship and some canine companionship. She has also helped coordinate the Animal Protection Agency’s Prison Arts Program, through which offenders practicing restorative justice paint dog and cat portraits to raise funds for the animal shelter. Her involvement extends to the Center for Women in Transition, which helps women transition successfully from the criminal justice system back into society. Even with her busy volunteer schedule, Gehringer found time to take up piano lessons after retirement. She also practices yoga, and she has qualified for and run in the Boston Marathon, biked from California to Washington, DC, and climbed to the top of Machu Picchu.
Another honoree, 80-year-old Henrietta Parram of North St. Louis, is a master gardener, and volunteers by creating community gardens, organizing beautification projects, and sharing her love of gardening with others. The woman affectionately known as “Mrs. Hen” educates community members on the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as provides hands-on instruction on how to grow food. She also volunteers with the Lewis Place Neighborhood and Foundation Park Neighborhood associations to unite people, educate youth, and improve conditions and promote opportunities for everyone. In addition, she gives of her time at Southside Wellness Center and in a neighborhood after-school program for children, bringing along healthy snacks and offering tutoring and homework help. She has been a member of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church for 71 years.
Others lauded as Ageless Remarkable St. Louisans include:
Rev. Dr. Jack Batten, 90, is a retired lieutenant and World War II veteran, and an ordained minister who packs more into an average week that others decades younger. He continues his career serving as a substitute worship leader and preaches at various churches, drawing on life experience gained travelling to 67 different counties on every continent. He also finds time to be a Partner in Education, sharing his reflection his time as a World War II veteran with students. A supporter of many philanthropic organizations, he also is an avid volunteer, taking on roles at Room at in Inn as a driver for the homeless, as an usher for coffee concerts at the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and in the gift shop at Cape Albeon. He has served as a board member at Cape Albeon and as president of the Resident Council, and is currently the Sixtieth Anniversary UCC Chair for an event at Cape Albeon to promote the United Church of Christ.
Sr. Judith Ann Bell, FSM, 76, worked for more than 50 years as a registered nurse and nurse practitioner, dedicating her life to assuring the provision of the best possible care to those in need of healing. Her calling to religious life has seen her bring care and healing to the poor and sick in remote areas of the U.S. with a special concern for the elderly. Her tireless efforts have taken her to places like the Pima Native American Reservation in Arizona, and provided care for those in the margins of society in Appalachia. Her healing touch has also positively impacted the sick in hospitals and clinics, as well as elders in need of spiritual faith and healthcare in several local retirement communities. As an administrator, she led efforts to develop new care models to address the needs of the aged and infirm. Bell, who has been a Franciscan Sister of Mary since 1960, continues to serve in a leadership position with the Franciscan Sisters of Mary and as board president for the Sarah Community.
Don Carlson, 82, volunteers each week to collect tons of food for area food pantries at the Ladue Chapel and St. Louis Area Food Bank, tutors fifth graders at Hamilton School, and serves his church as an ordained elder. He is also a long-time volunteer and supporter of ALIVE and the Women’s Self Help Center, which deals with the prevention of domestic violence and the support of its victims. He was awarded “The Good Guy” award from Safe Connections, an agency addressing domestic violence and its victims. He has served on the boards of several shelters and agencies, and now plays a key role on the Domestic and Family Violence Council of St. Louis County. In his spare time, Carlson loves traveling, spending time with family, and enjoying opera and the symphony.
Will Carpenter, 85, and Hellen Carpenter, 81, have achieved much throughout their 57 years as a married couple, changing the lives of others along the way. Will, a former Naval Reservist and Army Captain, is internationally renowned for his 25 years of work crafting a treaty to ban chemical weapons. His efforts led to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013. He has served on the numerous boards in an advisory capacity, and volunteers at the St. Louis Academy of Science, the St. Louis Science Center and the Chesterfield Development Advisory Council, as well as several universities. Hellen embarked on her second career when she wrote a biography about her grandfather, James Naismith, the inventor of the game of basketball. The book and her related presentations help promote teamwork, skills and determination to audiences young and old. Hellen volunteers at the Small College Basketball Hall of Fame, into which Naismith was posthumously inducted, and also lends her time and talents to various educational institutions. As advocates for education, the couple has funded scholarships at the University of Missouri – St. Louis, Webster University, Purdue, Mississippi State University, Springfield University in Massachusetts and Oklahoma State.
Louis D. Cohen, 80, a retired co-owner of a food manufacturing arm of Allen foods, now volunteers his time, wisdom and enthusiasm tutoring with the OASIS Institute. For the past 14 years, He has enjoyed tutoring academically at-risk students to help them to improve their reading skills and self-esteem and discover talents they never knew they had. He tutors two children every year, and continues to have a relationship with them afterwards, serving as an important mentor in their lives. Cohen’s children, inspired by his commitment to ensuring that students gain critical reading skills, established the OASIS Intergenerational Tutoring Fund in his name to honor him on his 80th birthday. Cohen also volunteers at the Jewish Family and Children’s Service and the Harvey Kornblum Food Pantry.
Dr. Arthur H. Gale, 87, has practiced internal medicine for 54 years and still sees patients two days a week. He is a contributing editor to the Missouri Medicine Journal, and has published three collections of essays analyzing the challenges and shortcomings of our health care system. Gale has advocated for physicians and patients in the halls of the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, testifying before legislative committees and appearing before governmental and regulatory bodies. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Missouri State Medical Association in 2013, recognizing his extraordinary career. These days, he regularly volunteers with the Overland Medical Group and is a guest speaker at Maryville University for students in the healthcare field. Gale also generously sponsors lecture series at both the Holocaust Museum in St. Louis, and at the St. Louis County Library, in hopes of educating others about important lessons from past and current events.
Raymond Hoffstetter, 91, has been staying active during his 25 years of retirement, volunteering at various organizations. An Emmy award winner who has met countless world leaders and covered wars and disasters, he is a regular at Sappington House and White Haven, where he shares his love of history and his engaging personality with audiences young and old, reflecting on his incredible experiences gained over a 50-year career as a cameraman, editor and archivist at Channel 5. He serves on the Foundation Board of the Historical Sappington House Museum in Crestwood, and drew on his TV background to produce a video tour of the second floor of the museum for those with any handicap that would prevent them from being able to physically experience the second-floor. He also regularly serves as an OASIS tutor at area schools and churches, helping students improve their reading skills. He is the president and secretary of St. Charles Emmaus Auxiliary.
Dr. Ira J. Kodner, 76, a retired colorectal surgeon, discovered a need to teach medical personnel better ways to deal with patients and their families early on in his career, which led him to a lifetime commitment to the study of medical ethics. Today, he is a nationally recognized expert in the field. As director of the Washington University Center for the Study of Ethics and Human Values, Kodner advocated, published books and articles, and lectured across the country, bringing the issue of medical ethics and end-of-life issues to the forefront of healthcare. He continues to teach, consult, write and maintain a leadership role in educating surgical residents on these important topics. He currently serves as Emeritus Professor of Surgery at Washington University, a member of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation Board, and on several national boards and committees that promote palliative care and other ethical issues. He also volunteers on the Jewish Community Relations Council, the OASIS Institute, Washington University Medical School and Lift for Life Academy.
Ernest Theodore “Ted” Kretschmar, 81, is a graduate of the Naval Academy, a Marine officer, church deacon, and a highly successful businessman. Leveraging the leadership skills gained in those roles, when he finally retired in 2008, Ted helped start and serves on the board of the Focus Marines Foundation, a volunteer-led nonprofit that helps psychologically wounded servicemen transition back into civilian life. With no specific training, this former Marine took on the challenge of serving as the foundation’s chief fundraiser, raising millions of dollars to help more than 700 Marines and Navy Corpsmen cope with their visible and invisible injuries. His concern for those in need extends to a board position with Teen Challenge of St. Louis, which helps young adults deal with addiction issues. He also volunteers at the West County Assembly of God.
Joan Krumrey, 83, and Norman Krumrey, 85, have been married for 59 years and raised five children while both juggled successful careers. Kicking back and relaxing was never an option for this ageless couple when they finally retired several years ago. On any given day, you’ll find them working the information desk in Forest Park, interpreting exhibits at the History Museum, greeting out-of-town visitors at Busch Stadium, or washing laundry at the Room at The Inn. They also lead a walking group with the Ten Toes Express, a program of Citizens for Modern Transit that introduces seniors to the region’s transit system and the places they can go using it, helping fellow seniors to step their way to better health. They research and pick walk destinations and routes, organize interesting presentations, and lead 24 groups each year. They also volunteer at the St. Louis Convention and Visitor Commission and St. Mary Magdalene Church in Brentwood.
Judy Luepke, 80, a tour guide for a private company, decided to turn her love of St. Louis into a career and make herself available to conduct tours on a freelance basis. Now 50 years later, this Maryville University alumna still gives tours of the city to various groups, and counts in the thousands the number of people with whom she has shared the things she loves best about St. Louis. Waiving her tour fee for nonprofit organizations is just one way that she overlaps her career with her volunteer pursuits. She is deeply devoted to and involved in her parish church, Our Lady of Lourdes. In addition, she actively volunteers for Peter and Paul Community Services. In fact, she and her husband, Henry, served on the board and led a $10 million campaign for the renovation of Peter and Paul headquarters. Among the other organizations that have benefited from her tireless energy as a volunteer are Biddle House, where she served in the laundry center, doing laundry for the homeless people it serves.
Arthur McDonnell, 75, served as a dedicated public servant in the city of Kirkwood for 16 years—eight years as a city councilman and eight years as the mayor. Additionally, he is the longtime owner of McDonnell’s Market Place grocery in Kirkwood. He has received many honors, including the Buzz Westfall Award from the Municipal League and a Kirkwood Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year. His legacy includes establishing committees currently working to replace the existing Community Center and restore the Kirkwood Train Station, and as well as beautifying Kirkwood City Hall. He continues to provide volunteer and philanthropic support to the Kirkwood Rotary Club, the Magic House and the First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood.
Judith L. Roberts, 81, has served as a 50-plus-year member of the First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood as a deacon, trustee, elder, and as a co-chair of a recent three-year project that included renovation of the chancel. She generously supports a variety of other organizations through her time, talent and financial resources. One outstanding example of her philanthropy is a $50,000 contribution to the Kirkwood School District instrumental music program. In addition, Roberts has organized and managed the AIM Community Band for 41 years with the purpose of supporting and encouraging the Kirkwood School District’s instrumental music program, its students and outreach into the community. She continues to play the flute in the 60-plus-member band. Among the other organizations benefitting from her active volunteerism are the Kirkwood Arts Commission, the Kirkwood Arts Foundation, the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, P.E.O. and Manor Grove Care and Rehab Residence.
Dr. Earl Robert Schultz, 86, retired in 2006 from private practice as a neurologist and psychiatrist after more than 40 years, but he continues to impact the lives of thousands of patients and physicians. Schultz now volunteers at a free clinic in St. Charles, helping to meet the health care needs of low-income, uninsured residents. He also devotes time to mentor medical students at Washington University and serves on the Cancer Research Review Board at Missouri Baptist Hospital. His hospital appointments include Barnes, Missouri Baptist, St. Luke’s, DePaul and St. John’s (now Mercy). Despite what would seem like an already full schedule for most, this veteran of the U.S. Army also finds time to play tennis three days a week, and you may find him sneaking off to his favorite fishing hole from time to time.
William Siedhoff, 75, is the former director of Missouri’s Division of Family Services, where he oversaw a 6,000-employee agency delivering critical services statewide. As human services director for the City of St. Louis, he implemented a 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness that was hailed as a national model for moving homeless people into permanent housing. After retiring in 2014, he led a successful tax campaign to fund needed services that allow older adults to age in place in their own homes. Today, he chairs the Senior Service Fund Board and the Advisory Board of the St. Louis Crisis Nursery, helping young and old. Twenty board memberships keep him busy, but as he says, he’s familiar with the problems and committed to making a difference in people’s lives. He continues to provide volunteer and philanthropic support to the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery, the St. Louis Zoo and the Botanical Gardens.
Robert Snyder, 79, has spent the past six years since retiring from a successful accounting career advocating for individuals in long-term care communities as volunteer for the VOYCE Ombudsman Program. He visits long-term care communities at least once a week to identify issues, isolate particular areas of concern, and to skillfully resolve any challenges with compassion and respect for those living in the long-term care community. His knowledge of issues in aging, understanding of his designated long-term care community and passion for others make him an outstanding advocate. Residents have come to rely on him to obtain necessary medical attention, help correct unsafe care conditions and improve their quality of life. Snyder also serves on the board of the Mid-East Area Agency on Aging, and chairs the Silver Haired Legislature, which annually advocates for seniors’ needs in Jefferson City.
Bernice Thompson, 81, was named one of the “100 Most Inspiring St. Louisans” in 2009 by the St. Louis American, and she continues to be an inspiration today. She has remained active in her golden years as a counselor for Agape Christian Counseling, helping individuals and families cope with their challenges and find peace. She also serves as convener of the Congregational Crisis Committee for the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy in St. Louis, which seeks to resolve conflicts and promote social justice. With a master’s degree in social work, she has served thousands of people in crisis as a former director of a mental health agency, addiction counselor, church elder, and professional instructor, always demonstrating her love of God in her work and throughout her full life.
St. Andrew’s created the Ageless Remarkable Saint Louisans concept in 2003 as a way to recognize individuals who are dedicating their “golden years” to bettering the region through continuing careers, advocating for issues that are close to their heart, and volunteering their time and talents to a range of important charitable initiatives.