Words from (and to) the wise

Area seniors (and we use that term lightly—some respondents are in their 50s) pass along advice for keeping healthy, wealthy, and wise

Judy Pease Monday, Aug. 31, 2021, at her home in Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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‘Education, activity and exercise, and trying to make a contribution’

Judy Pease

“For myself, I find that three things are most important in retirement: Keeping my mind active through education, my body through activity and exercise, and trying to make a contribution of some sort.

Prior to my retirement I became aware of LIFE (Learning Is ForEver), which is a lifelong learning program out of RCTC. I continue to take classes and I am in my 12th year serving on the LIFE advisory board.

Daytime classes are available, for a small fee, to anyone. There is a wide-ranging catalog of classes, with topics ranging from health to history to current events and more, mostly about 2 hours in length.

Since 2011, I have been part of a diverse and refreshing group of women, The Study Club. The Club was organized in the late 1800s here in Rochester and has been in existence since then. Every year we select a topic, each of the members does research around that topic and then presents a paper to the group during the year. I am aware of one other such group in Rochester. I find this to be a wonderful opportunity to learn new things through research and from the presentations of others in the group.


During my retirement years I have been a weekly volunteer at Mayo Clinic. I love the opportunity to meet and provide some small amount of assistance to the patients that I encounter at my post.

For the last several years I have had a membership at 125 Live. This is a wonderful facility with a full fitness center, exercise classes, and many socialization possibilities. My favorite form of exercise is swimming and they have a great pool there.

I do enjoy travel. With my two children living out of the country, my main travel goal is to see them whenever I can manage that. Outside of that, I now favor organized travel where most of the planning is done for me. My favorite over the years has been Road Scholar. They plan travel of all kinds around the world, something for everyone.

My arts enjoyment here in Rochester comes largely from the Choral Arts Ensemble concerts and the Rochester Symphony Orchestra concerts.”

About Judy (in her own words): My first “real” job following college graduation was as a social worker in the Alcoholic Treatment Center at Mendota State Hospital in Madison, Wis. Following the years spent as a stay-at-home mom during my children’s youth, I managed the box office at the Wisconsin Union Theater on the UW Madison campus for about 12 years. This sparked my interest in the arts. This interest continues today and is a necessary part of my life in retirement. I moved to Rochester in 1998 and was fortunate to be employed part-time at the Choral Arts Ensemble office—another great job in the arts. I fully retired in 2006.


Paula Haines on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, in Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

‘I would recommend using your talents to help others’

Paula Haines

“I must say that moving to a new community (I moved here in October of 2020) and starting a new friend base is a work in progress. I have been welcomed with open arms with all of my new endeavors, and look forward to finding more that Rochester has to offer!

I found a wonderful way to connect with my new community through the LIFE Program at Rochester RCTC. This opportunity saved me during COVID.

I have enjoyed and would recommend the Rochester Community Education trips called Effortless Excursions. Their motto is “Get on the bus and let us take care of you!” And, boy, do they ever! The variety of trip selections is phenomenal and highly affordable. I have attended a number of musical programs and am looking forward to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and other upcoming trips. You just can’t go wrong with the service and selection they provide. The trips also provide a great opportunity to meet new people while enjoying new experiences. Effortless Excursions are a win/win as far as I’m concerned. Hope to see you on a trip!

I have also started volunteering at the Mayo Clinic Blood Bank. The Mayo Clinic Volunteer Program was very welcoming, and helped me identify areas that I felt I would enjoy working in at the clinic. I would recommend using your talents to help others in this energy filled setting. It helps me to meet new people and give back to my new community.”

About Paula (in her own words): I am a recently retired teacher of 39 years! I moved to Rochester to be near my family in October of 2020. Moving during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge to say the least. As a 62-year-old senior, I had gone from a busy life and profession in another town, to a primarily forced isolation in a new community. I look forward to interacting with other Seniors and at the same time learning new things!


Paul Koeller on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, outside his home in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

‘Find your passion’

Paul Koeller

“Here are some lessons I’ve learned in life.

Appreciate and cherish your family and friends. My wife Karen, my daughter Mara, her husband Landon, and my grandchildren Julian and Madeline are the loves of my life. My extended family and friends also add joy and fulfillment to my life.

Be a lifelong learner. My wife Karen worked for Rochester Community Education for more than 30 years and their motto was “lifelong learning for all.” I am currently using an app named Yousician to teach myself to play guitar, ukulele, and piano. I have used the Duolingo app every day for over four years without a miss to teach myself Spanish and Hawaiian.

Keep your mind engaged. Every morning I start my day by doing Duolingo, Lumosity brain games, and The New York Times Spelling Bee. I am also an avid reader, enjoying the ease of downloading books anytime, anyplace from The Rochester Public Library.

Stay physically active. For many years I exercised at the Rochester family Y before switching to Mayo’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center (the DAHLC). This past January, my wife and I switched to 125 LIVE for exercise. We especially enjoy their warm water pool. In addition, we love to walk on the many trails in Rochester or hike in Minnesota’s beautiful State Parks in Southeast Minnesota.

Find your passion and live it while you can. My wife and I love to travel the world. One of my goals is to visit one country for each year of my life. We are currently ahead of schedule, having visited 72 countries. Most of those have been on cruises. We love learning about other countries and cultures. Some of our favorite places have been places that many people questioned why we’d even go there. For example: Egypt shortly after Arab Spring, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Singapore. However, do it while you can because whether it be health issues or world wide pandemic, you might not be able to do it in the future.

Music is another passion for me. I have over 6,000 songs on my iPhone, have attended hundreds of live concerts, and teach Community Education classes on the music and history of various classic rock artists. Since the start of COVID, I have posted a daily link to various “song of the day” YouTube videos along with some brief facts about the song or artist, introducing friends to new artists and songs.

History is another passion for me. I love to research and give presentations on local history. In 2004, I coauthored and published the book “Brewed With Style—The Story of The House Of Heileman.” It is a history of the Heileman Brewery in La Crosse, Wis., where my father worked for 43 years.

Volunteering is another passion for me. I have been volunteering at Mayo Clinic for the past 13 years. Every Monday morning from 6:30-8:30 you will find me in the atrium of the Mayo Gonda Building near the grand piano. About once a minute, I help a lost patient find their appointment, answer their questions, or assist a wheelchair getting on the elevator. I also served one year (as did my wife) as President of the Mayo Volunteers. It is very rewarding, but in addition it has greatly expanded our social network. We frequently get together with other Mayo Volunteers for socializing.

Gardening is another passion. We have a backyard that is filled with hundreds of Hosta, about 50 varieties of Lilies and Day Lilies, and many other flowers and vegetables. We belong to The Rochester Hosta Society and have found it to be a great source for gardening information and also another way to expand our social network.

Manage your finances well. I try to live by a saying that my father-in-law Marion Runerson taught me. He always said “every day you need to save a little money in case you live to be an old man and every day you need to spend some money in case you don’t live to be an old man.”

Record your history. I have written in a journal more or less every day since March of 1993. For the past 20-plus years I have used a “Ten Year Journal” (I’m currently on my third one). It is fun to go back and see how much and yet how little some things in my life have changed. Hopefully some day it will be my lasting legacy to my daughter and grandchildren.”

About Paul (in his own words): Retired IBM Software Engineer. Retired in 2009 after 32 years at IBM Rochester. Husband to Karen. Father to Mara. Grandfather to Julian and Madeline. Active Mayo Clinic volunteer and past President of Mayo Volunteers. Lifelong Learner. Physically active. World traveler. Music Lover. History Lover. Author. Gardener.

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