The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University (OLLI) is a group of more than 1,000 individuals, age 50 and over, who learn together through three distinct programs: OLLI Classes, OLLI Learning Trips, and OLLI Study Groups.

Here, members can discuss what they learned, what they enjoyed, and offer suggestions to enhance future program offerings.

Take a look at the photos we're taking, and the discussions we're having as OLLI members.

Whether we're in class, in town, or out of town ... we're on the go, having fun, and constantly learning.


We look forward to reading your comments!

While you're online, be sure to visit our website www.bradley.edu/continue/olli to register for our programs.

Don't forget -- OLLI has its own YouTube Channel, where you can see video clips of Learning Trips, Classes, and Study Groups!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Redefining Retirement -- September 19, 2009



More than 150 people traveled to Bradley's campus on September 19 to attend Redefining Retirement, a one-day workshop sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Bradley University.

The workshop was designed to help people create the best possible post-career life that reflects what they value today: staying healthy, sustaining financial comfort, and following passions.

A variety of experts made informative presentations throughout the day. Dr. Cynthia Barnett, author of Prime Time Makeover, began the day with a plenary session about the transition into retirement. Dr. Lori Russell-Chapin spoke about the changes relationships face during retirement, Kali Lightfoot talked about the importance of lifelong learning, and Marjorie Getz spoke about understanding the 50+ body.

In addition, Tom Rowley of Van Kampen Investments gave a lively luncheon talk about the retirement boom and resulting financial impact, Bill Kwon spoke about retirement investing, Jim Benckendorf gave good advice about estate planning, and Nancy Bell gave an overview of Medicare.

Finally, Dr. Larry Lindahl spoke about the mental and physical effects of retirement, followed by Donna Nordwall addressing the emotional aspects of retirement and Robin Albright discussing how blueprinting the future can help make dreams come true.

Bradley's Continuing Education developed the workshop in conjunction with an incredible group of community leaders, without whom the event would not have been possible: Francis Duren, Lori Fan, Loren Gallup, Blair Gorsuch, Jim Hooker, Bill Kwon, Jeff Nelson, Mary Ann Nelson, Michele Richey, and Randy Saxon.

Thanks also to the event sponsors: Bernard Osher Foundation, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Bradley University Center for Testing, CEFCU, and RSVP of Peoria and Tazewell Counties.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Presidential Museums Trip Day 8 -- September 15, 2009

Here is the final chapter to the story!!

This morning we had a little chance to sleep in and to enjoy a leisurely breakfast at our hotel. We boarded the charter coach and drove a short distance to tour the Steamboat Arabia Museum. In 1856, the Missouri River (“The Mighty Mo”) was the major route to the West from Kansas City, Missouri. The men usually went ahead of their families and set up places to live, established their businesses, and then sent word for the families to follow.

The Steamboat Arabia, like many other paddle wheelers, often carried tons of cargo (mostly building supplies, food, and household goods) along with passengers. Because the boats needed wood to fuel the boilers, which ran the paddle wheel, crew members often cuts trees from the banks of the river. The trunks remained along the banks and eventually died. When the tree trunks floated out into the river, they lodged in the mud with their tops standing up just under the water’s surface because of the strong current. One such tree punctured the hull of the Arabia, and the entire ship sank in five minutes. Fortunately, the only casualty was a mule that was tied at the stern. All of the goods on the ship were submerged under forty-five feet of muddy water.

About 135 years later, five men decided to look for the Arabia; however, because the Missouri River had changed course, the ship lay buried in a farmer’s field. The men labored for several months to salvage the buried treasure, and what they found - from before the Civil War - is displayed for all to enjoy at the Steamboat Arabia Museum. You can read more about the salvage operation and what they found at www.1856.com. The story is amazing, and we wish that we had scheduled more time for our visit there.

All together, we’ve spent seven nights in six different hotels in five different states and traveled just under 2500 miles to twelve sites in eight days…with a wonderful group of twenty-eight people. Special thanks to Bernie Drake, who suggested the trip and guided our learning about the presidents and two Civil War battle areas. Thanks also to Peoria Charter Coach and to their very professional driver, Jay Horvitz, who helped us at every turn along the way.

Stay tuned for the next adventure!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Presidential Museum Trip Day 7 -- September 14, 2009



Starting early this morning from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, we arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, in time to feast on a delicious barbecue buffet lunch at Jack Stack's Martin City location. Rather than settling in for naps after our big meal, we traveled to Independence, Missouri, to tour the Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum.

We learned that Harry Truman started from humble beginnings as a farmer and eventually became Franklin D. Roosevelt's vice president.
Upon Roosevelt's dealth, Truman was sworn in as the 32nd president of the United States. For many in our group, Truman was president during their high school years, so this particular stop was very meaningful.

After we left the Truman Museum, Bernie Drake directed our driver to an area where we learned about a Civil War battle that had occurred on a hillside near our hotel. The battle was the largest west of the Mississippi, and the area has been turned into a beautiful tree-filled park with walking paths.

All in all, we had a fun day full of learning and great food!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Presidential Museums Trip Day 6 -- September 13, 2009



Today was a sobering day for the group. We visited the Dallas Sixth Floor Museum in the old Texas Schoolbook Depository. Photography is not allowed so we don't have any pictures to share and, perhaps, it is for the best. No photos could accurately portray the feelings of being in the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy.

As we proceeded through the exhibits, we saw a timeline of events...from the arrival of Air Force One to the crowds in Dallas waving and welcoming President and Mrs. Kennedy. From the shooting, the funeral procession, and the lighting of the eternal flame at Arlington National Cemetery to the reconstruction of the assassination and the Warren Report, we saw it all. The group was silent as we watched old television broadcasts, especially the one when Walter Cronkite's voice cracked as he announced the president's death to the nation. No one left the building untouched but we were glad that we experienced the Sixth Floor Museum.

Having started out in Austin, Texas and driving to Dallas to tour the Sixth Floor Museum, we ate a quick lunch and spent the rest of the day traveling from Dallas to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Today was a long and rainy day in our motor coach, and, after a delicious dinner at Islamorada (inside the Bass Pro Shop), we were ready to check into the hotel for the night.

Presidential Museums Trip Day 5 -- September 12, 2009



Today was all about Lyndon Baines Johnson. We arrived at the presidential museum and library as it opened this morning and started exploring right away. Bernie gave us some background information, and we had watched the introductory film on our motor coach yesterday as we traveled toward Austin. Located on the University of Texas campus, the building houses both the presidential museum and the library, but we were given access to the library displays only.

LBJ’s museum was a little different from the others we have visited because the various displays integrated the music and sounds of the time. We were amazed at the number of handwritten documents that were on display. Most of the group did not realize the number of bills that were passed during Johnson’s presidency. We learned about the clean air act, civil rights, Medicare, and many other laws that changed American history.

Lunch was interesting…the Waterloo Ice House had closed not long before we started our trip, so we adjusted and made a fast-food stop on our way to the LBJ Ranch, also known as the “Texas White House.” The rain stopped long enough for us to walk to Johnson’s birthplace and to his grave, which is nearby. On the ranch, a small private cemetery holds the remains of Johnson family members. Lady Bird Johnson’s grave is yet unmarked while her daughters decide on an appropriate marker. We were able to walk through the Johnson’s private residence, and we explored much of the rest of the farm.

On our way back to our hotel, we ate dinner at the Broken Spoke, a honky tonk place where the likes of Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and other country greats have performed. Although the facility has a large dance hall available for country dance lessons and dancing, we decided that we’d return to our hotel. We’ll be leaving early in the morning for Dallas and the John F. Kennedy Sixth Floor Museum.

Moons Over Peoria -- September 11, 2009



In its first-ever "night trip," OLLI traveled to Jubilee State Park for an evening of star-gazing with the Peoria Astronomical Society.

We celebrated the 400th anniversary of Galileo's use of the telescope by viewing the summer Milky Way from the Decker-Grebner-Van Zandt Observatory. More than a dozen members of the Astronomical Society brought their personal telescopes so we could also view Jupiter and its moons, M13, M57, and Andromeda.

We were guided by Eric Clifton of the Peoria Astronomical Society, and joined by Illinois Central College profesor Brian Bill and his students.

For more information about the Peoria Astronomical Society, please visit www.astronomical.org

Presidential Museums Trip Day 4 -- September 11, 2009



The George H. W. Bush Presidential Museum and Library was our first stop of the day. We arrived just before the museum opened and entered a small theater to view a video about former President Bush’s life before, during, and after his presidency. Many of the exhibits detailed his careers beginning with his first as a very young pilot.

We learned about his diplomatic service, his political life, his love for Barbara, and his accomplishments as President of the United States. We also saw full-sized replicas of the Oval Office and a room based on the Camp David Retreat. President Bush’s limousine and Barbara Bush’s wedding dress were among other significant items on display.

One of the docents told us that George and Barbara Bush have decided to be buried near the library in a beautiful, peaceful garden, which has a large pond. Their first daughter died from leukemia at the age of three, and she is already buried in the family plot. In November of 2007, the library, which sits on the campus of Texas A & M, was re-opened after renovation, and former President Bush parachuted onto the grounds to celebrate.

After learning about our 41st president, we made a short drive to Rudy’s BBQ, today's lunch stop. From a menu full of things like brisket, ribs, and other barbecue fare, we ate some very tasty casual food and then settled in for a rainy, stormy drive to Austin. We had a little time to rest after we checked into our hotel and then drove to downtown Austin in search of B. D. Riley’s Pub for an authentic Irish dinner. Many of our group chose the recommended specialty - fish and chips. Owner John Erwin delighted the group with a brief history of the building and some additional dinner suggestions. We ended the evening fairly early and returned to the hotel for a good night's sleep. Tomorrow we'll visit the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Museum and Johnson City, the location of LBJ's ranch.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Presidential Museum Trip Day 3 -- September 10, 2009



Our third day of travel started at the Texarkana Post Office, which sits in two different states with two different zip codes. Bernie told us that this particular Post Office is the most-photographed of all in the USA.

After a quick photo, we boarded the charter coach for Longview, Texas, the home of LeTourneau University. R. G. LeTourneau was a very talented inventor who developed new ways to move earth. At one time, he had a factory in Peoria, Illinois in the spot where Komatsu now stands. We learned that, in spite of LeTourneau's lack of a formal education, he was quite an accomplished engineer. So what was the connection to our learning about the presidents? Zapata, George H. W. Bush's oil company, funded the manufacturing of LeTourneau's moveable oil platform, an invention that is still in use today.

After a delicious lunch at McKay's Ranch House in Longview, we headed off to Kilgore, Texas, home of the East Texas Oil Museum and the home of the "Rangerettes." Our group split up, and half went to learn about oil while the rest went to learn about high kicks!

After driving from Texarkana, Arkansas to College Station, Texas, we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Luigi's Patio Ristorante and settled in for a good night's sleep at our hotel.

Firefighting 101 -- September 10, 2009



One day before the eighth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, OLLI members visited the Vernon "Butch" Gudat Fire Training Academy in Peoria.

Chief Greg Walters and Captain Marty Baker welcomed the group to the academy, and discussed the history of the Peoria Fire Department. The academy, which opened in 1978, hosts classes and training sessions for local, state, and federal agencies, including a seven-week mandatory training course for all new firefighters.

The academy was renamed after Chief Gudat in 1983, after his death in the line of duty earlier that year. The academy is also home to the actual firebox that was pulled at that fire.

There are 12 fire stations within the Peoria Fire Department, responsible for covering 50 square miles of the city. The department, which is on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, answers nearly 18,000 emergency calls annually. Firefighters work a 24/48 shift, meaning they work 24 hours on, then 48 hours off.

Firefighters are required to have a high school diploma or GED, and must be 18 years old to apply for a job (19 years old to be hired). Chief Walters said the position of Peoria firefighters are one of the most sought-after jobs in the area; more than 700 applications are received each time there is an opening at the department.

During the demonstration part of our visit, Chief Walters explained that a fire, left unchecked by doors or walls, doubles in size every 90 seconds. That exponential growth rate makes response times incredibly important -- Walters says the PFD's average response time of 4-6 minutes is excellent when compared to national averages.

Captain Baker showed OLLI members the protective equipment each firefighter must don before responding to every call. That equipment, which fully encapsulates the firefighters, includes a kevlar helmet with harness, fire-resistant pants and coats, Nomex protective hoods, boots, gloves, mask, and oxygen tank. The equipment, a far cry from the old leather helmets and rubber coats once worn by firefighters, costs approximately $9,000 per firefighter. The PFD employs approximately 200 firefighters.

Several adventurous OLLI'vers took a turn putting out fires at the burn pad. First, they were trained on the basics of using a fire extinguisher. Chief Walters said to remember just four letters: PASS. P - pull the pin, A -- aim the nozzle at the bottom of the fire, S -- squeeze the handle, and S -- sweep side to side. Two trays were ignited with a mixture of diesel and gasoline, and five brave OLLI members took their turn at extinguishing the flames.

OLLI extends a big thanks to Chief Walters, Captain Baker, and Captain Buckingham for being incredibly gracious hosts for our group. For more information about the Peoria Fire Department, please visit www.ci.peoria.il.us/firedepartment

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Presidential Museums Trip Day 2 -- September 9, 2009




On the second day of our trip, we left West Memphis, Arkansas and drove to Little Rock to tour the William Clinton Presidential Museum.

The contents include memorabilia from Bill and Hillary's childhoods through their years in the White House. Multimedia presentations play on screens throughout the museum, and our group enjoyed pulling out the schedule books to read what the president's activities included for certain dates.

After lunch in downtown Little Rock, we boarded the motorcoach again and drove to Hope, Arkansas to visit "Billy" Clinton's boyhood home.

Margaret Berryman expertly guided our tour and gave us many inside bits of information about Clinton's early years. Upon arrival at the visitor's center, we experienced some southern hospitality when we were offered cookies, lemonade, and some goodie bags. The people who care for the site were very warm and friendly, and they made our visit one of the most enjoyable so far.

By the end of the day, we were in Texarkana, Arkansas, which is inches from Texarkana, Texas. Our long day ended with dinner at Zapata's, a Mexican restaurant, and no one left hungry!

We're off to two mystery sites in Texas tomorrow. Bernie Drake gave a series of clues, and Don Moore was the first person to correctly guess our destination. If you want to know where we're going, you'll have to check the Thursday blog!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Peoria Zoo-OLLI-gy -- September 8, 2009



It was another beautiful day for OLLI as we took a private, behind-the-scenes tour of the Peoria Zoo.

Our zoo guides, Julie and Lydia, escorted us around the recently renovated zoo, and showed us the animal kitchen, sea lion kennels, giraffe barns, and the new Africa! lodge.

The new Africa! exhibit cost $27.5 million to construct, and was open to the public on June 6, 2009. Approximately $5 million more needs to be raised to complete the construction.

For more information about the zoo, please visit www.peoriazoo.com

Fall 2009 OLLI Luncheon -- September 9, 2009



More than 300 OLLI members celebrated the beginning of the Fall 2009 season by attending the 15th annual Kickoff Luncheon on Wednesday, September 9 at the Michel Student Center at Bradley University.

Following a piano prelude by OLLI member Norma Gangloff, members were welcomed to campus by Continuing Education Executive Director Janet Lange. Our 2008-2009 OLLI Student Volunteer of the Year, Michelle Kosner, made some brief comments about her award-winning program Paws Giving Independence, a group that rescues dogs from animal shelters and trains them to become service dogs for individuals with disabilities.

After enjoying a lunch of tossed green salad with pear slices and walnuts, chicken provencale, au gratin potatoes, broccoli Normandy, and pumpkin surprise, OLLI members welcomed their keynote speaker -- who just happens to be the daughter of OLLI Treasurer Jim Kostas!

Patti A. French, functional director for flight software at United Space Alliance, LLC, gave an interesting and educational presentation about the space shuttle program, the international space station, and other NASA projects.

She explained how the shuttle program, now more than a quarter-century old, has launched 72 satellites into space. The program also delivered the Hubble space telescope in 1990, and has followed up with four additional serving visits to the telescope. The majority of work for the shuttle at present is assembling and maintaining the international space station.

Patti also walked us through the amazing facts of a shuttle launch: at liftoff, the shuttle weighs 4.5 million pounds and accelerates up to 18,000 miles per hour (37 million horsepower) to reach orbit. She is personally responsible for developing software changes that can be uploaded to the orbiting shuttle when problems occur during flight (such as malfunctioning alarm systems).

Lastly, Patti listed just a few of the innovations made possible due to the nation's space program, including: noninvasive medical imaging, implantable heart and insulin pumps, artificial hearts, communication satellites, and land mine removal techniques.

A special thanks goes to our Luncheon Committee for planning such a wonderful day: Lucy McCrea, Coordinator; Ruth Bowden, Carolyn Hancock, Merilynn Hyland, and Nancy Taylor.

Presidential Museums Trip Day One -- September 8, 2009




Today we made our first stop of the eight-day Presidential Museums Tour at Grant's Farm in St. Louis. As we rode down the highway, Bernie Drake gave us some background on Grant's life, and our park rangers told some wonderful stories as we toured the property.

Originally owned by Frederick Dent's family and built in 1820 as a summer home, the St. Louis farm home was known as "White Haven."

Ulysses S. Grant often visited a West Point schoolmate, a son of Frederick Dent, after graduation and met Julia Dent, who became the love of his life. After a secret proposal on the front porch, Ulysses went off to war. Upon his return, Ulysses and Julia married and had four children. With the intention of retiring at White Haven, the Grants purchased the farm from Julia's father and siblings in the 1860's but moved to the White House in 1869 when Grant became president. They never returned to White Haven, choosing, instead, to call New York home.

After a two-hour drive to Sikeston, Missouri, we enjoyed lunch at Lambert's, "the only home of throwed rolls." We started with fried okra served on paper towels and then we heard someone yell, "Hot rolls!!" We stuck our hands high in the air, and the servers expertly tossed the hot yeast rolls to us. Some caught the flying food and others fumbled, but we all had fun. We also had the opportunity to try turnip greens, hog jowls, fried potatoes and onions, macaroni and tomatoes, and other Southern fare. No one left hungry because the portions were huge.

We settled into our hotel right on schedule at 5:00 p.m. and decided we needed to rest up for tomorrow's adventure to Bill Clinton's Presidential Museum in Little Rock and his boyhood home in Hope, Arkansas.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Springfield's Hidden Treasures -- September 2, 2009




OLLI's first trip of the Fall 2009 season was a success -- we had gorgeous weather, a variety of interesting educational experiences, great food, and all day to learn about the hidden treasures in our state capitol.

The day started with a tour of the Museum of Funeral Customs, located next to the main entrance to Oak Ridge Cemetery. Although more than 500,000 visitors pass through the gates of the cemetery each year, the museum has had to close due to lack of interest and income. The museum is in the hands of the Illinois Funeral Home Directors Association, which is attempting to reopen the museum on a full-time basis. Fortunately for OLLI, the museum director, Duane Marsh, agreed to let us visit and see the unique (and sometimes macabre) exhibits.

The exhibits included a home funeral parlor, circa 1865, a woman's mourning dress, a 1913 hearse carriage, goverment-issued headstones for Civil War soldiers, an embalming room from the late 1920s, and a replica of President Lincoln's coffin and funeral route.

Of particular interest were the restorative materials and prosthetics once used by morticians, such as wax noses, ears, and eyelids. We learned the difference between coffins and caskets (the latter are curved), the mourning practices of various religions, and some of the rigid rules governing dress after a death in the 19th century (all black for up to two years, including buttons, pins, and brooches).

After a short visit to Oak Ridge Cemetery's Korean, Vietnam, and World War II memorials and Lincoln's tomb, we traveled to beautiful Washington Park for a private tour of the Rees Memorial Carillon. Opened in 1962, the 10-story open tower has 67 cast bronze bells covering a range of 5 1/2 chromatic octaves. The carillon was cast by the 300-year-old bellfoundry of Petit & Fritsen, Ltd.,in Aarle-Rixtel, The Netherlands. All of the bells are played manually by means of the keyboard located in the carillonneur's cabin.

For lunch, we stopped at Saputo's, a Springfield tradition and a favorite destination for traveling dignitaries, celebrities, and politicians. Our buffet menu included chicken parmigana, homemade ravioli, baked mostaccioli, rigatoni alfredo, Italian meatballs, salad, and spumoni. A big thank you to Jackie, our server, for serving us so quickly and catering to our every need!

After lunch, we drove to Camp Lincoln, headquarters of the Illinois National Guard, to tour the Illinois State Military Museum. We viewed exhibits that covered the actions of the military in Illinois from early militia through current military operations throughout the world. The collection included the artificial leg of Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna; the wooden target board that President Abraham Lincoln used to test fire the Spencer rifle in 1863; and the entire collection of weapons, flags, uniforms, and personal effects associated with Union General John A. Logan. It also featured an exhibit case containing the names and images of fallen heroes of the Illinois Army and Air National Guard from the Global War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. A few brave OLLI members even sat in a cockpit trainer for an F-16 Fighting Falcon used by the Illinois Air National Guard.

The last stop of the day was at the state fairgrounds, wherein lies the Illinois Fire Museum. Open to the public since 1994 by the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Illinois Fire Museum is home to one of the nation's largest fire department patch collections. The museum is actually located in a fire station built in 1938, and houses an authentic 1857 horse drawn hand pumper, complete with water buckets. The antique pumper is parked next to a shiny brass fire pole once used by state fairgrounds firefighters.

OLLI thanks all of our tour guides and hosts at each site for making our visit to Springfield a fabulous one!

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