This page was updated 11 Sep 1010

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Jane Cotterell, George Dane, Hani Elkadi, Bob Elliott, Bump Elliott, Shirley Frauenholtz,
Annie Gardner, Christine Grant, Dale Hibbs, Loren Horton, Glenn Jablonski, Roy Justis, Nancy Kaiser, Grace Katzenmeyer, Gary Kellogg, Noah Kemp, Jae-On Kim, Hubert Krotz,
Marguerite Kuebrich, Ethel Madison, Jane McCune, Betty McKray, Bob Oldis, Grace Olmsted,
Joe Panozzo, Marge Penney, Dianna Penny, John Raffensperger, Mary Beth Schuppert,
Marvin Sims, Art Small, Madge Thornton

... don't lose sight of the journey.

Jane Cotterell

  • Age: 82.
  • Born: Aug. 6, 1925, in Hollywood, Calif.
  • Moved to Iowa City in:2002.
  • Family: Two daughters, nine grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Retired from operating a dance studio.
  • Greatest accomplishment: She refuses to take credit for it, but she is very proud of her two daughters, whom she calls "truly wonderful women."

A piano sits in the corner of Jane Cotterell's living room. The winter light from the woods out back filters in like a fog. Her cat, Honey, curls up on a deck chair nearby, oblivious to the conversation.

Music and dance always have been a part of Cotterell's world.

She was born in Hollywood (yes, that Hollywood) and lived in both southern and northern California, and her love of the arts accompanied her to Iowa when she moved to be closer to her daughters and their families.

She taught ballet, modern dance, cotillion, ballroom and social dancing. She knows some of the professional dancers on the TV show "Dancing with the Stars."

"I thought the dancing was beautiful," she said. "But it becomes a life-and-death matter. Who is going to win?"

She is encouraged that such shows have revitalized dancing. She observes the dancing is more athletic, but it also has evolved into more of an "in-your-face" performance.

"I sort of feel like that is unfortunate in a lot of ways," she said.

At 82 she remains graceful in thought, style and movement. Her advice flows naturally from her own passion.

"Goals are certainly important and necessary, but you shouldn't lose sight of the journey," she said. "That has been very helpful to me in my adult life. Sometimes you end up in a different place than you thought you were going to be."

— Susan Harman

Be around good people.

George Dane

  • Age: 85.
  • Born in: Janesville, Wis.
  • Family: Wife Marjorie, daughter Janet, son Bob, daughter Mary Jo, son Bill and seven grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Retired.
  • Hobbies: Tinkering.

If you ask George Dane for one piece of advice, you'll get three. But pressed to choose one motto, the 85-year-old will tell you simply: "Be around good people."

"Find out where the good people are," Dane said.

For Dane, that happened by staying in Iowa City and having his family close by. Life is richer surrounded by people who love you, he said.

One of the most profound experiences in Dane's life occurred while he was deployed overseas during World War II. He jokingly described it as an "all-expense paid tour of Western Europe," but also soberly talked about the 65 young men from his high school class who never returned home.

"I didn't know them all, but I knew most of them," Dane said. "They never had a chance to do anything for the community, to have jobs, kids. They were cut in their prime. So as long as people thought I was capable, I wanted to give something back."

As a result, Dane spent more than three years in active duty and another 30 years in the Army Reserves. He also helped organize the Military Affairs Association of Johnson County to assist veterans.

Aside from the military, Dane said he has tried to serve his church.

For eight years, he led the finance committee for First United Methodist. He became the first chairman who was not a minister.

Although he moved into Oaknoll Retirement Community several years ago, Dane hasn't been able to sit still. He said he can't help but "tinker" and continues to find things to fix or try to improve.

Reflecting on his life, Dane said the most important standard has been one thing: "'Did you do the right thing when it's the right thing to do and not because someone is peeking over your shoulder?" he said.

Dane said he hoped he passed the test.

— Hieu Pham  

... follow your passion.

Hani Elkadi

  • Age: Hani said he thinks a person's age is private, like religion. "I don't think age has this importance."
  • Born: In Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: First in 1981, permanently in 1983.
  • Family: Wife Ewa Bardach; daughter Nina Bardach Elkadi, a second-grader at Horn Elementary; dog, Cookie, a toy poodle.
  • Occupation: Art and science teacher at Elizabeth Tate High School in Iowa City.
  • Greatest accomplishment: I'm working on being the best father I can be."

Hani Elkadi describes his life as a search with a constant mission for learning.

"I believe I will die as a learner," he said. "When you stop learning, you stop life."

His life has taken different turns, spending years in medicine as a surgeon, but now teaching art and science at Elizabeth Tate High School.

Although some believe going into different fields shows a lack of focus, "I think life is broader and wider than what we try to make of it," Elkadi said.

That's why his advice is to follow your passion, not focus solely on competition or the cost of living.

"If you follow your passion, you're going to be successful, and if you're successful, you're going to be happy," he said.

In the beginning, Elkadi didn't follow his passion, instead going toward what he called the "call of duty."

His love was art, but "art was not the best way to serve your people," he said.

So he started studying medicine, becoming a surgeon for international health organizations, serving areas of war, famine, flood and drought.

He came to Iowa to be a part of the Writers' Workshop, but continued in medicine.

He was selected University of Iowa College of Medicine Teacher of the Year from 1985 to 1987, has published nearly 30 books and has illustrated medical atlases.

He decided to leave medicine at his peak and went back to his passion.

"If I had to advise somebody to do something, follow your passion," he said. "In other words, follow your heart first and then the mind later."

He said he believes that art was the reason why he was a successful surgeon, because it is an application of humanity and feeling, a combination of thinking and emotion.

"The biggest lesson that I learned from my life is that art is the basis of science," he said. "People who value art are people who really know how to deal with problems with life."

— Rachel Gallegos 

... listen twice as much as you talk.

Bob Elliott

  • Age: 72.
  • Born: June 19, 1935, in Chicago.
  • Moved to: Ainsworth in 1945; Iowa City in 1965.
  • Family: Wife Maggie, one daughter, one grandson.
  • Occupation: Retired from ACT in 1998.
  • Interesting fact: Bob was born at home because his mother had whooping cough and was turned away from the hospital.

Never one to pat himself on the back, former newspaper man, ACT employee and Iowa City councilor Bob Elliott claims to have very few words of wisdom.

However, spend a few minutes with him and you'll find that wisdom is something he has no shortage of, whether it's quoting Shakespeare or 19th century poets.

While Elliott seems to have gained a plethora of good advice in his 72 years, one nugget of wisdom may explain why he's learned so much.

"You have two ears and one mouth for good reasons," Elliott said. "You should listen twice as much as you talk."

The practice of listening more than talking has served Elliott in a number of his endeavors over the years. Early in his career, Elliott was a sports reporter. For 30 years, from 1968 until his retirement in 1998, Elliott used those skills working in human resources for ACT. Several years after his retirement, Elliott turned his ears to the community, serving one term as an Iowa City councilor.

While much of the knowledge he's gained he seems to have gleaned from his parents, Elliott keeps his ears open to virtually anyone, picking up words of advice as he goes.

"I think you have to learn constantly," Elliott said. "I think life is filled with a continuity of learning experiences."

However, Elliott said he's not one to give out advice unless it's requested.

"I try not to give out advice or make suggestions unless they're asked for," he said.

And while listening twice as much as he talks seems to have served Elliott well in his life, he admits that sometimes, he has a hard time following his own advice.

"I find that hard to practice sometimes because I enjoy talking," he said.

— Lee Hermiston  

... be the things that you say.

Bump Elliott

  • Age: 83.
  • Born: Bloomington, Ill.
  • Hobbies: Following UI athletics.
  • Family: Wife Barbara, sons Bill and Bob, daughter Betsty, seven grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Retired UI athletics director.
  • Interesting fact: Bump's favorite singer is Frank Sinatra.

Despite his accomplishments, Bump Elliott has largely been a man without a plan.

"I aspire to be successful at the moment, at the time," said the former coach and retired University of Iowa athletics director. "I don't try to make longterm goals; I tried to act right at the moment."

Elliott, 83, was the chief administrator of UI athletics for 21 years.

In his tenure, the program won 41 Big Ten championships and 11 NCAA titles. He also hired notable coaches such as Hayden Fry, Dan Gable and Tom Davis.

Now retired, Elliott lives in Oaknoll Retirement Community with his wife of 54 years, Barbara. He said he follows UI athletics, attending as many games as he can.

"In my life I've been very fortunate and very lucky. Both things have gone well, with my family and my profession," he said.

But his personal and professional successes are attributed to more than pure luck - in both areas, Elliott said he has tried to set an example.

"I felt that words are sometimes OK but not meaningful if you don't live the part," he said. "It was important for me to be the things that you say."

Those things include taking responsibility for his actions, respecting others and - perhaps most importantly - looking for goodness in people.

Elliott grew up a star athlete in his high school in Bloomington, Ill. In his senior year, he decided to join the Marine Corps and was called to active duty a year later.

After being discharged, Elliott attended the University of Michigan, where played fullback on the football team. He made the All-American team and was voted Most Valuable Player in the Big Nine Conference to win the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy.

After graduation, Elliott said he didn't know what to do with his life. As a result, he ended up in athletics. He became an assistant backfield coach at Michigan and later was hired to be the assistant coach at Oregon State.

As a coach, Elliott said he realized what he liked doing and what he was good at, which was helping young people.

"Athletics is a lot of talking. They say a lot of things about making the man or the woman, that kind of thing," he said. "I wanted to do less talking and set an example."

— Hieu Pham 

... live virtuously, with honesty and integrity.

Shirley Frauenholtz

  • Age: 72.
  • Born: Feb. 24, 1935, in Clinton.
  • Moved to West Liberty: 51 years ago from Princeton.
  • Family: Husband Bob, two children and two grandchildren.
  • Occupation: House wife.
  • Greatest accomplishment: Being married 50 years.

For West Liberty resident Shirley Frauenholtz, some of the most poignant words of advice she ever received came from a friend. Frauenholtz, 72, attends a Christian fellowship group for an hour a week at Simpson Nursing Home. That's where she met Wanda Elder, 90. Being around Elder has changed her life, she said.

"She said one day, 'Choose carefully how you live your life, as it may be the only Bible some people will ever read,'" Frauenholtz said. "I think it kind of made me think about the life I live and want to live."

Frauenholtz said she can't explain why the words have so much meaning for her or why Elder - whom she just met not long ago - has had such an impact on her.

"It just struck a chord with me, I think," she said. "She's just got the most wonderful outlook on life. She's just such a kind person."

Frauenholtz said she hopes she has taught the people in her life to live virtuously and with honesty and integrity.

"I think you should live your life with the values that you can pass to your children and grandchildren so they can look up to you," she said. "I think it should be practiced in your everyday lives."

Frauenholtz said being a good parent is one way people can have a big impact on their legacy, if they choose to have children.

After her son was born, her mother came to stay with her a week. When it was time for her mother to leave, Frauenholtz said she remembers exactly what she said.

"She stopped at the gate and turned to me and said, 'Shirley, a good mother has to have all the patience in the world,"' she said. "Children need your love and patience the most when they are acting up and being the least loveable."

But, Frauenholtz said, being an example to someone else means being OK with making mistakes.

"Everyone can have a weakness," she said. "No one lives a perfect life. Sometimes we get too critical of other people's lives. We're not the judge."

— Kathryn Fiegen

... make the most of what's available.

Annie Gardner

  • Age: 55.
  • Born: Aug. 16, 1952, in Grenada, Miss.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 2003.
  • Family: Sons Wally Brown and Martiza Anderson, and seven grandchildren.
  • Interesting fact: Gardner loves to travel, enjoys jazz music and used to compete in several bowling leagues.

When the love of Annie Gardner's life moved to Iowa City, she was not far behind.

"I was in love with my grandson," Gardner said. "When they moved up here, I just had a fit."

Gardner, 55, followed her first grandson and his mother when they left Chicago four years ago for Iowa City. Gardner knew she could thrive in a new environment.

Her most valued advice is to make the most of what is available.

"There are so many things that are offered to you," Gardner said. "If you take them and work with them, you'll be pretty good."

Gardner, who seems to know or meet someone everywhere she goes, found a network of local support in the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County.

"I got to know a lot of nice people," she said.

She met the kind of people who help out in a crisis, such as the morning Gardner woke up in pain so great she could not walk.

The pain she felt was rheumatoid arthritis, chronic arthritis that occurs in joints on both sides of the body. People from the centers ran errands for her and took her to appointments during her worst times of sickness.

Gardner can no longer work in daycare like she used to. Yet she refuses to let her ailments defeat her. Gardner worked with a job coach to find a job safe for her condition.

"If I can work, I'm going to work," said Gardner, a cafeteria attendant for a year now at Goodwill Industries of Southeast Iowa.

Each morning, she prepares the cafeteria, which she refers to as "my kitchen," for employees and helps those with disabilities prepare their food.

Gardner continues to devote a large part of her life to children. Known to many as "Miss Annie," "Granny Annie" and "Old Lady," she has volunteered at Halloween parties, filled children's back-to-school bookbags, and prepared food for cookouts at the neighborhood centers.

Each time Gardner visits the centers, she meets new people. "In most ways, that's good, because you get all kinds of information," she said.

"It's the listening to people - not thinking that you know so much that you can't listen or learn something every day," she said.

— Megan Carney  

... pursue something that makes you happy.

Christine Grant

  • Age: 71.
  • Born: May 26, 1936, in Bo'ness, Scotland.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1969.
  • Family: Family info goes here.
  • Occupation: University of Iowa associate professor, Department of Health and Sports Studies; retired UI women's athletics director.
  • Greatest accomplishment: Being at the forefront in the push for gender equity.

Despite everything she has accomplished, former University of Iowa women's athletics director Christine Grant will tell you that she's never worked a day in her life.

"I read some place that if you have a job that you love, you'll never work a day in your life," Grant said. "And I have loved the jobs I've had."

Grant said too often young people are driven by the desire to make money. She said it's better to pursue something that makes you happy.

"I can't imagine having done that, no way," Grant said. "You may have money, but you're not rich."

Grant was born and raised in Scotland and started playing competitive sports when she was 11. She knew almost immediately that sports would be her calling in life.

She eventually moved from Scotland in the early 1960s to Canada, where she got involved with field hockey. Grant had been living in Canada for just a year when she was asked to coach the Canadian National Field Hockey team.

"We knew we needed to start a national organization, the Canadian National Field Hockey Association, because Canada had pockets of field hockey all over, but there was no organization," she said.

"And I helped organize a national organization, and I thought, 'Boy, isn't this terrific?'"

Grant then was named Canada's promotions director for field hockey. It was the start of a career in sports administration that ultimately led to Grant being hired as the first women's athletics director at UI.

"I had no intention of becoming an athletic director," Grant said. "It just worked out that way."

Grant attended summer school at UI in 1968 and then became a full-time student in 1969.

She was finishing her Ph.D. when she was hired as the women's athletics director in 1973. She then spent nearly three decades building the Iowa women's athletics program into a Big Ten power, while also leading the push for gender equity and being a spokeswoman for Title IX.

Grant has received numerous awards and honors in throughout her career. In 2007, she was named as one of the top 100 Influential Sports Educators in America by the Institute of International Sport and received the NCAA President's Gerald R. Ford Award, which honors an individual who has provided significant leadership as an advocate for intercollegiate athletics.

"I think I've made a little bit of a difference with regard to educating people about the fairness of equal opportunity," Grant said.

— Pat Harty  

All children can learn.

Dale Hibbs

  • Age: 67.
  • Born: May 31, 1940, in Omaha, Neb.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1974.
  • Family: Wife Kristin Hibbs, sons Jonathan and Matt.
  • Occupation: Part-time government and economics teacher at Regina High.
  • Interesting fact: Dale is training for a mixed martial arts cage fight.

Dale Hibbs said he has taught just about every kind of student during his 42 years in the classroom.

He taught in poor neighborhoods in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., and in Waterloo. He taught students from wealthy families in Rochester, Minn. He taught children of factory workers in Newton, and farmers' children in Eagle Grove. He taught a variety of children during 29 years at City High, and religious students during the last two years as a government and economics teacher at Regina High.

He has determined one thing from his experiences: All children can learn.

"I've taught about every kind of kid on the planet," said Hibbs, 67. "All kids can learn."

Three things are universal when it comes to teaching, Hibbs said. First, every child needs to know who is in charge.

"They need to know where the boundaries are," he said.

Second, a teacher has to make teaching relevant to what is going on in the students' lives, he said. A teacher needs to bring home a lesson to students, such as those on military actions approved by the government since World War II. "They need to know the president can kill you," Hibbs said.

Finally, a teacher needs to have good examples along with his lessons, he said. As an example from his own life, Hibbs showed how he coached a boxer in Cedar Rapids on different fighting techniques, and how amazed he was when they worked.

"All of a sudden, I understand geometry," he said. "I understand angles."

Hibbs said he was able to use his experiences as a state legislator in the 1970s and as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., to teach government.

"When you teach government out of the book, it's not true at all," he said. "I've been really lucky because a lot of the examples I can use. You make education relevant."

— Rob Daniel 

 ... learn something you never knew before.

Loren Horton

  • Age: 74.
  • Born: March 16, 1933, in Hopeville.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1969.
  • Family: Wife Carol.
  • Occupation: Retired from Iowa State Historical Society in 1996.
  • Greatest accomplishment: He has written five books, including three on the history of Iowa.

Loren Horton has spent his life educating others, and it should be no surprise that knowledge is what he most wants younger people to appreciate.

"Take every opportunity to learn something you never knew before," he said. "I tried to learn what was being taught in school. But there's a lot of things you can learn from other people, too."

Horton spent 24 years as senior historian and field representative at the State Historical Society of Iowa, driving 25,000 miles per year around the state.

"I drove a lot of small roads and met an awful lot of interesting people," he said.

One thing he learned over those years was that people can be positive or negative role models.

"You can take a positive thing and use some imitation," Horton said. "Or it can be a negative thing, that you want to avoid another person's mistakes."

Horton earned bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls when it was still called the Iowa State Teachers' College. He came to Iowa City in 1969 to earn a Ph.D. and then taught for 17 years at various levels from junior high through college before joining the historical society.

Retirement may have slowed his car, but not the man. Horton is an active member of the Johnson County Conservation Board and the Police Citizen's Review Board. He's also served time on the Johnson County Historic Preservation Commission, the Iowa City Riverfront Commission and the Iowa City Planning and Zoning Commission.

And he's active in programs at the Senior Center, frequently giving lectures there.

"I try not to get bored," he said. "There are hours in the day you have to be something. It might as well not be sitting around and staring at the walls."

— Jon Klinkowitz  

Read the comics. Stay away from credit cards.

Glenn Jablonski

  • Age: 90.
  • Born: June 2, 1917, in Big Rapids, Mich.
  • Moved to Iowa City: for graduate school in 1948.
  • Family: Wife Sally, sons David, Joel, Daniel, Aaron and Carl (deceased), daughter Elise Karpan.
  • Interesting fact: Jablonski served as choral director of City High for 29 years.

Each day, Glenn Jablonski makes it a point to read the comics.

"It is where the real truth is," said Jablonski, 90.

Comic writers tell things the way they are, Jablonski said of why he's a fan.

His favorite comic, hands down, is Walt Kelly's "Pogo."

The most popular quote of Pogo, a possum, is: "We have met the enemy and he is us."

Jablonski said his advice to people of any age is to read the comics.

Another one of his favorites is the often-political comic, "Doonesbury," by G.B. Trudeau.

A close second nugget of wisdom, Jablonski says, is to stay away from credit cards.

Though the retired City High choral director, who still sings with the Voices of Experience at the Senior Center, does have a card, he pays it off each month.

He's seen too many people get caught in the credit card trap and not be able to dig themselves out.

"It is so easy to spend more than you make," said Jablonski, who lives in Iowa City. "If you do that, it is disaster."

He urges people to drop the "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality.

— Deanna Truman  

Stay active, keep moving.

Roy Justis

  • Age: 67.
  • Born: July 20, 1940, in Baltimore, Md.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1969.
  • Family: Wife Rita, four children, six grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Adjunct journalism professor at UI and sports marketer with UI athletic department.
  • Interesting fact: He met his wife, Rita, when both had the lead roles in the Cedar Falls High School musical "The Emperor's New Clothes." The couple married in 1960.

Roy Justis said there are two things that have kept him going during his 67 years: Staying active and keeping moving.

"That's easy to say if you have your health," said Justis, former long-time radio host at KXIC 800-AM. "A lot of people, when they get older, think it's their time to relax."

He kept moving when he first started his broadcasting career at the age of 16 in Cedar Falls. Even after majoring in business at the University of Northern Iowa, he remained in radio, eventually landing at KXIC in Iowa City. During his 37 years there as program and news director, he hosted the popular "Roy Justis Morning Show." He retired in March 2006 after a contract dispute with KXIC owner, Clear Channel Communications.

However, during that time, Justis said he stayed active using the talents he had and connections he had made.

"I was fortunate to be blessed with a voice that carried me through," he said. "I got exposed to a lot of people who were movers and shakers."

Four months after his retirement, he became an adjunct professor in the University of Iowa's School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He also does public relations and marketing work with the UI athletic department, interviewing athletes for the department's Web site.

"This way mom and dad can hear them online," he said.

Justis also occasionally picks up vehicles sold at auction, recently driving to Indianapolis. He said his work post-KXIC has kept him going.

"Keeping your mind active keeps you active," Justis said. "I'm not sitting down."

— Rob Daniel 

... always tell the truth.

Nancy Kaiser

  • Age: 71.
  • Born: Jan. 4, 1937, in Clarion.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1993.
  • Family: Husband Glenn, sons Michael, Mark, Christopher, and daughter Lisa.
  • Occupation: Retired from teaching special education in 2002.
  • Greatest accomplishment: "Helping raise four successful children with the help of my husband. I think that's a big achievement."

Nancy Kaiser was in elementary school living on a farm in Wright County near Clarion when she learned a lesson she passed on throughout her career in teaching.

She thought back to a time when she broke a spring on a saw that her father had borrowed from a friend.

"My father was a strong disciplinarian and I was scared to death," she said. "I not only broke something that he was using, but it was a friend's. I was scared."

She contemplated not telling him, but figured once he found the broken spring, she would wind up in even more trouble. So the moment he pulled in the drive that afternoon, she ran up to his car.

"I remember it so clearly," she said. "I ran and told him, and I didn't get in trouble. It seemed to me that he respected the fact that I was honest and didn't lie to him, and it paid off. I always tried to tell my students and my children, too, not to lie because you have two problems, you're in double-trouble. It's best always to tell the truth. Even if you're going to get in trouble, it's better than getting in trouble twice - once for the deed and once for not telling the truth."

Kaiser started teaching as a 19-year-old in a two-room country school in Galt. She later spent 17 years staying at home to raise her four children before returning to teaching in 1982, splitting time as a special education teacher at Northeast Hamilton and Dows before arriving at West High in 1993.

She said she hasn't often told the story about breaking the spring on the saw, but the importance of telling the truth is a lesson she has stressed to her students.

"My father's reaction showed that he respected me because I was brave enough to tell him the truth," she said. "I tried to teach my students that people respect them if they were truthful, even if it seemed easier to lie."

— Andy Hamilton  

... appreciate your friends.

Grace Katzenmeyer

  • Age: 77.
  • Born: Mercy Hospital in Iowa City.
  • Family: Son Chris, daughter DeeDee, six grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Works parttime at the University of Iowa Library
  • Greatest accomplishment: Her work as a librarian.

In January 1936, Grace Katzenmeyer started kindergarten at Longfellow Elementary School.

She made a lot of new friends, but she became especially close with three other girls in her kindergarten class.

More than 70 years later, nothing has changed. Katzenmeyer and her three former kindergarten classmates - Barb Feeney, Mary Elaine (Poggenpohl) Oxford and Lois (Dunlap) Beasley - still live in or near Iowa City and are as close as ever.

They also added a fifth friend to their group when they met Betty (Brenneman) Raher in the seventh grade.

"We included her even though she didn't start kindergarten with us," Katzenmeyer said.

The group still meets regularly to celebrate each other's birthdays. And rarely does a day go by when they don't talk to each other on the telephone.

Their friendships have withstood the test of time and distance. Katzenmeyer moved away from Iowa City from 1959 to 1980, but she never lost touch with her friends.

She learned early in life that few things are more precious than having friends. Her advice to the younger generation is to appreciate your friends because life is much better with them.

"Especially (because) women end up alone a lot," said Katzenmeyer, who has been married before, but is now single. "We really care about one another as friends."

That was apparent after Katzenmeyer was diagnosed with cancer in 2000. Barb Feeney and her late husband, Richard, did all they could to help out.

"The first surgery I had, Barb and her husband drove me there at 5 in the morning over to the university hospital and Burlington Street was a sheet of ice," Katzenmeyer said. "And they stayed with me.

"And then I had a second cancer surgery and Barb was there. She was the first one I saw when I woke up."

Katzenmeyer said the group often reminisces about their childhood days growing up in Iowa City. Many of the things they talk about happened more than 70 years ago.

"Oh my goodness, we still talk about some of the things that happened in kindergarten," Grace said. "I can remember Mary-Elaine, when I was crying in kindergarten, she put her arm around me. And I can remember her telling the other kids, 'Grace doesn't like the way her hair looks.'

"My mom had braided my hair that morning and the braids were too tight."

— Pat Harty  

... get the best education possible.

Gary Kellogg

  • Age: 68.
  • Born: April 9, 1939, in Strawberry Point.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1965.
  • Family: Wife Catherine, son Alan, 40, daughter Julia Jordan, 25, five grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Retired as an accountant for Fansteel-Washington Manufacturing.
  • Greatest accomplishment: Serving in the U.S. Air Force.

For somebody who never finished college, Gary Kellogg still managed to earn a comfortable living as an accountant.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s, Kellogg began working his way up the employment ladder. He overcame not having a college degree to become a controller for a large corporation. But Kellogg wouldn't recommend that today because the job market is too competitive.

"I think during the times that I grew up, (employers) didn't put as much emphasis on it," Kellogg said of having a college degree.

Kellogg said it now would be virtually impossible to follow the path he took as an accountant without a college degree.

"Even while I was working, I was a controller for a company and my peers had CPAs and MBAs and that type of thing," Kellogg said. "It's become considerably more competitive now."

That's why Kellogg wants kids to stay in school and be motivated about academics, because these days what you know is more important than who you know.

"The first thing I would strongly recommend would be to maximize your effort in school academically and get the best education possible," Kellogg said.

Kellogg attended several colleges throughout the country while he served in the Air Force, including Coe College, the University of Maryland and McNeese State in Louisiana. But he never found enough time to finish his degree.

"I bounced all over the place," he said. "I was stationed in the Air Force, and then when I got out I was a part-time student. I went to night school for I think 12 to 13 years. And I worked full time."

Kellogg regrets that his circumstances kept him from being able to attend college on a full-time basis directly out of high school.

"Growing up, we had financial restraints, and when I got out (of the Air Force), we didn't have the resources," Kellogg said.

— Pat Harty  

... manage your lifestyle to fit your income.

Noah Kemp

  • Age: 62.
  • Born: April 25, 1945, in Kalona.
  • Has lived in: Kalona his whole life.
  • Family: Wife Linda, daughters Sara O’Donnell, Rachel Knebel and Katie Miller, and two grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Owns three Professional Muffler shops in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.
  • Greatest accomplishment: “The best thing I ever did was marry my wife.”

He can’t prove it, but Kalona resident Noah Kemp said that if you do without extra things in life for three years, you are ahead of the game financially.

“I can’t document this,” he said. “But you can be ahead of the ball over people who maximize their borrowing limits. You cannot borrow your way out of debt.”

Kemp, 62, is a local business owner who said managing finances is a necessary part of life, but it doesn’t have to be a complicated one.

“If your out-go exceeds your income, then you have a problem,” he said. “Most people try to manage their income to try and fit their lifestyle, and that’s backwards. You need to manage your lifestyle to fit your income.”

Kemp said when he was younger, it wasn’t so hard to not spend money. There wasn’t much to begin with, he said.

“And when my friends were going out to eat, I couldn’t so often,” Kemp said. “I didn’t suffer.”

Kemp said as he got older and was building his business, he made financial decisions carefully and slowly.

“You have to be prepared for opportunities,” he said. “The last shop I opened, I looked for three years for the right opportunity. There was a time where I was afraid to take the risk and I lost phenomenal opportunities. It was a lesson, and no one ever said education is cheap.”

Kemp said he worries that there is no financial management education for young people. The only people teaching are telling kids how to borrow, he said.

“I’m scared for them,” he said. “Kids expect what their parents have today, and it doesn’t work that way.”

Just knowing how to handle money isn’t enough, though, he said. Kemp said faith has gotten him through many of life’s ups and downs, even if there were no dollar signs attached.

“I have a great faith in God, and I think with that faith I have to credit some of that success, if it is success,” he said.

— Kathryn Fiegen  

... do more than what's expected of you.

Jae-On Kim

  • Age: 70.
  • Born: Jan. 11, 1938, in South Korea.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1971.
  • Family: Wife Sukie, daughter Miera, son Jonathan, and two grandchildren.
  • Interesting fact: Kim is 70 years old, but only 69 by legal documents.

Jae-On Kim does not strive to do what is expected of him. He seeks to do more.

"Learn to think independently, seeing things and doing things a little bit beyond what's conventionally expected of you," said Kim, a sociology professor at the University of Iowa since 1970.

Born in 1938 in a South Korean village where many children were buried before their first birthdays, Kim has always risen above expectations.

Kim's parents waited nearly six months to register him as a baby until they were sure he would survive. That's why Kim has several birth dates: His actual birthday (Jan. 11), his registration date (May 27), and the date his parents celebrated his birthday on the solar calendar (Dec. 11).

At 24, Kim moved to the United States as a graduate student and set high goals for his education and career.

"Intellectual independence comes from studying, observing and a great deal of reflection as well," he said.

After earning his master's degree in 1964 from Southern Illinois University, Kim went to the University of California-Berkeley. There, he completed his Ph.D. and met his wife, Sukie.

After marriage, the Kims waited several years to have children, which was unconventional in Kim's family. Sukie gave birth to a baby girl in 1972, followed by a son, Jonathan.

The Kims' daughter, Miera, now with two children of her own, lives just several blocks from Kim's office in Iowa City.

"That's the best part of my life right now," Kim said of his grandchildren, ages 5 and 3. "Learning to appreciate what you have is one of the good things you can acquire in your life."

It is the same with people, he said. "You always deal with the positive side of people you meet and you're going to be OK," Kim said.

Kim gained insight about people from years studying, researching and teaching sociology. He has contributed to more than 17 books and has written at least 24 scholarly articles. In addition, Kim is director emeritus of the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies.

Besides a "minor" goal to continue to promote cultural and economic exchanges between the UI and countries in East Asia, he said he has no major ambitions left to fulfill.

"I had a very satisfactory life," he said.

— Megan Carney 

... treat others like you want to be treated.

Hubert Krotz

  • Age: 81.
  • Born: Nov. 21, 1926, in Washington County, south of Riverside.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1948.
  • Family: Son Michael, daughters, Sherry, DeeDee and Tammy.
  • Occupation: Retired from the painting business in 1999.
  • Greatest accomplishment: Working in the painting business for about 60 years and living here for about the same amount of time.

Hubert Krotz's handiwork can be seen in various locations throughout Eastern Iowa.

"There are not too many things I haven't touched in my lifetime," said Krotz, 81.

In the painting business for about 60 years, his work can be seen from his and other mobile homes in the Bon-Air Mobile Home Lodge to painting projects for Hotel Roosevelt in Cedar Rapids.

His advice is to "treat other people like you would like to be treated."

"I've always tried to be a gentleman with everyone else. Ladies as well as men," he said.

He said he hopes his legacy will be that others will continue to act and serve as he has throughout his life.

"I've always had a very positive attitude about everything," Krotz said.

That type of outlook is something he said is important for people to have, to pull them through the tough times.

He said he is grateful for his family - the years he took care of his wife, who died from cancer, and his children who now take care of him.

He said he developed a vast number of friendships thanks to his work and working with people.

When he bought his mobile home 30 years ago, he wanted a deck and carport, so he built them himself.

When others in the mobile home park saw his handiwork, they asked him to build theirs as well. He estimated he did projects for about 15 other homes in the park, not including the painting he did inside many more.

His work in life has not been to get rich, but rather to satisfy people, he said.

— Rachel Gallegos  

... be faithful, friendly and forgiving.

Marguerite Kuebrich

  • Age: 99.
  • Born: August 1908 in Cosgrove.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1930.
  • Occupation: Retired from Mercy Hospital.
  • Interesting fact: Marguerite was a twin.

Each year, Marguerite Kuebrich helps fund a child's Catholic education.

But Kuebrich, an Iowa City resident for 78 years, would never tell you that.

After the death of her sister in 1999, Kuebrich established the Stella and Marguerite Kuebrich Scholarship for students of Regina Catholic Education Center.

Kuebrich, 99, has exhibited generosity throughout her life, but she does not like to boast about her former career at Mercy Hospital, her past volunteer duties at St. Mary's Catholic Church or years she spent caring for her sick parents.

Kuebrich and her sister, Stella, lived together and actively supported Catholic education for years. All of Kuebrich's siblings, including a brother who was a priest, are now deceased.

Kuebrich has sat through many funerals, but throughout all the high and low points of life, Kuebrich tries to "be faithful, friendly and forgiving."

Kuebrich has depended on her faith to get through difficult times, including several serious surgeries. "Lots of times, I've had to trust in God," she said.

Kuebrich has belonged to St. Mary's Catholic Church since her family moved to Iowa City in 1930. Each day, Kuebrich walks the several blocks from her home at Ecumenical Towers to the church for Mass.

Kuebrich loves when friends call or stop by her apartment, where she has lived for nine years.

"We are really one family," she said. "It's a good place to live."

Kuebrich can socialize with neighbors in the dining hall if she wants, or she can fix her food in her cozy apartment. Kuebrich is glad to be self-sufficient.

"I have had a long, fulfilling life," she said. "I am able to live independently, and I am still breathing."

She continues to amaze people with her intense faith, kindness and modesty.

Although she does not try to be, she is different. She possesses a rare combination of selflessness, strength and humility.

"It's great to be unique," Kuebrich said.

— Megan Carney  

... don't take life too seriously.

Ethel Madison

  • Born: In Memphis, Tenn.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1966.
  • Family: Husband Eugene, three children and six grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Retired from Evert Connor Center for Independent Living in 2002.
  • Greatest accomplishment: Established federal funding to start the Center for Independent Living in Iowa City, and raising three "terrific" children.

Ethel Madison knows how to have a good time.

The retired director for the Evert Connor Center for Independent Living spent years trying to make life easier for those with disabilities. It taught her to enjoy what she has.

"My motto is that people should not take things too seriously," Madison said. "Considering with people with disabilities, people that seem to have so many barriers, you look at the things that you have and compare it with people that don't have those things.

"You've got so much, but there are so many people still struggling for the basics . housing, transportation, goods and services. All the things you whine and complain about are not that big."

Madison was born and raised in the South and grew up with great music and great food. Her and her husband, retired University of Iowa math professor Eugene Madison, moved to Iowa City in the mid-1960s. They ran a local nightclub, the Boulevard Room, from 1973 to 1983 before Ethel joined the Evert Connor center.

When the director left, she moved in to secure funding to expand the program to involve community outreach and education, and to serve as an advocate for the rights of the disabled.

"I thought that was the coolest thing that I'd ever heard of, to start a program like that," Madison said. "In 1994, we got federal funds and I worked with the board to become an independent living center. It allowed many more programs."

"When you live as long as I have, you find there are a lot of things more serious and need a lot more attention than to be self absorbed," she said. "You need to broaden your experiences."

Since retiring in 2002, Madison has done a lot of traveling.

— Jon Klinkowitz  

... if you like your job, continue doing it.

Jane McCune

  • Age: 70.
  • Born: Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1968.
  • Family: Husband Robert Wachal and three cats.
  • Occupation: Realtor, co-owner of Blank & McCune The Real Estate Co.
  • Greatest accomplishment: Starting a company in 1979 with another woman that has proven to be very successful.

When Jane McCune and Jackie Blank were ready to start their real estate business in 1979, they approached their banker, lawyer and accountant.

"All of whom were men and all of whom advised us against it," McCune said. That, however, only made the two even more determined.

"We set out to prove them wrong," she said.

Almost 30 years later, McCune still co-owns the business she loves, saying its success came from having "some very happy clients."

Her advice to others is "if they like their jobs, continue doing it."

At 70, she's at an age when many of her peers are retiring, but she said she plans to keep working as long as she can.

If the person doesn't love the job they're in, she suggests finding another or a different type of activity they enjoy and volunteer.

"The point is to do something you love doing," she said.

Along with real estate, she spends her time as a member of the board of directors for both the Johnson County Heritage Trust and the Iowa City Animal Task Force, groups that match two of her passions - nature and animals.

McCune said she grew up in a family that spent a lot of time outdoors camping and fishing. Now she enjoys bird watching, gardening and hiking; locally her favorite hiking spot is by the reservoir.

She said her career continues to interest her because "everyone's situation is unique."

"I enjoy the camaraderie with my colleagues, and I also enjoy working with my clients," she said. "The problems are challenging and the rewards are great."

— Rachel Gallegos 

... always be active.

Betty McKray

  • Age: 86.
  • Born: Columbus City.
  • Family: Daughters Shannon, 55, and Erin, 52; son Lincoln, 50, and two grandsons.
  • Hobbies: Genealogy, family histories and "running things."
  • Interesting fact: Betty likes Harrison Ford movies.

Betty McKray said the key to happiness is to always keep busy.

"I've had a good life, and I think that has to do with always being active," said McKray, 86. "I wanted to be a part of things."

McKray just finished two terms as chairwoman of the Resident Council at Oaknoll Retirement Residence in Iowa City, where she lives. She also has taught genealogy classes for Kirkwood Community College and the Senior Center, and chaired the Iowa City Cable Commission. For fun, she keeps tabs on the local theater scene.

"I think keeping busy makes you a part of what's going on," she said.

McKray always has been goal-oriented, a trait she attributes to having grown up the eldest of 10 children during the Great Depression. Despite the family's hardships, McKray said her parents always showed her that anything was possible with hard work and perseverance.

"I'm very fortunate that I don't feel that I was deprived or denied opportunities," she said. "My parents were really creative at making do of things. We grew a garden for food, we raised fruit trees and honey bees; we made ends meet."

McKray moved to Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa, where she graduated with a degree in social work.

"I grew up thinking all I had to do was get to college. If I got a diploma, I could do anything," she said.

McKray took a job in rural Johnson County after graduation but soon joined the Womens Army Corp. For more than two years, she interviewed recruits as a classifications specialist.

After the war ended, McKray returned to social work. She worked for the University of Iowa until her retirement in 1985.

Seven years ago, McKray's husband died and since then she has lived at Oaknoll. Her three children are spread across the country but McKray said she doesn't get lonely.

When she isn't attending Resident Council meetings or teaching people how to delve into their family histories, she is looking for something else to occupy her time.

"You are never too old to be active," she said.

— Hieu Pham  

... surround yourself with good people.

Bob Oldis

  • Age: 80.
  • Born: Jan. 5, 1928, in Preston.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1932.
  • Family: Wife Rosemary, daughter Susan, deceased sons Robert and John.
  • Occupation: Major league baseball scout for the Florida Marlins.
  • Greatest accomplishment: Throwing out legendary base stealer Maury Wills twice in the same game.

Bob Oldis was reflecting on 60 years in professional baseball when he came to the conclusion that two fundamental principles enabled him to have a prosperous career in the sport: Surrounding himself with good people and taking advantage of his opportunities.

Oldis said those ideologies are lessons that people of all ages can employ in any career path. In his case, he said his skills improved greatly as a youngster when he competed against players four and five years older, including his brother, Edward.

"I was lucky enough to play with people a lot older than me," Oldis said. "I wasn't very good, but I learned from older people. You get better when you play with people better than you, and you're never at the top of the ladder because you're learning things."

Oldis climbed the ladder into professional baseball coming out of City High. He got his first big break in 1949 as a minor leaguer in Emporia, Va. Oldis was a back-up catcher until the starter, a Cuban named Orlando Echevarria, told the manager he wasn't feeling well enough to play during a doubleheader on a hot summer day.

Thus, Oldis got his opportunity.

"In the second inning of the first game of the double-header, believe it or not, I hit two home runs in one inning," Oldis said. "In the fourth inning, (Echevarria) comes out and says, 'Coach, I feel better.' (The manager) said, 'You just sit here. Bob will catch both games.' From then on, I played pretty much the rest of the season. Getting a break at the right time, that was a great break for me."

Oldis reached the big leagues four years later with the Washington Senators. He spent seven seasons in the majors, playing for the World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960, getting three hits in one game off Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax and throwing out legendary base-stealer Maury Wills twice in one game.

Oldis has been a professional scout for nearly 40 years, currently working for the Florida Marlins.

— Andy Hamilton  

A loose tongue will get you in a tight place.

Grace Olmsted

  • Age: 83.
  • Born: May 9, 1925, in Washington.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1943
  • Family: Husband Hank Olmstead, died in 1984; one daughter, five sons, four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, three step-great-grandchildren
  • Occupation: Former dietary supervisor, Von Maur sales associate, retired from Hy-Vee in 1992.
  • Interesting fact: Olmsted has lived in the same house since graduating from the University of Iowa in 1947.

Grace Olmsted enjoys a good conversation.

Topics range from her extended family, old stories about her parents and grandparents and her experiences growing up in Iowa during the Great Depression.

But one thing that you'll probably never hear coming out of Olmsted's mouth is a single word of gossip or slander.

"A loose tongue will get you in a tight place," Olmsted said.

It's an old adage, but one that has stuck with Olmsted, a former dietary supervisor. Olmsted said she was only about 10 years old when her mother scrawled those words of wisdom into her autograph book.

Olmsted, a 1947 graduate of the University of Iowa, said other members of her family helped reinforce that message with similar words most of us have heard at one point or another in our lives.

"My grandma said, 'If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all,'" she said.

Olmstead admits that she likes to talk a lot, something she picked up from her father, who she said was, "quite a talker." But she's always careful about what she says and especially about what she asks for.

Though she's been a widow for more than 20 years, Olmstead said she'll never ask for help from her five children. It's a lesson that she's learned from her father's experience. Once a prominent electrician on the East Coast at the turn of the 20th century, Olmsted said her father gave up his passion to help his father's struggling Iowa farm. Olmsted said she thinks her father never got over that decision.

And while she's not one to ask for much, Olmsted warned to be careful to watch what you say, no matter what situation you're in.

"It can get you into difficulty because you can lose friends and jobs if you said the wrong thing at the wrong time," she said.

— Lee Hermiston  

Love your country.

Joe Panozzo

  • Age: 81.
  • Born: Jan. 13, 1927, in Chicago.
  • Moved to West Branch in: 2005.
  • Family: Wife Josephine, sons Joe and Angelo (deceased), three grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Retired as an executive with Roper Corp. in Rockford, Ill., and Carnation and Erie Foods in Rochelle, Ill., in 1995.
  • Interesting fact: He volunteered for the U.S. Army to fight in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s in place of his son, Angelo. He was turned down due to his age.

Joe Panozzo loves the United States of America so much he is willing to fight for it.

The son of Italian immigrants, he was born in Chicago and spent much of his childhood in Rockford, Ill.

In September 1939 when he was 12 years old, he and his family moved to a small town near Vicenza, Italy. World War II was beginning, and Benito Mussolini's fascist Italy was on the side of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Life immediately became difficult when he and his brother were taken by the Italian police to be sent to an internment camp because they were Americans. A well-placed bribe from his father saved them from imprisonment.

When the U.S. entered the war in December 1941, Panozzo said he went underground, and at the age of 14, he worked to smuggle American and British pilots shot down over Italy out of the country.

"We were the 'Americanos,'" said Panozzo, now 81 and living in West Branch. "It was a difficult life, but as far as I was concerned, it was something I had to do."

In December 1943, Mussolini was overthrown, and Italy switched to the Allied side. After the Allies won, Panozzo returned to the U.S. in 1946.

He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1950 and sent to fight in Korea. He spent 18 months there and got frostbite. The injury has lingered ever since, but has not dampened his spirit or love for his country.

"I have such a passion for our country," Panozzo said. "It's beyond what you think a person who's been through two wars would have."

He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1956 after receiving a commendation from the British government for his work during World War II. He returned to Rockford and embarked on his career as an executive for several companies in Rockford and in Rochelle, Ill., of which he became the mayor from 1991 to 1995.

Panozzo wrote two books about his experiences: A recounting of his experiences in Italy, "An American in Jeopardy," and the story of his time fighting in the Korean War, "One Man's Journey to War."

"Love your country," he said. "That's all I care about."

— Rob Daniel  

This is the only life you have, make it count.

Marge Penney

  • Age: 64.
  • Born: May 11, 1943, in Bayonne, N.J.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1966.
  • Family: Partner T.J. Lea.
  • Occupation: Special projects for James Investment Group.
  • Greatest accomplishment: She describes herself as a "lifelong feminist from a family of feminists."

Marge Penney has reinvented herself a number of times. She's had multiple careers. She has retired. She has unretired. She moved far away from her roots in her early 20s and has stayed in the Midwest ever since.

Yet she offers advice that she received from her mother relatively recently in her life, at a time we euphemistically call middle age.

"I can remember her saying this pretty clearly," Penney said. "'Remember this is not a dress rehearsal. This is the only life you have, so make it count.'"

Penney was about 50 years old at the time and contemplating what she called "life changes." She talked with her 72-year-old mother about it.

"They were changes I was interested in making, and I was uneasy about doing it," Penney recalled.

Her mother, Claire D'Esposito, was encouraging her to trust herself, that it was OK to undertake these changes.

"Honestly, I think that is important advice to people who have reached middle age," Penney said. "That in youth in our culture we are encouraged to take a chance and follow our dreams. Somehow that slips away as you get older and you're supposed to be more careful and cautious. Mother wasn't a great believer in careful and cautious."

— Susan Harman  

... never quit.

Dianna Penny

  • Age: 67.
  • Born: Nov. 15, 1940, in St. Louis.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1958.
  • Family: Sisters Jane and Barbara, and brothers Nick, John and Joseph.
  • Occupation: Secretary at University of Iowa cardiovascular center.
  • Interesting fact: Her brother, John, is a jazz musician in Minneapolis.

Dianna Penny has lived a life of ups and downs.

She grew up, in her words, "black and poor" in central and southern Illinois, following her minister father, the Rev. Fred L. Penny, from church assignment to church assignment.

In each of those stops, she learned to raise chickens, a skill needed to survive in a poor, rural environment. In Alton, Ill., she and her growing family lived above a men's clothing store.

Despite the poverty, she said she never gave up pursuing something more.

"I think the biggest thing is never quit," said Penny, now 67 and living in Iowa City. "We were black and poor. But our day-to-day lives were different. We had full, wonderful lives."

Penny, who now is a secretary at the University of Iowa's cardiovascular center and a prominent member of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Iowa City, said she learned how to kill and cook a chicken by the time she was 9. While living in Alton, Ill., her father hunted, bringing home meat.

The only entertainment in the house was an old radio, through which Penny and her siblings developed a passion for music, including opera and jazz.

"I was exposed to every type of music," Penny said. "Life was so rich in other ways."

When the family home in Chester, Ill., burned down when she was 16 years old, she witnessed true generosity as the community rallied around the family, providing food and clothing. Her high school chorus director provided a new piano for her to replace the one lost in the fire.

"That was a miracle," Penny said. "It was just ordinary people putting on a class act. I said I'll never be afraid and I'll always have faith after experiencing that."

— Rob Daniel 

... always have several interests.

John Raffensperger

  • Age: 67.
  • Born: July 13, 1940, in Waterloo.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1948.
  • Family: Wife Sharon, two children and three grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Retired from coaching track at City High in 2003.
  • Greatest accomplishment: Induction into the University of Northern Iowa Athletic Hall of Fame.

John Raffensperger is best known as one of the greatest high school track coaches in the state of Iowa. But there's more to him than a clipboard and a whistle.

That's just what has made his life a success.

"I always had other interests," Raffensperger said. "You've got to have some other things."

Although his greatest success came on the track, he diversified from early on. He was a two-sport athlete in college at the University of Northern Iowa, splitting time between the track and the football gridiron. He also coached both sports at City High, where he taught social studies for 36 years.

He also sang in choir during and after college and remains active at the Johnson County Senior Center.

"I could forget the stress of coaching and everything else," Raffensperger said.

He retired from coaching in 2003 after winning 10 boys state track titles with the Little Hawks. He didn't want to continue coaching after retiring from teaching. But he has volunteered time as an unpaid assistant for the University of Iowa men's track team, working under his former star athlete, Joey Woody.

"It's been a good experience," Raffensperger said. "I was kind of apprehensive at first. I was used to working with developing-aged kids. But the more I'm around it, the more I see that kids are kids, if they're 16 or 21."

Raffensperger said his sense of humor also has been a key to his happy life.

"Don't take yourself too seriously," he said. "If you take yourself too seriously, you set yourself up for a fall."

— Jon Klinkowitz  

... cultivate and nurture friendships.

Mary Beth Schuppert

  • Age: 84.
  • Born: Aug. 3, 1923, in Omaha, Neb. Grew up in Holstein. Came to Iowa City in 1941 to attend the University of Iowa. Received a bachelor's of arts in speech and dramatic art.
  • Family: Husband John (deceased), sons David and Chris, daughter-in-law Shelia, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
  • Interesting fact: Schuppert is a founder of the Iowa City Community Theatre. She served as the group's first president./li>

Life sure can get busy, but don't let it get so hectic that you forget your friends. Thus is the advice of Mary Beth Schuppert.

"Make time for your friends and make time for them to come to you," the Iowa City resident said.

"It is extremely important to cultivate and nuture friendships."

Schuppert, 84, says she is blessed to have so many good friends.

While she encourages the making of new friends, she urges people not to forget childhood friends.

"You take them for granted, I think, when you are young," Schuppert said. "It is very important to keep them. "There is nothing like an old friendship."

Many of Schuppert's Iowa City friends came about through her involvement with the Iowa City Community Theatre. Schuppert helped start the theater, which celebrates 53 years in 2008.

While she directed and acted in several of its productions, she often had a more behind-the-scenes role.

She was more than glad to pull up her sleeves and do whatever needed to be done for the theater.

"It wouldn't quite work if we all just acted and directed," said Schuppert with a smile.

— Deanna Truman  

The road to the finish line is often uphill.

Marvin Sims

  • Age: 64.
  • Born: Dec. 11, 1943, in Sedalia, Mo.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1972.
  • Family: Three children, four grandchildren.
  • Occupation: Parapsychologist at University Hospitals
  • Interesting fact: In the late '60s, Sims performed on American Bandstand

Back when The Picador was known as The Pub, a young man named Marvin L. Sims used to swing into town and entertain students with his R&B music.

Nowadays, Sims, 64, is a parapsychologist at University Hospitals. It's a far cry from touring the world playing music and making records. Sims said getting out of the music business was the hardest decision he's ever made. But looking back on that and other challenges he's faced, Sims said it was for the best and led him to develop his personal mantra: "The road to the finish line is often uphill."

Sims said he hasn't always lived by those words, but came to the revelation when he looked back on the challenges he bested that eventually made his life better.

"Basically, it came from assessing my life and I had to beat a lot of odds," he said.

Sims said he grew up in a segregated Missouri town where whites lived on one side of the track and blacks on the other. But that was normal for him. The challenges began in 1961 when one day after graduating from an all-black school, he joined an all-white unit in the U.S. Air Force.

Sims spent six years stateside as an air traffic controller. While stationed near Champaign, Ill., Marvin began performing R&B. After the Air Force, his music career blossomed and at its height, one of his albums, "Talking About Soul," sold 850,000 copies.

But then disco became a fad and R&B lost its popularity. Sims' contacts in the music business stopped returning his calls. So, with his children, dog and life possessions loaded into his car, Sims came to the University of Iowa and started attending college on the G.I. Bill.

"I knew I just couldn't be a bum," he said.

Despite the hardships of raising children, working and going to school fulltime, Sims got his undergraduate degree. He went back to school and got his master's degree in social work a few years later. Now, Sims is helping others understand that challenges are just a way to elevate your life.

"When I see how they deal with change, that is inspiring," Sims said.

— Lee Hermiston 

... recognize what you don't know.

Art Small

  • Age: 74.
  • Born: Oct. 14, 1933, in Brunswick, Maine.
  • Moved to Iowa City in: 1959.
  • Family: Wife Mary Jo, sons Peter and Arthur, and daughter Martha.
  • Occupation: Retired from Small and Haus law firm in 2000.
  • Interesting fact: Art graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law while serving in the Iowa Legislature.

Through his years as an educator and 16 years in the state legislator, one thing Art Small learned is the wisdom of recognizing what you don't know.

"Acknowledge and recognize how little a person knows," the 74-year-old Iowa City resident said. "You might know a lot about one subject, but that doesn't flop over to everything else."

People can't know everything. When they pretend to, it can have a range of negative consequences that could be avoided by simply exercising some humility, Small said.

Small, a Democrat, served in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1971 to 1978 and in the Iowa Senate from 1979 to 1986. He taught at St. Ambrose University and Purdue University and worked at Westinghouse Learning Corp., owned a legislative news service and has had a legal practice.

Working on the commerce subcommittee shortly after being elected to the Iowa House, Small quickly learned a lesson in taking a reserved approach, and found value accepting the knowledge of others.

"Nothing ever happened (at first). We failed to bring consensus," Small said of the subcommittee. "It's not, 'Boom, here is the answer.' It takes a bunch of groups working together . there is an element of humility you learn that makes you a little more cautious."

At the national level, President Bush's posture during the early stages of the Iraq War and the infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech were other examples of a person getting "tripped up" by thinking he knows more than he does, Small said.

"At best, nothing happens," he said. "At worst, look at Iraq. Thousands of people have lost their lives unnecessarily. He was not only wrong about (weapons of mass destruction), he was wrong about their culture. It was just one assumption after the other."

People should try to tone down their hubris and try harder to work toward solutions, he said.

"No one knows a fraction of what they need to handle all the problems they encounter," he said. "They need to work together."

— Brian Morelli  

Believe in God.

Madge Thornton

  • Age: 87.
  • Born: Nov. 20, 1920, in Summerfield, La.
  • Moved to Iowa City: six years ago.
  • Family: Son Edgar III, daughters Madgetta and Jeannye.
  • Occupation: Retired teacher and librarian.
  • Greatest accomplishment: Becoming a Christian.

When Madge Thornton invites you into her Bickford Cottage apartment, her words of welcome are "Come on in to the house of the Lord."

That's because throughout her years of learning and living, it's all been done "through the life of Jesus," she said.

"I don't know how to explain it to people because it has to be a part of you," Thornton said. "It's a part of me."

She said she's trying to write about her life held together by her belief in God and Jesus.

Thanks to a gift from her mother, she's lived her life by Psalm 27.

Her mother gave her the psalm to read every day. Thornton remembers her mother saying that they were not "forsaking her" - referring to a line in the psalm about being forsaken by your father and mother, but being taken care of by the Lord. She is able to recite it from memory.

"We were created by God, so you have to believe in God," she said. "This is what has happened to our country. We don't believe in God enough. We get away from God and everything falls to pieces."

She knows people can't make others listen to God, but encourages others to think about what he has done.

"God made us and gave us the freedom to think," she said. "And we don't think the right things all the time."

Thornton said she became a teacher partially because of what she realized while growing up with 12 brothers and sisters.

"I had the mind to teach," she said. "We taught each other. That's what we did. We taught all our life."

When she taught in the classroom, her favorite years were those teaching second grade.

"By the time they're in second grade, they know how to write, they know words," she said. "They're so loving. You can just encourage them with what they know. It's so marvelous."

— Rachel Gallegos