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Crowd Gathered to Celebrate OLLI Founders’ Day in York

Dr. Karl Pillemer and Jim McClure
Dr. Karl Pillemer, left, and Jim McClure, editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, check out some of the information that was tweeted to readers of the local newspaper during the Founders' Day event at Penn State York.
5/24/2012 —

More than 160 people attended the first Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) Founders’ Day at Penn State York on May 17 featuring Dr. Karl Pillemer, well-known author of “30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.” Dr. Pillemer is a professor of gerontology in medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College and Human Development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University. He shared his extensive experience as a gerontologist and the relationships he developed with the mature American population as part of his presentation at the OLLI Founders’ Day event.

The Legacy Project that began in 2004 gave Dr. Pillemer the opportunity to collect responses from America’s elders to the question, “What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?” People from across the country in their 70s and beyond shared their wisdom for living.

Americans as old as age 108 shared their advice from living life without regrets and tips on how to age fearlessly and well, to truly living life to the fullest because it is short. Lessons in Dr. Pillemer’s book include from how to be happy on a day-to-day basis, the secrets to a successful marriage, tips on raising children, ways to have a fulfilling career, and strategies for dealing with illness and loss. Dr. Pillemer wrote his book based on this project and it was named to the “Best Self-Help Books of 2011” by Library Journal.

Based on Dr. Pillemer’s work, the OLLI group thought he would be the best speaker for their first Founders’ Day event which honors the work of OLLI founders Charmaine Kissinger, Olive Padden, and the late Gussie Petron, three women who were bored and ready to make more of their retirement. Their mantra of “curiosity never retires” and their thirst for knowledge and mental stimulation, led them to gather volunteers and OLLI was born in August 2007 with the first courses offered in April 2008. The group has grown from a handful of people to more than 275 members. The OLLI group hopes the Founders’ Day Lecture will become an annual event.

OLLI is a nonprofit, volunteer driven organization established to enrich the lives of mature adults living in York County by providing a variety of educational and social enrichment activities. OLLI at Penn State York is one of more than 100 lifelong learning institutes across the nation that is supported by a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation. The grant was made available locally though Penn State at University Park which also has an OLLI program.

To cover costs, OLLI has a $50 yearly membership fee that covers two semesters and a $20 fee for each six-week course taken. Shorter courses are offered at a lower rate. Call 717- 771-4015 (or e-mail olli@yk.psu.edu) to receive registration and activity information. Visit their website at for more information. OLLI at Penn State York will hold its annual meeting on Wednesday, May 30 at noon in the conference center of the Main Classroom Building at the campus.

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