aug. 20 lifelong learners

August 17, 2000

Many people opt for classes in retirement, after nest empties

By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

Many adults see a golden opportunity for learning when their children are grown or their working years come to a close.

"The more you learn, the more you want to learn," said Richard Long, 78, of Hagerstown.

Long retired about 10 years ago from his business, Long's Business Equipment in Hagerstown, and retired three years ago from his position as a judge for Washington County Orphans Court.

Instead of spending his time resting in an easy chair - though he does that occasionally - he takes two classes a semester through Hagerstown Community College's Institute for Learning in Retirement. He's taken some opera classes and a basic computer class, which prompted him to buy a computer three months ago.

Long also traveled to Bethlehem, Pa., to learn about the Moravian church because his sister joined one less than a year ago.


The few hours a week the classes require don't interfere with his other responsibilities, including assisting those trying to start businesses and serving on the board for Children's Village.

"It's pretty much for fun," Long said of the classes.

Exploring the unknown

Bob Regenold, 73, of Hagerstown, prefers shorter classes and day trips so he can have time for church activities and family life.

The opera appreciation classes he took exposed him to a whole new world.

"You know the inner workings of it. You start to appreciate the music more," said Regenold, who was associate pastor for 27 years at First Christian Church in Hagerstown. "I guess I got bitten by the bug. I've already signed up for two in the fall."

Regenold also has gone on educational trips, including visiting aqueducts along the C&O Canal and National Cryptologic Museum in Howard County, near Fort Meade.

In June, Regenold went on a 16-day tour of Europe, including Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, England and Belgium.

"I had a fantastic time," Regenold said.

The age of computers

Louise Starr has come a long way since she learned how to access recipes on a computer at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa.

Now she's interested in making greeting cards and labels.

"Maybe someday, I might even get a job in it," Starr, 74, of Mercersburg, Pa., said of the computer field.

Starr is one of many people who has learned about computers from volunteer Jim Scarfo at Tuscarora Senior Activity Center in Mercersburg.

Ruth DeLauder, 76, of Mercersburg, has explored horticulture and maps of antiquity on the computer and is learning how to work with graphics. She's also sending e-mail to family.

"It's something new. I never thought I'd be capable of learning the computer," said DeLauder, who never worked on a keyboard before being taught by Scarfo.

Irene Ramey, 78, of Mercersburg, is learning Excel and money-management techniques thanks to Scarfo, and likes to send e-mail to her children in Virginia and Florida.

"If you lose your curiosity, you get pretty dull," Ramey said. She said the more people learn about things that interest them, the happier they are.

Mary Ella Hawbaker has wanted to learn how to play piano since she was a child, but her family couldn't afford lessons. Now she's getting them free at the senior center.

"This age is good for learning," said Hawbaker, 61, of Mercersburg.

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