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Retirees in retirement: Sharing your story (Nov. 2020)

For this issue, we asked Extension retirees for their updates during the pandemic and to offer a few words of advice.

Don Breneman, Extension photographer, has been teaching a photography class via Zoom. It started as an in-person class for members of his church, but it was converted to Zoom when the pandemic broke out. As a result, his class picked up new students from all over the country.

Stephan Carlson, Extension educator in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation, planted 200 pine seedlings at his cabin in Ely. Current words of wisdom are “go with the flow,” which come from a book he is reading, "Be Water, My Friend: the Teachings of Bruce Lee,” written by Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee.

Chuck Casey, Extension dean and director emeritus, and his wife Barbara Muesing have adapted to COVID-19 by living a routine that includes walking every week; Chuck clocks at least 10,000 steps a day and Barbara strives for 5 miles a day. They are grateful for the blessings of their many associations with the University of Minnesota. Barbara served Extension in Steele and Stearns County, and also as district director for the northwest district in the early 1980s. Chuck served the University as a regent, Extension dean, and Crookston campus chancellor. They enjoy winter months in Arizona, where they have hosted Extension and Crookston campus gatherings.

Julia Gladhill says retirement is wonderful, although she misses her co-workers. Julia performed in a radio play on Oct. 31, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” produced by the Lyric Center for the Arts in Virginia, Minnesota.

JoAnn Hardy was the human resources manager for the Extension dean’s office and retired in 2011. She kept busy gardening all summer and signed up for Literacy Tutoring for Americorps again this school year. Learning to tutor on a virtual platform presents challenges, yet she is excited to be working with first- through fourth-grade scholars in the inner city. "My notable activity is to have survived this summer of extreme unrest,” she says. “Watching my community get burned down was devastating.”

Glenice Johnson has been sewing 300 masks to give away locally, grocery shopping for elderly shut-ins, delivering Meals on Wheels and supervising grandchildren's distance learning in her home. Glenice was a regional Extension educator in personal family finance serving the northwest area and Pennington County. Sanford Medical system wrote an article featuring her leadership in raising funds for new equipment in the Infusion Center that she learned about and used during a successful recovery from uterine cancer.

Karen Lilley, whose last of many roles was Extension website manager, up-cycled cotton sheets and shirts into medical masks to donate to immigrants through the International Institute of Minnesota, and neighbors through Little Free Library. She was an enumerator with the U.S. Census, which turned out to be more challenging than expected, with COVID-19 affecting living situations. She became a “detective,” trying to find out the addresses on her case lists. Karen also wrote an article for the Park Bugle: Cheap clothes have human, environmental costs. Her next project is to digitize 70 years of her mother’s family scrapbooks onto a flash drive for family and siblings.

Karen Shirer, who retired as associate dean for the Center for Family Development, reports that she is working part time, pursuing old and new hobbies, reading whenever she can, and setting up a winter home in Arizona.

Liz Templin, community economics educator, Center for Community Vitality, served in Aitkin, Stearns, Washington and Isanti counties, and the Andover Regional Center. Liz organized two virtual reunions: the 45th year reunion of the 1974-75 State 4-H Ambassadors and the 31st year reunion of Fellows III group of Kellogg Fellowship in International Development. She noted that her adjustments to COVID-19 seemed minor when she learned through a recent Fellows III Zoom sessions that a participant from Bolivia had no Zoom connection that day, a woman from Costa Rica came on late because they were having an earthquake, and a man from California was informed that he was being evacuated to his fourth site due to the fires. Current words of wisdom: “Wear a mask.”

If you have news or a story to share with fellow Extension retirees, please share it by completing this Google Form. A new Retiree News editor will be named soon, and you can always email our central Retiree News email account at

We hope to hear from many of you. Do not be shy — tell us about your activities and successes!

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