They rebelled against the Vietnam War, institutionalized racism, and sexism, and now they’re rebelling against old age. Always the innovators, baby boomers are getting old like no generation before – from extreme sports to extreme travel, nothing is beyond them. 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day. We found and profiled some of the most fascinating and inspiring “senior citizens” in Boulder County.
Head out on the highway – Glenn and Donetta Lausch, ages 72, 65
Glenn and Donetta Lausch have been skydiving and motorcycling their way into some truly golden years. Some might say the couple are looking for cheap thrills, but that’s not who they are. They only have one mission with these hobbies: to build memorable experiences.
“A full life demands you do things to make yourself vulnerable,” Glenn says. “You can’t always be in charge.”
Upon graduating from college in 1968, just as the Vietnam War was coming to a head, Glenn decided to hit the open road with his best friend, Stan. The two man biker crew ended up in Denver where they thought jobs would be easy to find, but that wasn’t the case.
“We ended up just hanging out for six weeks because we couldn’t get jobs, seeing as we were draft eligible,” Glenn says. “So we joined the army at a recruiting station on Colfax Avenue and they convinced us to go into Officer Candidate School.”
Once enlisted, the longtime friends decided to become paratroopers and, to pass their training, they each had to do five jumps out of various helicopters and airplanes. Falling from 12,000 ft. eventually became a pastime, to say the least.
“You’re scared to death, but once you do it, you think you’re indestructible,” Glenn says, with a chuckle. “Then you start doing it for fun. We would take pictures on the way down or bump into each other with our chutes.”
That’s what led to Glenn’s love of skydiving. One of his first dates with Donetta involved getting a group of coworkers and friends together for one big jump. Glenn was not only surprised that so many people wanted to do it, but that Donetta didn’t’ oppose.
“She’s probably just the opposite of what I am: very quiet, shy and reserved. But they say opposites attract,” Glenn says. “I found out that she doesn’t have a fear of anything. From jumping out of an airplane, to riding a motorcycle or traveling. She just looks different than she is.”
Glenn, 72, met Donetta, 65, at Prestonwood Baptist Church In Plano, Texas during a singles mixer. Just like Donetta, Glenn was divorced and looking for someone new to go on adventures with.
“Our eyes didn’t meet across a crowded room, but it was meant to be, and both of us came from relationships that we were happy to be out of,” Glenn recalls.
In 2006, they got married and left Texas behind for Westminster, Colorado to enjoy some better weather and see Glenn’s relatives. Although they were both collecting a pension by that time, neither was content with sitting around. That’s why they started riding together.
Glenn is no stranger to the road. After he got back from Vietnam, where he served as a rifle platoon leader in the 1st Infantry Division, he devoted his time to getting a new cycle. His buddy Stan did the same.
“We’d get together on our vacations and ride down the East Coast,” Glenn recalls. “We went around Lake Superior, saw the Northern Lights and even went down to Florida.”
Seeing Stan’s wife doesn’t let him ride anymore, Donetta has become Glenn’s new partner. The couple now has a three-wheeled trike, which helps Donetta feel safe and comfortable on the long rides.
“Honestly, it’s one of the most comfortable seats I’ve ever ridden on,” Donetta said. “I could fall asleep while we ride, but then I’d miss out on all the fun.”
This June, Glenn and Donetta will be zooming through Utah’s five national parks. The trip will mark their sixth ride together after nearly 8 years of marriage and they have no plans of hitting the brakes on their travels.
“If people that retire want to catch their breath and go sit down in a rocking chair, they won’t last two years,” Glenn says. “My theory is: Just keep moving. As my dad said, ‘It’s harder to hit a moving target.’”
From coins to closing – Stephen Tebo, age 71
Stephen Tebo has a special talent for turning cents into dollars. Since the early 1950s, the 71-year-old business master has been buying and selling rare coins, and his passion for doing so has helped him become one of BoCo’s leading commercial real estate developers.
“My sister’s boyfriend gave me a penny book and I started putting pennies in it,” Tebo says, recalling how he got into coins. “There would be holes in the book that I couldn’t fill and I’m very, very competitive, so I would go out and buy, barter or trade for them.”
Once Tebo started learning more about the values of certain coins, he began to buy and sell them. Eventually he was reaping such a profit from his pastime that he decided to turn it into a part-time business. In 1962, during his sophomore year at Fort Hays State University in Kansas,
“I started learning a little bit more about the values and rarities and how you grade them, Tebo recalls. “I’ve got a pretty good mind for numbers and, in the coin business, you literally have to have hundred and thousands of prices in your mind because there are thousands of coins and each one can have 20-30 grades. That’s where math has helped me.”
Tebo’s Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics eventually led him to the Missouri University of Science and Technology, where he gained a Master’s Degree in computer science. Instead of becoming an assistant professor, like some of his peers, he got back into where the money was at.
“Working in the coin business, I was making more than part-time professors were,” Tebo explains. “I was offered teaching positions, but I said, ‘No, I can’t afford to take a decrease in salary.’ Plus, I was doing something I absolutely love.”
In 1968, Tebo, along with his wife and kids, followed a buddy out to Boulder, Colorado and, once there, he opened up Tebo Coin. Through plenty of hardwork and a little business savvy, he also ended up starting his own store fixtures company. When other shops needed quality showcases, they would go to Tebo.
With so many displays and coins piling up, Tebo began running out of space to work. In 1972, he decided to build Tebo Square, a 10,000-square-foot complex in the heart of central Boulder. He planned to allocate 4,000 square feet to his respective businesses and lease out the rest. In doing so, Tebo realized the potential behind commercial property and, by 1978, he had sold his other ventures to focus solely on real estate. Today, Tebo owns more than 200 commercial properties.
“It’s the old adage that the three most important things in real estate are location, location, location,” Tebo says of his success. “I talk about grading certain levels of every coin and there’s certain levels to every building: Dynamite location, accessibility, visibility and parking. That’s what we look for.”
Because of his work, some might be quick to judge Tebo as a greedy developer, but he’s one of BoCo’s leading philanthropists.
“Development is a necessary evil,” Tebo notes. “You either grow and prosper or wilt away and die. If you look at a lot of the stores we own, like REI or Bed, Bath & Beyond, it’s good for the community. If we didn’t have those stores, all those sales tax dollars would go toward Louisville, Lafayette, Superior, Broomfield or Longmont.”
With that in mind, Tebo won’t be retiring anytime soon. Not only does he love his job, but he wants to continue to help Boulder thrive in the coming years and plans to contribute to more worthwhile causes. This year, for instance, Tebo organized the “Holes of Hope” charity golf tournament, which benefitted the state-of-the-art cancer center that he is building in coordination with the Foothills Medical Campus.
On the battlefield – Sara Sheldon, age 81
Sara Sheldon’s foremost passion used to lie in art history, until she started studying the art of war.
In 1991, the now 81-year-old Sheldon was 57. She was writing a book about a Chinese modernist painter and traveling across China when she made a call home and got some somewhat disturbing news. Her son Edward Paul Olson decided to heed his country’s call and join the Marine Corps halfway through his sophomore year at CU Boulder.
“I was just so shocked,” Sheldon remembers. “I said, ‘Are you sure about this?’ and he said, ‘yeah mom, this is what I want to do.’”
To show her support, Sheldon began researching all aspects of the Marines, including their terminology and training. Olsen was stationed as a private in the 1st battalion, 4th Marines at Camp Pendleton, California throughout the Gulf War and spent time on many active duty ships in the Middle East, Sheldon recalls. In 1995, he retired.
“Mainly, he felt that he needed more direction in his life,” Sheldon says. “He had all the smarts but none of the confidence, so the Marine Corps has helped him immensely.”
Although Olsen had returned home, Sheldon’s interest in the Corps didn’t fade. Even during wartime, she knew that signing up for the Marines must have been helping others, including women.
In 2005, Sheldon was invited by Marine Colonel Jenny Holbert, the press agent for Anbar Provence, Iraq, to interview women Marines. Once there, she spent a month talking to the female fighters of Camp Fallujah and Camp Taqqadum.
“The first question I always asked was, ‘Why the hell would you want to be a woman Marine?’” Sheldon muses. “They always said, ‘Because I wanted the biggest challenge there is.’ It was amazing how free and open they were because they were so proud to be a woman in the Corps.”
Sheldon became so invested in these women that even sporadic rocket and shelling attacks couldn’t faze her.
“As a visitor, I was in awe of the danger, but unafraid,” Sheldon explains. “There is the underlying understanding that everyone is prepared for anything because all of Iraq was a combat zone. The enemy does not wear uniforms, so the war is everywhere.”
The stories that Sheldon gathered eventually became a part of her 2007 book, “The Few. The Proud. Women Marines in Harm’s Way.” With it, Sheldon wanted to give Americans a glimpse of what it’s like to be a woman in the military and shed light on why service can be so important.
“None of us have any idea what the military is like,” Sheldon explains. “We don’t interact with (veterans), so it’s hard for us to even guess what they went through. That’s why I asked these women questions and began to realize what a serious thing the military is.”
Sheldon is now involved with a non-profit outreach organization called Veterans Speak. It aims to close this gap between civilians and armed service members by facilitating ways for veterans to tell their stories. Find out more about it at www.VeteransSpeakCo.org.
Pilates around the world – Pat Guyton, age 65
For Pat Guyton, pilates isn’t just an exercise system, it’s a means of existence. Not only have pilates workouts kept her looking young and exceptionally fit, but she teaches them across the world. Now, at 65 years old, Guyton has been dedicating her time to helping other seniors using pilates.
“The ‘boomers’ changed normative consensus,” Guyton says. “We broke the rules for sexual morals, cultural sensitivity, diversity, feminism and attitudes toward health. Compared to their parents and grandparents, the seniors of today are aware that exercise is a part of a healthy life, but the challenge is how to enjoy every day with vitality.”
Because life expectancy has increased in the developed world, Guyton believes that the older generation must adapt to aging process and increased retirement years. One of Guyton’s favorite places to teach is Japan because the population is growing older but, because the Japanese people have a life expectancy of at least 80 years, she says there is a need to provide an opportunity for elders to exercise.
Before the early 1980s, though, no one in Japan, or BoCo, for that matter, really knew the value of pilates. In fact, Guyton hilariously recalls that people used to phone her old studio and ask if it was a facility for teaching pilots.
Created in 1927 by German-American fitness instructor, Joseph Pilates, the system uses various controlled movement exercises (like leg lifts) and careful instruction to achieve maximum fitness results, including increased flexibility and strength.
When pilates was introduced to Guyton in 1984, she was immediately drawn to it. As a former dancer, Guyton was looking for a better way to teach fellow athletes how to move properly. At the same time, Guyton was able to motivate herself toward better physical and mental health using the program.
“In a moment of reflection, I had an inspirational thought,” Guyton says. “I decided that I would like to add my energy and talent to help Pilates become available to everyone.”
After working at the Boulder Osteopathic Center as a registered physical medicine assistant for nearly a decade, Guyton fulfilled her dream and opened Pat Guyton Studios in 2003. Since then, she has traveled across Europe and Asia promoting pilates.
Teaching in Singapore one year, Guyton started getting sick. She began feeling excruciating pains in her stomach, but chalked it up to food poisoning. It wasn’t until Guyton got back home to Boulder and had a CT scan that she was told the news.
“My appendix had been leaking,” Guyton explains. “My health had always been excellent, I was strong and active, but I was septic and my brain was no longer able to discern that I had been ill for a long time. There was a 50 percent chance that I would make it through surgery.”
Guyton did make it through her first surgery, but suffered a second one for abscess in her abdomen and a third due to a hernia caused by previous operations. She credits her recovery to the power of pilates.
In 2016, Guyton is looking forward to returning to Japan to host her own trademarked Pilates Patricia Conservatory, a comprehensive teacher-training program for Japanese students. She also has trips planned to Spain and Guatemala, where she will present alongside fellow pilates instructors and host a few workshops.
“Joe Pilates believed that if everyone was doing his work, there would be a more peaceful world,” Guyton concludes, with a chuckle. “So it’s gratifying to travel and help it grow.”
Social change through art – Bonnie Ballantyne, age 75
At age 75, Boulder resident Bonnie Ballantyne never imagined she would own a condo in the Yucatan Peninsula. She never thought she would write a children’s book after retiring. Most of all, she never thought her son Adam Stetson would leave this earth before her.
A lifelong community activist, Stetson died of a heart attack at age 49 in Telluride, Colorado four years ago. As an avid Bluegrass fan, he looked for ways to better our communities through musical and cultural education.
“He felt strongly about many things and, therefore, influenced many people,” Ballantyne says. “There were hundreds of people who spoke well of him, so I became a part of that group of his friends, who sustained me through a very tough time.”
One of Ballantyne’s new acquaintances was artist Elizabeth McClellan.
“She said, ‘Oh, Adam always wanted me to do a book,’ and I said, ‘Yes, he’s always wanted me to do one, too,’ so we agreed to make one together,” Ballantyne recalls. To honor her son’s activism, Ballantyne worked with McClellan on “Crocodile Goes Out,” a multi-language children’s book about Mayan culture.
During her 50-year career in advertising and marketing, Ballantyne had written many ads, business plans and reports but had never gotten around to making a book. At the same time, she’d been fascinated by the Mayans ever since reading about them in the 1980s. That’s why she and her husband decided to buy property in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which is home to many Maya. Once there, Ballantyne began learning more about Mayan astrology.
“The Maya used many calendars, each for a unique purpose,” Ballantyne explains. “The Tzolkin is a 260 day sacred calendar still used among the millions of Maya who live in Mexico and Central America to harmonize human activities with the dynamic cycles of the Maya universe. In the Maya world, every day has it’s own distinct energy, reflecting the specific ‘day lord’ who rules that day.”
These “day lords” embody specific animals like the jaguar, crocodile, snake or deer, as well as certain elements like the wind, the night or the stars. And they are represented by specific language symbols known as “glyphs.”
To remember all these Mayan day lords, Ballantyne came up with a nifty mnemonic rhyme that turned into the main story of “Crocodile Goes Out.” Written in Spanish, English and Mayan glyphs, the book is an effort to not only teach kids about Mayan culture, but help preserve the Mayan language.
“In a world where non-written indigenous languages are disappearing rapidly, this book offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of the Maya,” writes Dr. Majorie Meyers, the principal of Arlington, Virginia’s bilingual Key School. “Delightful illustrations, through the use of Mayan glyphs, entice the reader to learn more about this fascinating world.”
In December, Ballantyne donated 10 copies of “Crocodile Goes Out” to a Playa del Carmen educational program called Keeping Kids in School (KKIS). Part of its education initiative is to give every student, including Mayan ones, a better understanding of the Maya culture. Just like her son, Ballantyne is proud to use art to create such social change.
More Amazing Seniors
Carle Churgin, age 67
As the owner of her own leadership development company, Chain Reaction Partners, Carle Churgin knows that teamwork is important. Her main strengths lie in connection and adaptability, she says, explaining that, “Leadership development programs are important because it is no longer possible to solve every problem by oneself.” This understanding is what makes Churgin perfect for the stage. Seven years ago, she became a member of Lafayette performance group the Broadway Boomers and has been spending her time singing and tap dancing among many talented friends. “There is so much support for each other; through our successes as well as challenges,” Churgin mentions. “Every week, as we practice, every member of the group listens intensely and applauds loudly, no matter how well you perform. It creates the incentive to keep going, knowing that by opening night you will be awesome.” Next year, the Broadway Boomers are focusing on 1950s musicals and Churgin is looking forward to singing a tune from Mervyn Leroy’s hit, “Gypsy.”
Gary Sobel, age 76
In 2008, Gary Sobel was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, a crippling nervous disorder that affects a person’s ability to walk, talk and even smell. Instead of waiting for the illness to do its worst, he did some research and came up with a series of specific exercises to relive his own symptoms. Feeling better, he started teaching these exercises at the Boulder YMCA and his students began noticing an immediate improvement in their condition. “Most of the exercises retrain the brain to make our movements more automatic,” the 76-year-old instructor explains. Although it started with just six participants, Sobel’s newly trademarked Parkinson’s Fitness Foundations class is now being taught in 26 cities across 9 states and is helping more than 800 people fight Parkinson’s. “Words cannot describe the feeling you get when you help someone restore a lost function,” Sobel concludes.
Mary Ann Briggs, age 65
A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Mary Ann Briggs really knows water. But after teaching health and physical education for 32 years, she also understands fitness. In 2005, Briggs retired from Boulder’s Fairview High School and immediately knew she had more to teach. “Retirement is a misnomer,” she says. “It should be considered a commencement of sorts. You have the opportunity to be creative and find new ways to contribute to the world.” With that sentiment in mind, she’s been using her free time to create two trademarked water fitness workshops called AquaFLEX and tAUQAta. She’ll be presenting these courses at the 2016 FitnessFest in Tempe, Arizona. The weekend-long conference allows fitness professionals from all over the world to gain continuing education credits in their respective fields. “I’ve always loved being active and helping others live a healthy lifestyle. For me, the question should be ‘Why wouldn’t you lead a healthy lifestyle?’”
Janet Thompson, age 65
Four years ago, Janet Thompson stared the Thompson-Daviau Realty group with her daughter, Kirsty Daviau, Although Thompson is old enough to retire, she didn’t want her real estate wisdom to go to waste. Her passion for the business dates back to 1971, when she purchased her first townhouse while living in England. “I thought it would be a better option than paying rent and only one mortgage company in the country would lend to a single lady,” she explains, with a laugh. Since 2014, Thompson has received numerous accolades for her work, including Yellow Scene’s “2015 Realtor of the Year” award. “I can’t imagine not working,” Thompson says. “Every day is an adventure and what I like the best is assisting people to find homes they will be happy to live in for many years.”
Jim Kinsinger, age 71
Jim Kinsinger has always enjoyed riding his bike, but it wasn’t until he moved to Boulder that he began to take cycling seriously. After participating in multi-day fundraiser rides, he was talked into competitive racing by a group of older bikers and, in 1996, he joined the Colorado Bicycle Racing Association for Seniors (COBRAS). Later, he joined the Boulder Masters Cycling Team. “I enjoy competing, as well as the camaraderie of my teammates,” Kinsinger says, emphasizing that winning is an ultimate thrill. Despite breaking his collarbone and hand during an accident last year, the 71-year-old cyclist went on to win Colorado’s State Championship Criterium event, as well as two national track championships.
Leland and Doris Connell, ages 89, 88
More than 70 years ago, Leland Connell met his future wife Doris on a blind date. Although Lee was paired with Doris’ best friend, he was so taken with Doris that he decided to ask her out a few days later and the rest is history. After farming in Iowa for a while, the couple wound up in Texas before finally landing in Colorado to be near Lee’s family. They now reside in the Broomfield Senior Apartments and, when not planting flower beds or golfing, they volunteer two days a week at the Broomfield Food Pantry preparing free hot meals for the less fortunate. “We have the satisfaction of helping others and it makes us feel good,” Lee says.
Florence Broudy, Donna Gisle and Brenda Cook, ages 73, 72, 74
Florence Broudy, Donna Gisle and Brenda Cook love horses, but they also pride themselves on helping others. As volunteers at the Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center — which gives valuable horse therapy to people with disabilities — the trio of so-called “Barn Goddesses” muck stalls, supervise therapy sessions and tend to various steed. Brody, 73, began volunteering in 1996 because of her experience in social work and love of horses, while Gisle, 72, started helping out nearly 23 years ago just because she respected the center’s mission. Cook, 74, was actually afraid of horses when she first started pitching in around 2006 but she quickly overcame her fears and was added to the center’s very own training team. In 2016, the trio will collectively help the organization continue to thrive through fundraising and more rewarding hard work.
Charlie Meredith, 83
“Hardcore cyclist” might be an understatement when it comes to Charlie Meredith. Since his retirement at the tender age of 57 in 1990, Charlie has biked more than 147,000 miles (85,000 of which belong to his wife Barbe, who pedaled behind him in tandem). To celebrate his 83rd birthday this year, he peddled from Boulder to Fort Collins, then went east to Loveland before heading back home. Meredith completed the 100-mile trip in 6-minute-and-40-second “saddle time,” which means he was traveling at a steady rate of 15 mph (wow). In 2013, Charlie had a hip replacement and asked the doctor to put in a “heavy duty” one because he wasn’t going to quit riding anytime soon.
Jerry Schillinger, 71
In 1959, just as rock ’n’ roll started to sweep the nation, Jerry Schillinger decided to pick up the guitar. Flash forward to 1963: Schillinger has just joined Denver rock band, The Roadrunners. That year, the group was hired to cut a surf-tinged promo album for the 1964 Ford Mustang and, a few months later, they opened for Chuck Berry and Peter & Gordon at Red Rocks. After the show, the group’s befittingly titled single, “Road Runnah,” grooved to the top of local charts. Schillinger gave up his rock lifestyle once he was drafted into Vietnam, but he never stopped playing music. Today, at age 71, he still teaches guitar lessons and performs songs at various memory care clinics around the metro area.