WMU Christmas themed marching band.

All Life is Learning - December 2022

Director's Note and In this issue

Director's Note

Life is so precious! Holidays often remind us of the kindness and generosity of others. As I sit here writing this note, I am reflecting on all that OLLI at WMU means to me and to our OLLI membership. I cannot thank you enough for your membership, commitment to volunteering, and your help in keeping OLLI at WMU on solid ground because of your generous gifts. Don't forget that our Year-End appeal is going on now, so if you are able, please consider donating to your OLLI. Be on the lookout for a mailing from WMU's Advancement Office detailing how you can participate!

Also, thank you to the many volunteers who helped plan and host this year's Annual meeting and to everyone who attended both in-person and virtually. I believe we had a great turn-out! The feedback has been positive, our speaker (Dr. Janet Hahn) was excellent, and the music provided by the Liz Townsend quartet was beautiful to our listening ears.

To cap off my notes, I'd like to share some of the pictures from our OLLI courses and events this year. Remember – you helped to make this year special and a success. Enjoy these pictures as a reflection of what we have accomplished together this past year!

  • OLLI member with glasses and a scarf smiling for the camera.
  • Two lovely women posing for the camera at an OLLI event.
  • A gentleman in glasses and blue shirt smiling for the camera at an Olli Event.
  • OLLI member with sunglasses and a big smile for the camera.
  • An image of the reception floor with OLLI members socializing.
  • Two ladies at the check in table greeting arriving OLLI members.
  • OLLI members having a discussion with an OLLI official.
  • OLLI official talking one on one with an OLLI member.
  • OLLI members laughing and conversing.
  • Two ladies mid discussion during the OLLI event.
  • Gentleman writes something down as OLLI members enter the lecture hall.
  • A couple smiling for the camera at an OLLI event
  • Man in glasses smiling and waving at the camera.
  • Lady in red Jacket selecting some fruits from the refreshments table.
  • OLLI staff and members smiling for the camera.
  • Some OLLI ladies signing in at the event table.
  • Two ladies smiling for the camera at an OLLI event.
  • A couple smiling for the camera at the OLLI event.
  • OLLI Officials having a chat at the event reception.
  • A couple smiling for the camera at the event check in.
  • Lady with glasses, a beret, and red scarf at the event reception.
  • Band playing some light music for the OLLI event.
  • OLLI officials posing for the camera in the lecture hall.
  • OLLI members waiting for the talk in the lecture hall.
  • OLLI members lining up in their seats in the lecture hall.
  • Lovely lady smiling for the camera with a sense of surprise.
  • OLLI member smiling for the camera as she arrives to the lecture.
  • Two ladies smiling for the camera at an OLLI event.
  • Three ladies laughing and having a good time at the lecture.
  • Woman at the podium shrugging before the lecture gets rolling.
  • OLLI presenter talking from the podium with folded hands.
  • A slide from the OLLI Presentation on the overhead screen.
  • Woman speaking from the podium during the lecture.
  • Speaker for the event smiling for the camera in the lecture hall.
  • OLLI couple smile for the camera.
  • Ladies at the OLLI event representing the Humana table.
  • OLLI member speaks at the event.
  • OLLI members at the reception gathering for Taste of OLLI
  • Two OLLI staff at the event working from a check in table.
  • OLLI member in red shirt smiling during the reception.
  • OLLI members smiling during a presentation at the reception.
  • An OLLI staff member posing next to the reception cakes.
  • OLLI member at a table conversing with other OLLI members.
  • OLLI member at event reception, mid conversation.
  • Ladies mid conversation at the event reception.
  • OLLI instructor pointing to a slide image during the reception.
  • Man shows another member the image he captured on his camera.
  • Photographers at the event checking their images on the camera screens.
  • OLLI members acting out a sketch in one of the rooms at the event.
  • OLLI members acting out a sketch in one of the rooms at the event.
  • OLLI members acting out a sketch in one of the rooms at the event.
  • OLLI acting members posing for the camera at the event.
  • Man in red cap walking down the parking lot at an OLLI event.
  • OLLI member walking around a red car with grocery bags for donation.
  • OLLI members helping load donations into the back of a car.
  • Ministry with Community sign taped to the back of a vehicle
  • YWCA banner draped over half of a minivan at OLLI event.
  • 3 OLLI event workers smiling for the camera.
  • Housing Resources Inc. sign taped to an open hatch.
  • Gentleman handing over donation supplies to an OLLI official.



Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Ed.D.
Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at WMU


In this issue


Can you believe that the fall 2022 semester has ended? What great course offerings we had this semester! All instructors should have received a thank you letter and a notification that they are eligible for a free OLLI course. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with our OLLI members! 

Get ready for next semester! The full course catalog will be available online in mid-December and a course mailer will also be sent to member homes before the winter holidays. Course registration will begin on Wednesday, January 11th at 10:00 a.m.

Just a few reminders as we go into the 2023 winter/spring semester:

OLLI Cancellations, Withdrawals and Refunds – please refer to the OLLI catalog for our policies related to cancellations, withdrawals and refunds. We understand that from time-to-time, there are things that come up; however, please be reminded of the policies that are in place to fully support the operations of OLLI at WMU.

WMU Winter Closure – Western rarely closes or delays classes for winter weather conditions, so OLLI courses will always be held when the University is open. Closure notifications can be found via the WMU homepage, area and radio television stations or the WMU emergency information phone line at (269) 387-1001.


This is the season for giving and celebrating, and we’re proud to say that OLLI members have been joining in! Our generous members started the season of goodwill early with the OLLI Cares Fill-A-Trunk event on October 22. It was a huge success, bringing in donations for six local organizations that work to help change the lives of countless people in our community. One organization received so many items that they had to empty their car and come back for a second load! A heartfelt and huge thank you to all the members who donated! 


  Date: Wednesday, January 18       Time: 2 - 4 p.m.     
 Location: Fetzer Center

Here’s something to look forward to in the middle of winter: a chance to socialize, engage, enrich and give back! Join us at the Fetzer Center from 2 to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, January 18, for our January Thaw event. Catch up with old friends, engage with new members, meet some of the instructors for our excellent array of Winter/Spring Courses and give back to our community with a donation to the Kalamazoo Literacy Council. Their needs are great and include lined writing journals, pencils, erasers, clipboards, laptop computers, flash drives, tablets, notebooks and notepads. Plus, enjoy a thought-provoking conversation by our guest speaker and bring your favorite old reads for our Book Swap – a member favorite! Don’t forget to invite a friend or two who might be interested in becoming an OLLI Member! 

  • January 18 Wednesday, 2 p.m.

Membership & Marketing

OLLI’s in a Holiday Mood

This is the season for giving and celebrating – as proven by our dedicated OLLI members who helped make our OLLI Cares Fill-A-Trunk event on October 22 a huge success! 

In the spirit of sharing, remember that you, too, can give an OLLI membership as a gift. Giving the Gift of OLLI is available through our website or by contacting the office at (269) 387-4157. This is the perfect gift for your friends and family!

If you’d like to help get the word out about OLLI, call or email the office and let us know. The more, the merrier!


The Travel Committee wishes to thank all OLLI travelers who helped us energize and complete a 2022 “regeneration” of our travel adventures! We have one remaining trip in 2022; we’ll be heading to the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea on December 8 to see the world premiere of Jeff Daniel’s play “Pickleball.” This should be memorable indeed! This is our second excursion to the Purple Rose this season and OLLI travelers have always been supportive of this excellent theatre. Stay tuned for some new and exciting plays in the upcoming 2023 season next spring. 

We closed out this year with another chapter of unique and enlightening travel excursions. Our adventures included enjoying Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park” at the Tibbitts in Coldwater, discovering the Gordon Gallery at Grand Valley State University: Pew Campus to learn about Michigan artist, Mathias Alten, and touring the Frank Lloyd Wright architectural jewel known as the Meyer May House in Grand Rapids. We caught our breath just long enough to add a tour to the Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, renowned as the birthplace of the Ford Model T. According to their website, this historic preservation facility is recognized as one of the most significant automotive heritage sites in the world – and we agree! 

However, we absolutely could not leave Detroit without ducking into the Detroit Institute of Art to immerse ourselves in the long-awaited exhibit of Van Gogh’s 75 + works of art. This stellar exhibit was featured on the November 13th episode of the CBS Sunday Morning News show, and we are proud to say that OLLI Travel beat Jane Pauley to the punch! It was unbelievable! 

We are thrilled to keep presenting our OLLI travelers with exciting trips and are deeply thankful for our hardworking volunteer travel committee who devote many hours of their time and relentless research skills to make the magic happen! We are all looking forward to 2023 and more OLLI travel fun! Happy Holidays!

Wellness Moment

Secrets to Vitality Series

Introducing octogenarian Fred Decker. I have watched Fred and his wife Leslie work out and recreate at West Hills for nearly 20 years. I often see Fred performing exercises that many 20-year-olds I know could not do. One of his trademark moves is the hex-bar squat with 200 lbs. for repetitions, with perfect form. He can also be found bouncing a tennis ball off a wall to maintain his hand/eye coordination. Fred and I sat down so he could tell me more about the habits that he believes contribute to fostering his incredible vitality in his eighth decade.

As a three-sport athlete in high school, Fred had to stay in shape year-round. It was then that he began to appreciate the benefits of being fit, which inspired him to play collegiate baseball. Naturally, Fred had to stay in tip-top shape to perform as a collegiate-level baseball player, so whether or not to stay fit during college was never a consideration. 

After college, however, he began a career as an educator and suddenly found himself deconditioned. Three years later, Fred would change career paths and begin what would become a Hall of Fame coaching career. As a coach, Fred wanted to “lead by example,” and would often work out with the pitchers. Additionally, he had a group of colleagues, some legendary in their own right, that would meet up every day to run, play racquetball, or lift weights. “My job made it a lot easier to stay in shape, and then when I retired, I figured the best thing I could do for my grandkids is to be around as long as I can,” he says.

These days Fred does something physical every day. He walks or rides his bike daily, lifts weights two times per week, completes exercises for every muscle group, and likes to do cardio-vascular exercise prior to the weights. For his cardio, Fred walks a mile on the track and then adds 20 minutes on the stationary bike. “I really want to avoid injuries at this point,” Fred says, so listens to his body and tries to push the intensity – but not too far.  

Leslie and Fred Decker on
the West Hills fitness floor

When I asked him about nutrition and eating habits, Fred said, “I’m blessed with a wife that is very conscious of what we eat” (as many of us are). Fred and Leslie eat three meals per day and try not to snack in between meals. He starts each day with 20 oz. of water with some lemon and a pinch of pink Himalayan salt (we will have to ask Leslie about the pink salt). For breakfast, he will drink a protein shake with 30 grams of protein, plus a banana, and some mixed nuts. Usually, he will have a sandwich and coffee for lunch, but always an apple. Finally, they try to eat a light dinner.  

Fred and Leslie can be observed doing quite a bit of socializing while at West Hills, which also contributes to their health. “The health club membership is the best thing for retirees for many reasons but is the biggest part of what keeps me healthy from a physical, social, and mental standpoint,” says Fred. Serving on condominium boards also helps Fred stay sharp from a problem-solving standpoint and plays Wordle to keep his communication skills sharp. Fred and Leslie have a system for Wordle and often get the word correct in four words.

Although Fred had a coronary event two years ago, he was told by his doctor that he would have a faster recovery than average due to the physical conditioning he had incorporated into his lifestyle, particularly for those in their late 70’s to early 80’s. He was walking his neighborhood three days later and back at West Hills within weeks. Clearly, Fred will be around for his grandkids for MANY years to come!

Fred executes the trap bar squat with perfect form. His eyes are up at the bottom of the
move, which keeps his back straight, and not hunched, which protects his lumbar spine.


What is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute?

The program was initiated under the auspices of the WMU Emeriti Council and WMUx. OLLI offers intellectually lively and culturally appealing learning experiences. We accomplish this by focusing on intellectual stimulation, personal growth, social engagement and enrichment.  Read more


What do we do?

We offer short courses for one to four weeks. Sessions are usually two hours long. Travel programs are also a part of our offerings. There are no tests and no required homework, just exploring lots of interesting topics.

In the near future we will offer courses in different formats -- noon hour discussions, several sessions in one week, and more evening courses. OLLI courses and activities are developed and produced by its members with the support of the staff of WMUx.

We need your ideas for course topics and instructors. Let us know your suggestions. Call the OLLI office at (269) 387-4157 or send an email. The curriculum committee will review all suggestions.