Each month we like to have an in-depth interview with some MARIELDER'S members. It's fun to learn about the accomplishments and interests of each member, and the many paths they have followed over the years! Introducing this month's highlighted members:

Ralph Blasi

     Ralph was born in Pittston, Pa. the youngest of three.  He grew up in the San Francisco area; his family moved there when he was age one.  After high school, he joined the Air Force and was stationed in Okinawa during the Viet Nam war.  He was a medical corpsman and worked in the emergency room for 18 months.  In April, 1967 he met an Air Force nurse named Pat, and was quickly smitten as they were married 6 months later.  However, they were off to an unusual start to married life as Ralph came back to the US after 10 days, and Pat had to stay in Okinawa until April, 1968 in order to finish her tour of duty.
     Ralph and Pat lived in San Francisco after their active military service ended and their son, Michael, was born in 1970.  Pat was from Cincinnati and that same year they moved to College Hill and Ralph started working as a technician at Christ Hospital in the dialysis unit.  In 1976 their daughter, Andrea, was born.  While continuing to work at Christ, Ralph graduated in 1984 from Miami Univ with a degree in Nursing, and in 1990 he joined the Army Reserves as a nurse and served for 22 years.  In 1994 he earned his baccalaureate degree and in 1998 was made Director of the dialysis unit.  In 2001 he transferred to the VA Hospital as a vascular access coordinator until he retired in 2013.  
     Now that they had some free time, Ralph and Pat could do some traveling.  They have been to Europe on several occasions, made frequent trips to San Francisco, and have taken cruises to Alaska, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean.  Gardening is a favorite hobby.  Ralph became involved with MariElders when he decided to become a volunteer driver; he has been on the Board for about a year, and is working to develop the Men’s Book Club.  He also works 25 hours a week as a caregiver for an elderly gentleman.  Ralph and Pat have lived in Mariemont since 1985.  They have 3 grandsons, who live in the area, and they enjoy seeing them often.                                                                             Written by Carol Olberding

Elaine Cook (April 2020)

     Born in NYC in 1946, Elaine was an only child and grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens. Elaine earned a Bachelor of Science degree from City College of NY and was a psychology major. After college, Elaine worked in NY in Market Research. She met Robert Cook, who worked for P&G in NY, and they were married in 1974 and moved to Cincinnati. After the move, Elaine was hired by Kenner Toys and was the 1st female brand manager on Easy Bake Oven and Baby Aleve. Elaine and Bob moved to Overland Park, KS. where daughter, Robin, was born in 1976. They were soon back in Cincinnati and son, Jeff, was born in 1978. Elaine was a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. During her “mom” years, she volunteered at Wilson School, started & ran My Ideas Publishing Co for student stories, was active in PTA, and president at Turpin High School for 2 years. Then in 1991, Elaine decided to go back to work and was employed as a Questionnaire Designer, and then from 1993- 2001 was a retirement Specialist for Fidelity Investments. Truly a world traveler, Elaine can proudly say that she has been to every continent except Antarctica. When she was 16, she toured Wales with her dad and the United Nations Singers (Dad was the director). Some of her favorite places are: Botswana and seeing the animals in their own habitat, Egypt, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall, and the Galapagos Islands. Elaine loves to read, especially historical fiction, she is in a book club and reads a lot of non-fiction. For 10 years, she read the paper for Radio Reading at Cincinnati Assoc for the Blind. Many of you may know Elaine from her 20 years as an AARP Tax Aide. Elaine and Bob have 2 grandchildren who live in Rockville, MD. Some of you may remember Elaine’s mom, Saimi Read. Saimi moved to Mariemont in 2004 and joined MariElders. Elaine and her mom used to go to the Mariemont Players with MariElders. Saimi passed away in 2018. Elaine plays MahJongg at the Center, she enjoys the outings, such as the mural tour and the Downton Abbey movie. Mostly, she says she loves being with the people who are wonderful.

Written by Carol Olberding

Margery Mattox (April 2020)

     Margery began her life on the East Side of Cincinnati, attended high school on the West Side, and as an adult lived downtown and now lives in Mariemont. As a freshman co-op student at the University of Cincinnati, she was assigned to a travel agency. This experience gave her a lifelong travel bug. More on that later. Her father invested her periodic earnings in the stock market which influenced her career as a broker. Margery attended Xavier University for her MBA. She had to do that in “night” school because women were not allowed to attend Xavier’s day school then. This was at a time when women brokers were few and far between. Margery searched for a firm willing to hire a woman. This was accomplished through extensive networking. After a three month training program in New York City, Margery returned to Cincinnati as a fully qualified stock broker, one of the first woman brokers in Cincinnati. She was also a certified financial planner and later founded her own financial planning and investment advisory firm. She was President of the Certified Financial Planning Association, The Business and Professional Women’s Organization and a Sales and Marketing Organization. Margery designed and taught financial literacy programs at UC, XU and the Union Institute. She has written numerous articles for business magazines. Back to the travel bug. Travel has been a great joy for Margery throughout her life. Early on, she and a group of friends bought an airplane which took them on trips far and wide eventually morphing into Travel-A-Go-Go. She has been to the Middle East, China, the British Isles, Tibet and France. Turkey was one of her favorites. Most recently, she enjoyed a trip to Italy. Margery joined MariElders for the Ted Talks and enjoys the active experiences like kayaking and iFly. She has participated in the entertainment trips, Great Decisions and World Religions. Bridge is on the wish list.             

Written by Nancy Powell

Betty Day (March 2020)

     Betty is from Williamsburg, Ky and she attended Cumberland College. Her first husband, Donnie, was in the Air Force and they changed bases 4 times; the longest was for 3 years in the Philippines. They had 2 children, Karen and Don. Donnie died in 1965 in a car accident in Glasgow, Mt. where they were stationed at the time. The children were 4 and 5 years old. Betty then moved to Norwood to be near family. She took business and secretarial courses at UC and worked at several places including: the city of Norwood in the auditor’s office, US Shoe, Shillito’s, Internal Revenue and the EPA.
     Betty remarried in 1974 to Henry. He was employed at General Motors and had 2 children, Gail and Ginny; their families blended together well. They moved to a 108 acre farm in Brooksville, Ky. where they had Black Angus cows, horses, chickens, and ducks. Betty took a Nurse Aid course at Rowan County Tech and worked for 10 years at Rural Home Health. Betty says that of all her jobs, this was the one that she enjoyed the most and she found it very rewarding. In 1990 Betty got involved with the YMCA in Maysville, Ky. She was a water aerobics instructor for 15 years and a Silver Sneakers ROM instructor for 4 years.
     Henry passed away in 2017 after battling Alzheimer’s for several years. Betty sold the farm in October, 2018 and moved to Newtown since her family lives in the Cincinnati area. She has 7 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.  Betty’s daughter, Ginny, who lived in Mariemont, told her about MariElders. Betty joined in February, 2019 and says that she is blessed to have found a place that is so welcoming and friendly. She is active with MME, book club, luncheons, high tea and many of the outings which are offered.  She says “thank you” to the staff and leaders who have made MariElders such a great organization. 

Written by Carol Olberding                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Pat Van Stone (March 2020)

     Pat Van Stone was born one of six Matheny children in Springfield, Illinois, the Land of Lincoln. Pat’s great, great Uncle was Best Man to Abraham Lincoln. Her great, great grandfather was one of his pall bearers. She attended Springfield Junior College and graduated from the University of Illinois where she majored in English, a subject she loved. Pat met her first husband during her senior year of college. After college, they spent time in El Paso, Texas for his Basic Training in the service. Her husband’s work in Airport Planning brought them to Cincinnati. While living in Mt. Lookout Pat gave birth to two sons. She taught at Peoples(now Clark Montessori). Pat was very sad when they were transferred to Atlanta, Georgia. They moved during the Blizzard of 1978. Their moving truck took a detour to somewhere else before delivering their things to Atlanta. The roof of the truck leaked when all the snow on top melted consequently everything was totally soaked when it arrived at their new home! After a few years and a transfer back to Cincinnati the family lived in Anderson. Pat taught CCD classes and was a substitute teacher at Guardian Angels and Immaculate Heart of Mary. She also taught religion at St. Ursula Villa. Pat received a Masters Degree in English from Northern Kentucky University. After teaching Writing at Raymond Walters Pat returned to NKU to teach a variety of English courses from 1994-2010. Pat was recognized as Outstanding Part Time Faculty Member of the Year. Pat was thrilled to receive this award as it was from students, colleagues and administration.  Pat met her second husband on line.They were married in 2002 and moved to Mariemont in 2013. Pat’s two sons live in Cincinnati. One is an attorney and one is in Finance. There are eight grandchildren in her blended family. Pat proudly claims they are the light of her life. Pat has been a writer from a young age. She has journaled, written  many letters to the editor and more recently has self published two books, Silver Chances and Golden Chances. Pat gave a talk on Writing to the MariElders in February. She has enjoyed the movies and the PBS series at the Center.                                    Written by Nancy Powell

Mary Osterbrook (February 2020)

     Mary Osterbrock is from Somerset, Ky. She moved to Cincinnati when she was a junior in high school and graduated from Walnut Hills in 1959. Mary and her husband, David, had two children, a son and a daughter, and she volunteered with the League of Women Voters.
     After the children were raised, Mary and David moved to Florida and she worked full time as a technical writer and editor. She worked for Henter-Joyce, a software company in St. Petersburg.They developed JAWS (Job Access With Speech) for blind and low vision computer users. Mary’s job was to write and maintain the JAWS system’s voice-activated help screens. She says the job was interesting but stressful because whatever she wrote got translated into at least five languages. Mary’s next job was with Scott Plantz, the co-founder of eMedicine, which was an online resource for medical professionals worldwide. Mary worked as a senior copy editor until the Dot Com bust forced the company to consolidate and the headquarters moved to Nebraska.
     Mary and David grew tired of Gulf Coast hurricanes and decided to move to Georgia.They spent 9 delightful years living near Athens. They were planning on returning to Cincinnati when he fell ill and died after a brief illness.  In 2015 Mary moved to Milford (Oh) and she returned to her former church in Hyde Park. There she got to know Nancy Powell, who suggested that she might enjoy some of the activities at MARIELDERS.
     Mary had been active with a Great Decisions discussion group before moving from Cincinnati and launched a group at MARIELDERS two years ago. As Mary explained to Nicole, Great Decisions is a great way to learn and grow and gives insight into world news that goes beyond the daily news cycle.
     Mary has 5 grandchildren, the eldest just got married and is a psychiatrist in the Air Force, the youngest is a senior at Walnut Hills. Her only granddaughter graduated from UC in 2019 and is currently traveling and working in England.  Although Mary is not fond of Cincinnati winters, she is happy to be back where she can be close to her family.                                           Written by Carol Olberding


Susan Thorton (February 2020)

     Susan Meyers Thornton was raised in Mariemont and attended Mariemont schools. She was the last cheerleader for the Plainville Blue Devils and one of the first cheerleaders for the Mariemont Warriors. Susan and her best friend were Queen and King of the senior prom for the class of Nifty Fifty. She went to Miami University where she majored in mathematics and Bridge! Susan began playing Bridge with her mother and father when she was ten years old. She and her husband were high school sweethearts. After they married, they moved a number of times. Wherever they went, Susan played Bridge. She said, “I always knew I would be a professional Bridge player.” Susan was a member of the American Contract Bridge League. While living in Buffalo, she was invited by the Montreal Bridge Association to play Bridge with actor Omar Sharif, however Omar broke his nose and had to cancel! Susan was a Life Master in Bridge, a certified instructor and a Director. In 1963 she and her husband moved to Boston, the “city of her heart”. Her daughters, Donna and Denise, were born there. Donna now lives in Santa Barbara. Denise passed away in 2009. Susan has two grandchildren and one great. When she moved to Trumbull, Connecticut in 1969, she opened her own Bridge studio. In 1974 she moved to Dayton where she was President of Dayton Chapter of the American Contract Bridge League and was named to Who’s Who in Bridge.
     After her husband’s death several years ago, Susan moved back to Mariemont. She had always known about MARIELDERS and now participates in line dancing, the luncheons and day trips. She is currently leading a meditation class at MARIELDERS on Friday afternoons at 3:30pm. Susan is also a volunteer at St. Theresa. She has a very strong faith and has been part of the same prayer group for twenty four years. Her closing statement at the end of our interview was “God is first in my life.”                                                                              Written by Nancy Powell           

Richard Cocks (January 2020)

     Richard Cocks was born and grew up in Rockville on Long Island, New York. In summers, Richard’s father took the family to Breakabeen, a small town in Upstate, New York where they would spend the summer. The town was surrounded by beautiful dairy farms. These farms would have an influence on Richard later in life. Richard received a scholarship to attend Rennselaer Polytechnic University in Troy, New York. Engineers were in high demand at the time and a school advisor had encouraged him to pursue engineering. Once in college he soon learned that mechanical engineering was not for him but chose chemical engineering as his life’s work.

     Richard married his wife Carole in their senior year of college. His first job after college was at United States Steel Fairless Works in Pennsylvania. He and Carole settled in the newly built Levittown which was at the forefront of America’s suburb development in the late fifties. Richard laughed when he told me their mortgage was $73 a month for a substantially sized house. Richard and Carole began their family in Levittown. The family eventually included five children, a daughter and four sons. Proctor and Gamble came recruiting after not too long in Levittown and the Cocks family relocated to Cincinnati. Richard was with P & G until he retired.

      He is a man with many pastimes such as hiking, cycling, woodworking, travel and farming. Before he retired, Richard purchased a 260 acre farm near Wilmington, Ohio and a ranch in Wyoming. He has people who work the properties for him but there is still plenty for him to do in the management of the land. Richard continues to bicycle here in town and he cycles in Germany for a couple of weeks each year. He says that Germany is the best place in the world to do that as they have many excellent trails. He has hiked in Austria, Switzerland, France, Colorado and Wyoming. Another hobby is woodworking which Richard does in his own workshop. Richard’s wife Carole passed away some years ago. His daughter lives in Milford. One of his great pleasures is when she brings his great grandson to visit and they do things together. His sons are in Hilton Head, Dallas, Seattle and Portland. Richard came to MARIELDERS a few years ago at the suggestion of Kristin our Tai Chi instructor with whom he had a class at another facility. He also participates in the Advanced Bridge Group and the Just the Guys field trips.                            Written by Nancy Powell

Irene Howell (January 2020)

    Irene was born in 1930; she had an older brother and two younger sisters.  She attended St. Margaret of Cortona grade school, Mariemont HS, and graduated from Norwood HS.  Irene worked for several years for the U.S. Treasury in Cincinnati as a supervisor.  She learned sign language because she had people working under her who were hearing impaired.
    A friend introduced Irene to Bert (Albert) Howell when she was 18 and she recalls that on their first date they went to a movie at a theater in Madisonville.  They were married on April 19, 1952.  Daughter, Leslie, was born in 1953, son Charles (Chuck) in 1960, and daughter, Hope, in 1962. The family lived in Loveland for several years, then moved to Madeira and resided there for 40 years. They enjoyed traveling in their RV and visited FL, KY, TN, NC, SC   and Canada.  In 2002 Bert and Irene flew to England where they stayed several weeks.  She says it was the highlight of their travels.
    After Bert passed away in 2004, Irene sold the house in Madeira and moved to an apartment on Wooster.  She joined MARIELDERS and for many years helped with the Junque sale, and worked at our jewelry booth at the Kiwanis craft show.  Irene made many new friends while playing canasta, dominos, and attending luncheons.  In 2006 she bought a condo in Mariemont.  Sadly two of Irene’s children passed away in 2007, Leslie in May, and Chuck in November. 
   Irene enjoyed sewing items for her home and clothes for her family she also is a talented painter. She attended classes at the Art Academy and UC, and taught an art class at Sycamore Senior Center.  In 2018 Irene sold her condo and moved to SEM Terrace where she has many beautiful pieces of her art work on display in her apartment.  Irene continues to come to the Center on Tuesdays to play mahjong.  Irene says Mariemont and MARIELDERS were great for her and she misses the Village Kitchen where her grandson, Michael, loved to go.

                                                                               Written by Carol Olberding                                    

Mary "Jo-Jo" Brumbaugh (MARIELDER of the Year, 2019)

     Mary Jo (JoJo) Brumbaugh is a high energy person. Her philosophy is caring, loving and laughing. Her involvement in MARIELDERS demonstrates that philosophy in every way.
     JoJo joined MARIELDERS in 2016 when Barbie McConnell (another member) invited her to go check out what the center had to offer. She joined that day. JoJo has been involved in Laughtercise, Meditation, Chair Yoga and she helps assemble the newsletter. She enjoys series like Foyles War, the Roosevelts and Ted Talks. She loves meeting new people. JoJo can often be found setting up before and cleaning up after the many parties we have.
     JoJo was raised in Hyde Park and has lived in Mariemont for 34 years. For thirty years she was a kindergarten teacher in Cincinnati Public’s inner city schools. She has a daughter, son-in-law, a grandson and a granddaughter in Traverse City, MI. They get to spend much fun time in the summer with the Brumbaughs at the family cottage in Omena, MI. JoJo enjoys fishing for Muskie in Canada. She loves to garden, do crosswords and read. Her favorite authors are John Gresham and Janet Evanovich. She describes herself as a “sports nut”. She was a swimmer, diver, volleyball and basketball player in times past.
     JoJo has a smile on her face for everyone. She is another of the many interesting and fun people you will meet MARIELDERS.                    Written by Nancy Powell 

Barbara Wilder (Dovember 2019)

     Barbara grew up in Conshohocken, PA and lived in several different towns in the Philadelphia suburbs.  She attended Ursinus College in Collegeville and earned a Bachelor’s degree in History and English.  While still in the Philadelphia area she worked with mentally challenged ladies in group homes.  She also worked for Kelly Services, was a deaf-relay telephone operator, and did a lot of market research for MSI International.
     In November, 2009, Barbara decided to move to the Cincinnati area to be near her son, David, and his family.  She settled in a home in Fairfax where she has done a lot of work on her house.  She enjoys the community there, and attends church and Neighborhood Watch meetings.
     Barbara’s son, David, and his wife, Dina, moved to Mariemont in 2000.  They have 3 children, Jack, Claire, and Erin.  Jack attends the University of Cincinnati, and Claire and Erin play sports at Mariemont High School and Junior High.  Barbara enjoys attending their games and goes as often as possible.
     Barbara says that MARIELDERS has meant a lot to her.  She attends the non-fiction book group discussions and Great Decisions, both of which she finds very interesting. Barbara is on the Welcome Committee and works on getting the monthly newsletter ready to mail.  She enjoys Needle Nook, the Junque sale, and Nicole’s good cooking at the luncheons.      Written by Carol Olberding        

Pat Baker (December 2019)

     Pat Baker was born and raised in Chicago. She attended Catholic Schools from first grade through college at DePaul University. She majored in English and minored in Theater with a focus on dancing. Pat loves to dance and really loves Disco, winning a prize once for best disco dancer. She met her husband at DePaul. They were married 64 years and had 7 children together, five sons and two daughters. Pat loved raising her children. She said it was so interesting and creative for her. She had some part time positions while they were growing up such as teaching women to put make up on in a department store, teaching an exercise/dance class and working as an assistant to a chiropractor which she later did full time.
     Pat moved to Cincinnati four years ago. Her two daughters live here so she had visited many times. It was still a big adjustment. Her husband had dementia and lung cancer. Pat cared for him at home with Hospice help until he passed away two years ago. About three months later Pat woke up one morning and said to herself, “I’m done crying. My husband would want me to get on with my life.” She got up, took a walk and found MARIELDERS. She was warmly welcomed. Her first activity was a luncheon where people introduced themselves and were so friendly. She found people with similar experiences in their lives. They listened and they shared. Pat says this comfortable place was extremely helpful getting her through her grieving process. She participates in Chair Yoga, Tai Chi, Core and Balance, Strength Training and Line Dancing. She attends the Lunch Bunch outings, the parties and loved the kayaking on the Little Miami last year. Pat has 18 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. Some of them attend Mariemont Schools so she enjoys being part of their activities, too. Pat often travels to visit her sons in San Diego, Louisville and Chicago. As we were finishing the interview Pat said, “All in all, I have had and am having a wonderful, interesting life and I am very grateful.”                                                                                                                                    Written by Nancy Powell

Linda Kratzer (November 2019)

     Linda’s motto is “I don’t spring clean, I move”.  Seeing as how she’s had 20 different addresses in 9 states, that’s probably a good motto to have.  She started out in Marion, Ohio where she was born and raised.  She attended Kent State for two years, then married Jim Kratzer.
     Jim was a negotiator of government contracts which required him to travel a lot as well as to move the family to various cities.  They had residences in Arlington, Va., Hyattsville, Md., St. Louis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Buffalo, and New Orleans.  In between packing boxes, they managed to have two children, Sheryl, who presently lives in Cincinnati, and John, who with his wife, Kara, and 3 daughters, live in Dallas, Tx.  Linda and Jim spent 13 years in New Orleans, which Linda says was the most interesting of all the places that they lived.  If you have any questions about Mardi Gras, she probably has the answer.  Tragically, Jim died in 1999 as the result of a car accident while on a business trip to Alaska.
     Linda then moved to Pensacola, Fl where she met George Ratzenberger, who was retired.  They were married in 2001, and then moved to Cincinnati in 2014 to be close to Linda’s daughter.  George passed away in 2017.  Linda had various jobs over the years but she loved selling real estate most of all.
     Linda didn’t think she would ever want to join a senior center, but she did volunteer to work at our Junque Sale for a couple years.  That got her acquainted with MARIELDERS and she decided to join in August, 2014 because she likes to play bridge and our location is convenient since she lives in the area.  Linda has since made a lot of new friends; she participates in the MME classes, joins the lunch outings, High Tea, and various other activities.  Linda says she’s a “cat lady” and enjoys her two furry friends, Fred and Ethel. Written by Carol Olberding                    

Julia Heiner (November 2019)

     Julia grew up in Mariemont attending Mariemont schools from pre-school through high school graduation. She attended Indiana University majoring in Art History then acquiring a Masters Degree in English. Julia met her husband at IU. After finishing their degrees the Heiners settled in Delphi, Indiana where Julia taught English and Art. When her husband relocated to work at a college in Huron, South Dakota Julia accepted a position in Huron teaching Spanish. She was also the Art teacher for four schools where some of her students were Native American. While in South Dakota she was asked by the President of the college where her husband worked to be the Grants Director for the College which she accepted.
     Julia was later recruited as a fund raiser for The National Council on Aging in Washington, D.C. While there, an amusing incident occurred. The White House had been called to ask if Mrs. Clinton could speak at a NCOA function. When the White House returned the call they explained that Mrs. Clinton’s schedule precluded her from attending…but asked if it would be alright if PRESIDENT Clinton attended. Needless to say, the answer was “Yes”. While in Washington Julia was also a fund raiser for the Smithsonian. When the Heiners moved to Metro Washington Julia returned to teaching high school Spanish and English.
     Julia’s mother lived in Mariemont and was a MARIELDERS. After she passed Julia kept the house on Nolan Circle. When she and Ken decided to retire three years ago they moved to her mothers’ house.  Karen Hulefeld, also a MARIELDER, is her next door neighbor. One day Julia said to Karen, “Let’s go play Bridge at MARIELDERS” and so they both joined that day. Julia enjoys Book Club, Bridge, Lunch Bunch and day trips.            Written by Nancy Powell

Hildegard Tomblin (October 2019)

     Hilde was born in 1931 in Passau, Germany, a city on the Danube, where her parents owned a restaurant.  She was the youngest of 5 children, having 4 older brothers.  She experienced WWII and recalls having to seek shelter in bunkers when planes were flying overhead.  Her father and brothers were called into service, her middle brother was killed in Finland, and her father later died in 1948 of war-related sickness.  Hilde completed high school, but there was no money for college, the war was over, and she stayed in Passau and worked in her parent’s restaurant.
     Hilde met her husband, Don, in Germany in 1958 when he was serving with the American Intelligence Unit in civilian clothes.  They were married on Friday, the 13th, 1959 and they came to Cincinnati to live in 1960.  Don finished with active duty but spent 30 years in the Reserves; he joined the Cincinnati Police Dept. in 1963 and retired in 1990 as a sergeant.  They were married 59 years and had 2 children.
     Hilde enjoyed the restaurant business because she loves meeting people.  She stayed in that profession for 30 years working in different bars in the Hyde Park-Mt. Lookout area.  Hilde’s daughter married a Navy Lt. and currently lives in San Diego.  Her son is an attorney, he and his wife have 2 daughters, and they live in Whitefish, Montana.
     After becoming a widow, Hilde needed something to do and fellow-member, Ruth Wehage, encouraged her to join MARIELDERS.  Hilde is on the Welcome Committee, enjoys playing Mah Jongg, and looks forward to the various outings and luncheons that the Center offers.  She says the companionship and new friendships that she has formed have added greatly to her life.  Hilde recently moved to an apartment in Highland Towers in Mt. Adams.  She loves it there and has a great view of the Ohio River.                                  Written by Carol Olberding           

Marianne Gay (October 2019)

      If variety is the spice of life then Marianne Gay’s life has been full of spice! The sixth generation of her family to be born in Jacksonville, Illinois Marianne lived there until she went to college. One of the great experiences of her life growing up was going to camp in Michigan for eight weeks every summer. Marianne attended Florida State University where she majored in Art. Returning to Jacksonville, she took a position as a physical education teacher for high school girls, then an opportunity arose for her to become the Art Supervisor for three elementary schools.
     After a time, Marianne headed to St. Louis where she became a buyer for Stix, Baer and Fuller Department stores where she met her future husband. After living in Appleton, Wisconsin they moved to Terrace Park, where they lived for 23 years. Their three children, two daughters and a son, attended Mariemont schools where Marianne was the PTA president and led a Girl Scout troop with fellow MARIELDERS, Barb Anderson.
     Marianne did many different things after her divorce, she sold real estate, worked at Giddings-Jenny, ran a catering business and a bed and breakfast with a friend in Bayview, Michigan. She returned to Jacksonville to take care of her father and while she was there she was a substituted teacher. After her father died she moved to Hilton Head. Missing her family Marianne moved back to Cincinnati.  She became a volunteer at Legacies and one day on her way home she stopped in to the MARIELDERS.  She joined and now can be found playing Canasta, Bridge and attending any parties that include food.           

Written by Nancy Powell                                       

Arlene Brill (September 2019)

     Arlene Brill was born at Christ Hospital and grew up on Petoskey Ave. in Mariemont, the third generation of her family to live on that street. She still lives in the house where she grew up. Arlene graduated from Mariemont High School and the University of Cincinnati with a Masters’ in Education and played in the marching bands for both schools. Arlene taught math and science at Lockland Middle School, coached girls’ basketball, volunteered with the marching band and served as the school district’s computer coordinator until she retired in 1993.
     Bands of all kinds have played an important role in Arlene’s life as she plays the sax and clarinet. Arlene has been involved with UC’s marching band from playing in college, then with the alumni band and also volunteering with the band at their many games.
     A friend of Arlene’s who lived in Oregon introduced her to three exciting marching bands: The One More Time Around Again Marching Band, Get a Life Marching Band, and The Beat Goes On Marching Band. Arlene enjoyed many adventures with these three bands. She marched with the Get a Life Band at President Obama’s first inauguration parade and with The Beat Goes On Marching Band she traveled to China for a parade and celebration of marching bands. Arlene no longer marches with these bands but plays with the UC Community Band from May through July here in Cincinnati.
     Arlene was an avid skier, sailor and athlete. On her 60th birthday she won a downhill skiing award, the Nastar Bronze Medal. She sailed her own boat for many years at Cowan Lake and in 2004 she and her niece biked 150 miles in Florida raising $2200 for Multiple Sclerosis. Arlene keeps very busy volunteering at the Cincinnati Nature Center, Krohn Crafters and is a member of The Cincinnati Symphony Club. She is also the only person I know who splits her own wood! Arlene is a long time member of MARIELDERS. She performs the important service of tracking down the value of many of the unusual items MARIELDERS receives for the Junque Sale. 

Written by Nancy Powell                             

Russ McMurry (Sept. 2019)

     Russ McMurry grew up in Austin, Texas and attended the University of Texas where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education.  While attending the university, he met Shirley Eidson, who was playing bridge, which Russ also enjoys.  They found that they had a lot in common, enjoyed their time together, and were married after graduation on June 10, 1956.  Russ used his degree and for two years he taught 3 classes per day on Texas History for Breckenridge Independent School District.  He also coached various sports and worked nights on drilling rigs in various oil fields.  (Roughneck).
    Russ and Shirley moved to Houston where Russ got a sales job for an oil field equipment manufacturer.  Over the years they moved 6 different times and his job took them to Odessa, Texas, New York City, Philadelphia, and then to Cincinnati in 1972.  Along the way they had 4 children, 3 boys and 1 girl, each born in a different city.  The children completed high school here before going on to college.  Russ traveled a lot in connection with his job and Shirley would join him when she could.  They spent time in Italy, Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Canada, and St Croix, among others.
     Shirley and her sister, Gloria, joined MARIELDERS and they enjoyed many activities together.  Unfortunately, Shirley passed away in 2013 due to an accident.  Gloria then encouraged Russ to join MARIELDERS and his first activity was at the Italian Festival where he met Barb Hampton.  Barb invited Russ to come to the Center to play bridge and he now is the coordinator of the Advanced Bridge group.  Russ still works 22 hours per week as V.P. of Quality Control at Cincinnati Valve Company.  Russ has 7 grandchildren.  Three live close by and one of his greatest joys is to spend as much time as possible with them, traveling to lacrosse, basketball and baseball games.  Russ says his time with MARIELDERS is just great.  There are so many wonderful people and activities to enjoy.  The bridge group has many good players, and they look forward to the Friday afternoon get togethers.

Written by Carol Olberding                                                                                         

Sandy Caruso (August 2019)

     Sandy Caruso was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. Her love of art may have begun watching her grandmothers sew. It was solidified in the fifth grade when her teacher recommended her for the Carnegie Tam ‘O Shanters, a city wide art program which introduced her to many forms of art. Sandy attended Wittenburg University majoring in art. After graduation, she came to Cincinnati and took a position at Proctor and Gamble in marketing and sales. The job required much traveling which in the 60's was quite exciting.

     After she was married, Sandy and her husband traveled all over Europe for three months On their return Sandy went to work as a sales representative at Blue Cross. She stopped working when her son Ryan was born. While at home Sandy developed an interest in antiques, particularly antique clothing. Her grandmother was going to throw out some lovely clothes from the 1890's. Sandy retrieved them and they became the foundation for a business she established in the 70's on Mt. Lookout Square, Wearable Heirlooms. She enjoyed being in business for herself. She was able to take her son to work with her when he was small. Although she still had a booth at antique shows, Sandy closed her shop in 1988 as antique sales were down.

She went to work for Delhi Gardens designing silk flower arrangements and window displays for the Parisian department store. Having been divorced for some time Sandy attended the Singles group at Hyde Park Community Methodist Church. It was there she met her future husband, Jerry Caruso. When they moved to Madison Place, they joined MARIELDERS. He was very involved in supporting Sandy’s mosaic business. Sadly, Jerry passed away suddenly a year and a half ago. Sandy became interested in mosaics and in 2002 she took courses at the Art Academy. She had never dissolved her business so she was able to slip  back into being in business for herself. She loves the “hunt” for materials for her beautiful pieces which she shows at places like the annual Hyde Park Art Show.

     Sandy comes to the MARIELDERS' luncheons and participates in the This is Art Class.  She recently invited the Is This Art? class to come to her studio where she demonstrated her mosaic making process. Sandy is still grieving the loss of her beloved Jerry but having her art is a gift which continues to bring her comfort and satisfaction. 

Written by Nancy Powell

Barbara Hampton (Aug. 2019)

     Barb Hampton and her brother, Dave, grew up in Mariemont; Barb graduated from MHS in 1960.  While Barb was attending Wilmington College, she met Bob, her husband-to-be.  They married in 1964 and had 3 children, Don, Rob, and Nancy.  Barb and Bob enjoyed playing golf and they had many happy times together when they were at their condo on the beach in S.C.  They traveled to Europe in 1997 to visit their son and daughter-in-law who were living in Germany at the time.Bob passed away suddenly in 2003 while playing golf.  They were married 40 years.  The following year Barb hosted a golf outing at Bel-Wood Country Club in his memory, raising $22,000 for diabetes research.

     Barb worked as a school librarian for 20 years for Loveland City schools, which she says was a rewarding experience.  She enjoyed performing in Loveland Stage Company plays.  She had the lead role in “The Man Who Came to Dinner” and was a dancer in “Guys and Dolls”. 

     Barb has volunteered at Hospice, Matthew 25 Ministries, and Big Brother-Big Sister.  She was a Big Sister to two girls for several years.

Barb’s mother, Ginny Clark, who many of us remember, had worked for 25 years as Treasurer at Mariemont schools.  They both got involved at MARIELDERS when Barb became her mother’s caregiver.  Barb is thankful for the friendships and happy times that her mother enjoyed at MARIELDERS . Barb leads the canasta and bridge groups.  She is on the Welcome Committee, and was Marielders of the Year in 2017.The things that Barb enjoys are:  spending time with her 9 grandkids, old movies, dancing at Moonlight Gardens with her best friend, Bill, swimming at Coney Island, and attending Cincinnati Reds games.  Barb says that life is good and family is her greatest blessing.  She has made many friends at MARIELDERS .  She says the staff is great, and the various activities offer something for everyone. 

Written by Carol Olberding

Karen & Hal (July 2019)

Meet Our Newlywed MARIELDERS
Mr. and Mrs. Schmithorst


     Cupid’s arrow arrived at MARIELDERS in 2018 and brought two of our members together…but let’s start at the beginning.

     Karen Gulat grew up in Fairfax and graduated from Mariemont High School. Karen was a single mom to her son and worked at Ford Motor Company for 25 years until breast cancer forced her into early retirement. Karen had been a member for several years but was not active due to her work schedule. When she needed transportation service to her treatments, she called on MARIELDERS for help.

     Hal Schmithorst was raised in Terrace Park and Indian Hill, he received his BA from University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Northwestern. He married Elsa and they raised one son together whom now has 12 children. Hal owned a medical supply business in Fairfax. After his wife died of cancer Hal decided to check out MARIELDERS rather than sitting home and watching TV.

    Hal and Karen met in MARIELDERS’ Maintaining Your Strength Class and started talking, Karen told Hal that after class she was scheduled for a chemo infusion. Hal’s wife had cancer for twelve years so he know a lot about the process and he offered to go with Karen for support. The next day they had a three hour lunch at the Dilly and then attended a high school concert together that evening and the rest is history.

     Hal proposed twice – once in the gazebo in Terrace Park and then again in Newport Oregon with a special Oregon sunstone ring. They were married in Oregon last January by their minister and two witnesses.

    A reception was held at the MARIELDERS on July 24 and we wish Karen and Hal many happy years together.

Written by Carol Olberding and Nancy Powell 

Wes Iredale (June 2019)

     When Wes Iredale was 13 his family moved from Mariemont to Dayton, Ohio.  He graduated from Fairmont East HS, then graduated from UC, majoring in Finance.  He received his MBA from the U of M in Ann Arbor and started his career as a financial analyst.
     Wes worked in a number of cities over the years, Ashland, KY, Indianapolis, Dallas, St. Louis, Memphis and Cincinnati.  While in Dallas, Wes met his wife, Nina, who was a flight attendant for American Airlines.  They took advantage of her benefits and traveled to many places in the US and often vacationed in the Caribbean.  In 1995, while living in St. Louis, they became the proud parents of twin daughters, Natalie and Caitlyn.  They moved back to Cincinnati in 2000, lived in the Eastgate then moved to Mariemont in 2005. After graduating from MHS, Natalie went on to graduate from Ohio State and Caitlyn from Miami Univ.  Wes’ parents are also MARIELDERS.
     Due to impaired vision, Wes stopped working in the mid 2000’s and was on disability until retirement.  He enjoys swimming three times a week at Mariemont HS and served as a trustee on the pool board.  He has also volunteered at the Mariemont Preservation Foundation, the Mariemont Town Crier as a proofreader, coached softball and started the elementary school girls’ volleyball program in 2012 and was involved until 2017.  He has tutored at J.P. Parker School, working with students in an early literacy program.  Wes is an avid sports fan and follows the Reds, Bearcats, Wolverines and Bengals.
     Was has enjoyed many ME activities: Kayaking, in-house TV series, movies and “Just the Guys” outings. Wes says that ME has been a blessing and a joy for him, especially since going on disability. The ME transportation helps him get to doctor appointments and to J.P. Parker school.  The feeling of community is wonderful and it is always a pleasure to meet someone new on an excursion or at one of the luncheons.                                                              

Written by Carol Olberding             

Karen Hulefeld (June 2019)

     For the past six years Karen Hulefeld has been back in her “old stomping grounds”. She was raised in Madison Place, attended McNicholas High School and worked as a ticket taker at Mariemont Theater. Karen received an Associate Degree in Business from the University of Cincinnati. After college, she worked downtown at Cincinnati Gas and Electric, now Duke. A friend introduced her to her husband who was an electrician working nearby at 5/3rd.  They lived for forty years in Madeira where they raised three sons. One son is now in Pittsburgh, one in New Orleans and one here in Cincinnati. Karen has eight grandchildren.
     While in Madeira, Karen was very active at St. Gertrude Catholic Church and has been singing in the Resurrection Choir for thirty years. When Karen’s children were all in school, at 40, she decided to enroll in the Raymond Walters School of Nursing. On graduation she went to work at Hospice of Cincinnati at Bethesda Oak. She describes her experience there as the most rewarding nursing experience. Later Karen worked in Preadmission Testing at Bethesda. Karen still enjoys meeting with a group of women who raised their children together. Over the years they have been a lunch group, a bridge group and a book group.
     Karen moved to Mariemont after the death of her husband six years ago. She and Julia Heiner became MARIELDERS at the same time a year and half ago when they came to play bridge. Karen’s mother was also a MARELDER. Now Karen participates in MME exercise classes, Canasta, luncheons and line dancing.  She also belongs to a golf league at Little Miami and is in a Bowling League. Karen and her sister teach a Bible Study class to kindergarteners at St. Vincent Ferrer Church and is on the Worship Commission. She tends the garden plots and is involved with the Prep Program (formerly CCD). She and her granddaughters’ other grandmother are looking forward to taking their granddaughters on a trip to Savannah, Georgia soon. Needless to say, Karen has never lost her desire to give to others, to keep busy and to have fun! 

Written by Nancy Powell                                                                       

6923 Madisonville Rd,   Cincinnati,  OH, 45227

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