Learning in Retirement – Train Your Brain

Panorama AuditoriumWe recently invited Dr. Rob Winningham to present as part of our Learning in Retirement Lecture Series. Dr. Winningham is a professor of psychology at Western Oregon University. He provided incite to recent scientific findings related to cognition and memory that indicate our ability to improve our memory by engaging in regular cognitive stimulation. Dr. Winningham gave a long list of cognition stimulating activities, including crossword puzzles, college classes, book clubs, gardening, juggling, and many others. A lot of these cognition stimulating practices involve doing or seeing something new, such as visiting a different grocery store, taking a different route to a familiar destination, and learning new games or hobbies. In addition to cognitive stimulation, good nutrition, exercise, and social support have been found to improve cognitive function and memory.

Active Retirement – Resident Political Groups at Panorama

Panorama AuditoriumWith a population of approximately 1,200, Panorama is diverse in many ways. Over the years, residents have come together, based on common interests, and created a myriad of clubs and organizations. Two of these groups are the Panorama Republicans and the Democratic Study Group. They each meet on a monthly basis, most often inviting guest speakers to present on varying topics.

This month, the Panorama Republicans have invited Mr. Zeke Lyen, Chair of the Thurston County Republican Party. Mr. Lyen will be sharing his plans and thoughts for the county republican organization.

State Legislative District 22 Senator Karen Fraser, Representative Sam Hunt, and Representative Chris Reykdal have been invited to the upcoming Democratic Study Group forum. They will be reviewing the successes and failures of the 2013 State Legislature. This forum is open to the general public. Tuesday, June 11th at 1:30 pm in the Panorama Auditorium.

Resident Spotlight – The Voice of Panorama

Well, the spring edition of “The Voice” is out and, as always, it’s filled with stories of intrigue, artfully crafted limericks, and detailed introductions to some of our newest residents. With each new release of this quarterly edition of collective works, we are reminded of the endless experiences, memories, unique perspectives, and philosophies that permeate our community. Roughly 1,200 people live at Panorama, with ages ranging from 58 – 101. Imagine the endless variety of personality, knowledge, and talent to be found in a community like ours. “The Voice of Panorama” is one of many ways we get the opportunity to explore the experiences and perspectives of others. Enjoy the following excerpts from the current edition.


Reunion in New Guinea (Part Two)

In late August of 1944, the intrepid crew aboard the “General’s crash boat” had just entered the Woendi Island harbor where a small fleet of naval warships lay at anchor. Our mission was to visit my brother on the submarine tender USS Orion before I returned to the States. Suddenly we were caught in the glare of searchlights from at least six ships. Now go on with the story.

A voice from the nearest ship’s loud-hailer demanded that we stop and identify ourselves and state our business. So here we are at midnight on a dark night being interrogated in the middle of a fleet of warships with at least six searchlights shining on us –and our “business” is to visit my 21 year old brother who hasn’t the remotest idea that I’m anywhere close to him.

So our skipper called out his name and organization. Then he told me to, “Take over!” So I stood out on the bow and said something like, “I’m Lt. S– and I have been ordered to return to the States tomorrow. My brother is assigned to the Orion and I request permission to visit him,”

Then, except for one, the searchlights went dark while the remaining light pointed out the Orion, which happened to be the “cruise ship” nearest us. When we reached the boarding platform of the Orion, I was interrogated again, this time by the ship’s Officer of the Day. Evidently whatever I said was enough so that he gave me permission to board. Our skipper and the others stayed on the crash boat and, presumably, napped or sat around and drank coffee. Once on board a sailor led me down inside the ship to a sleeping compartment with bunks stacked five high. He told me to wait under the dim night light while he told a sleeping body in the top bunk that someone wanted to see him. We both had so much to talk about and hardly knew where to start so we took a tour of the ship. We went up and down ladders and into many of the areas specially equipped to repair most any part of a submarine. we checked out the engine room, a very large (and very CLEAN!) compartment where only the generator for ship’s electrical power was running. The extensive machine shop was most impressive; — if they didn’t have the proper part, they could make it. Orion was really a sleeping giant, except for those few on duty. After the tour we found a little place near the gangway where we could talk — and talk we did.

About 2 a.m., the sailor on watch said that my skipper was ready to leave so he could get back to Owi Island before breakfast. Once I was back on board, the skipper lost no time in heading out of the anchorage area and the channel. About the time we were on a compass course for Owi, I lay down on the deck and slept — awakening just as we were preparing to moor at the Owi dock.

After a quick breakfast, I headed for the airstrip where I was happy (!) to find a twin-engine A-20 attack bomber about to  leave for Hollandia. The side gunner’s seat was empty, so I put on a ‘chute and climbed aboard. Takeoff was normal but as soon as we cleared the island, the pilot headed down the coast — about 15 feet above the water and close to the tree-lined shore where A-20 pilots like to fly. And that altitude is where we stayed until time to enter the Hollandia landing pattern. We passed one Japanese soldier wading in knee-deep water about 50 feet from shore, doing his laundry. How did we know he was Japanese? Well, at that altitude the pilot and forward gunner got a good close-up look at one startled Asian male. We must have passed within 30 feet of him.

Back in Hollandia, I learned that the troop ship had arrived so I packed up my gear and went aboard for the trip home.

Sixty years later, my brother told me why the sub-tender was on one side of the bay with the fleet on the other. Orion carried more than a million gallons of fuel for the submarines plus 250 live torpedoes. She was a king-sized floating bomb. I also realized that God did my scheduling because there is no way I could possibly have coordinated the movements of two ships, three airplanes, one motorboat, and five or six jeeps to make my trip possible in the space of twenty four hours.

***Jack S.


Inspiration in Different Packages

Teachers can influence us in different ways at different times of our lives. Some know when they connect with us and some don’t have a clue. Katherine Billings at Panorama’s Auditorium was an inspirational mentor to me. She encouraged me to bury my fears and not be terrified to speak in public. While learning to ignore that imaginary angry mob, I also found that my pounding heart quieted down, my throat spasms quit and my sweaty palms ceased. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Mr. Frazier, my high school geometry teacher, never knew that he opened my eyes and caused me to appreciate my true self. Mr. Cruelty had the reputation of causing at least one girl in each of his classes to cry. However, I was not worried that this calamity could happen to me because I was a quiet honor roll student who finished assignments on time and never caused any problems. Boy, was I wrong!

On that first day Mr. Toad explained to the class that females had no right heading to college. All the college openings should be for men who needed the education. And just because you earned A’s and B’s in algebra didn’t mean you would succeed in his geometry class. In order to review our first homework, Mr. Despicable assigned each example to a student to demonstrate at the blackboard. I was the first up and the first to be attacked. I had solved the problem correctly, but I was at a loss to answer the rapid-fire questions he shot at me as he stormed down the aisle. He shouted at me and totally humiliated me. With a dismissive hand wave he allowed me to gratefully crawl back to me seat.

And so it went every morning that week. I was always the chosen target. Friday was a particularly rough go-around because as Mr. Ogre derided me, he was so close to my face that he was spraying spittle on me. Perhaps it was time to see if my father could intervene with the principal to get my class changed. I was beginning to think I couldn’t continue this torment for the rest of the school year.

At the end of class as I skulked out, a fellow student came up to me and said, “I don’t know how you can stand it! If I were getting yelled at like that, I couldn’t be like you. I’d be blushing and…” “You mean I’m not blushing?” I had pictured myself red-in-the-face, dejectedly cowering as each spewed insult rained down on me. “No! You just keep staring at him and don’t show any reaction at all.” Ah ha. I now knew that my emotions were not giving me away. I could appear self-controlled and thick-skinned, and I could do this by myself without parental involvement. Although I might never conquer geometry, Mr. Pond Scum would never see any embarrassment or weakness in me. And he did not succeed in breaking me, even though he continued to select me daily for the homework indignity.

Today I feel a satisfaction in knowing that Mr. Insult-to-Humanity had no inkling that he was inspiring me to appreciate and further strengthen my inner resolve. This was an enormous gift to me from an ignorant, self-important barbarian.

***Linda K.


Active Retirement – PCTV Camera Operator Steps in Front of the Camera for Special Interview

Long time camera operator, Ruth Z., recently left her familiar position in the control room for a spot in the limelight when the opportunity arose to conduct a very special interview. Ruth’s grandson, Kevin, works for the Washington Conservation Corps, which is part of the AmeriCorps program. Kevin and his group of colleagues spent about 36 days in New York and Atlantic City assisting with storm relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The following interview overviews Kevin’s experience. http://youtu.be/rhtzty46RYY



Active Retirement – An After Eight Bunch ladies tea party with hats!

Women gathered for tea, talk and delectables on a warm, sunny spring afternoon. Fifty hats hung throughout a Holladay Park home with mirrors strategically placed so all could find the perfect fit of character, color and charm. It was great fun and a great way to gather old and new friends: women from eight different neighborhoods attended.

Active RetirementActive Retirement


The After Eight Bunch is one of the 38 or so activities sponsored by the Resident Council and is an informal group offering a variety of activities on and off campus. Anyone can host an event; communication is by email. Activities have included dinners at the campus restaurant, theater outings, a ferry ride from Bremerton to Seattle with ferris wheel ride and dinner, girls nights out, picnics, an Oscar party and many more. The After Eight Bunch is open to any Panorama resident.

Resident guest blogger,

Linda C.

Active Retirement – Neighborhood Fun

Our 140 acre campus is made of 11 different neighborhoods. Although we are all integrated as a large community of active adults, each neighborhood also carries a community of its own. One charming example of this is our Holladay Park neighborhood. This is a group of people who have fully embraced each of their neighbors as part of a larger family. They support each other in their many endeavors, such as personal appearances in on-campus club performances. Most recently, the group got involved in a whimsical affair involving flamingoes and croquet. In the words of a particular Holladay Park resident:

“We had a FABULOUS event here in Holladay Park. After one neighbor was “flamingoed” with many birds for his birthday, the flamingos started migrating to other yards. One neighbor made a big deal of it and so more and more flamingos, eggs, and other birds joined her “Bird Haven.” With each addition, she sent out emails full of humor and fun. She invited all to a Flamingo Croquet game….no rules, brooms for mallets, balls of all sorts, and prizes (flamingo eggs aka jelly beans) for those who could get from one end of the course to the other one way or another. The weather was perfect and it was a huge success bringing together 27 of us. – Linda”

Above all the wonderful things that come with life at Panorama is the true sense of community we all share. It’s spontaneous events like a neighborhood flamingo party that make Panorama so much more than a place to retire.

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Resident Spotlight – Dr. Nels Hanson

Dr. Nels Hanson Way

Dr. Nels Hanson Way – photo attributed to South Puget Sound Community College

Panorama is not alone this year in celebrating 50 years. South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) in Olympia has also reached the golden year. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the Winter 2013 edition of Soundings, the college magazine, featured reflections from  past college presidents who have shaped SPSCC into the respected institution it is today. One of these past presidents is none other than Panorama resident, Dr. Nels Hanson. A man of great leadership and virtue, Hanson is considered a pioneer of the college as we know it today.

Dr. Hanson graduated from Washington State University and later earned his doctorate at Stanford. He began his career in education as a high school teacher in Randle, WA, where he taught for two years before joining the Army to serve in World War II. After the war, Hanson returned to teach at Randle, where he met a fellow teacher who would soon become his wife. Hanson’s knack for leadership was put to use during his time in Lewis County as manager of the Morton Loggers’ Jubilee.

In 1957, he took a teaching job at Olympia High School and, two years later, became the Director of Science and Math for the State Superintendent’s office. By 1966, Hanson was wearing two hats, as the president of Centralia College and the Director of Science and Math at the Superintendent’s Office. It was during this time that new legislation opened a door of opportunity for Olympia that Dr. Hanson would see through to a successful future.

Although Olympia had Evergreen State College, there was an academic gap to be filled. Once the Community College Act of 1967 passed, the ability to fill this gap became apparent. The act created Community College District 12 for the area and Dr. Hanson was named as the first district president. Centralia College was alone in the district and the gap remained in Olympia.

“I knew we needed a community college in Olympia but the legislature would never allow it.”

The solution came from an already thriving Olympia Vocational Technical Institute (OVTI) that was operating downtown. Under the Community College Act, OVTI could be transferred from the Olympia School District to the newly formed District 12 and thus be transformed into a community college with an academic focus.  However, this idea was met by substantial resistance from OVTI faculty members and Citizen Advisory Committee.  There was also concern that a community college in Olympia would take away from the college in Centralia, causing enrollment decline. On the other hand, Dr. Hanson knew a community college status for OVTI would provide access to funds that could create a better future for the school.

The transfer of OVTI from Olympia School District to Community College District 12 first went to a school board vote in December 1968, resulting in a 3-1 majority against the transfer. After another year of discussion and a second round of voting, the transfer was approved by the school board.

Conditions that accompanied the transfer were intended to prevent a negative impact on Centralia College and to ensure a continued commitment to vocational education. Thus, academic classes were prohibited for the first year of operation but the college would eventually grow to become fully comprehensive.

During his tenure as District 12 President, Dr. Hanson saw many big changes in education for the area. Along with the successful new beginning for OVTI, Hanson oversaw the establishment of an education program for inmates of the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton.

Speaking of the program in Shelton, Hanson stressed the importance of education in providing a personal identity for inmates.

“We did as much as we could to give them an identity outside of the prison and tried to distinguish their education as equal to that of a legitimate community college. “

To that end, inmates enrolled in the program were able to obtain the degree that was most appropriate to their previous schooling. For instance, if an individual had some college background they could obtain their 2 year degree. Others obtained General Education Degrees and some even finished their 4 year degrees. Each degree received through the program was identical to any other degree from the community college in Olympia.

Dr. Hanson decided to retire from his tremendous career in 1981. He still attends certain events for both colleges, Centralia and South Puget Sound, and says he is so proud of their accomplishments and continued success.

Even throughout retirement, he has continued to work hard and exhibit his qualities as a natural leader. At the age of 94, Dr. Hanson owns and manages 600 acres of forest land that he has collected over the years. His favorite piece of land is 300 acres located near Rainier. He likes to go out and plant seedlings and “just do things in the woods.”

“I haven’t really retired yet. I don’t give it a day’s rest…always keep it going.”

It comes as no surprise that Dr. Hanson is well known in the Panorama community. He moved here in 2002 and has since been involved in resident organizations as a producer for Panorama’s closed circuit television studio and a former president of the Lacey Sons in Retirement.

“It’s easy to stay busy around here. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved.”

Nels is another legend here at Panorama that we are proud to know and call neighbor.