OLLI Illinois e-News Banner
Electronic Newsletter of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - July 2010

From the Editorial Committee
Welcome to the first issue of OLLI Illinois e-News, our bimonthly newsletter, member written and produced.  We had a great time putting this first issue together, but we can't continue to do it alone.  Contributions from you, our readers, will improve the product.  The next issue is scheduled to appear in mid-September. Please give us your ideas, photos, and stories for consideration.  You can send them to olli@Illinois.edu. If you're having any trouble reading this e-newsletter or have any other comments, let us know. Hard copies are available at the OLLI office.

Editorial Committee: Anna Merritt (chair), Barbara Meyer (technical wizard), Debbie Day, Traci Nally, Cecile Steinberg

In This Issue
Notes on the Annual Meeting
Meet Our New Board Chair
OLLI Has a New Home!
Castles and Wine
Summer Lunchtime Lectures
End-of-Summer Study Groups
Fall Classes Fill Up
OLLI Funnies
Mystery Photo
Quick Links
OLLI Illinois Home Page

Study Groups
Lunchtime Lectures

OLLI logo
Scene from Annual Meeting

Notes on the Annual Meeting

Rain didn't keep Judy Jones from attending the celebration.
Judy Jones
A downpour that arrived June 15th just minutes before the start of OLLI's annual meeting and end-of-year celebration didn't deter more than 200 enthusiastic OLLI members who toured OLLI's new home, attended the meeting and then enjoyed a delicious indoor picnic.
Retiring board members Gene Amberg, Debbie Day, Karen Fletcher, Holly Jordan, Anna Merritt and Traci Nally were thanked for providing leadership during OLLI's first four years. Bob Boucek, Ira Lebenson, Pat Schutt and Deb Townsend were elected to a second two-year term.  New board members David Crouse, Craig Cutbirth, Susan Feuille, Charles Kozoll, Barbara Meyer and Jean Weigel were elected to serve two-year terms.

Newly elected board Chair Ira Lebenson and Vice Chair Deb Townsend shared a moment at the annual meeting.
Ira Lebenson and Deb Townsend
New board officers were also elected: Ira Lebenson, Chair; Deb Townsend, Vice Chair; David Sharpe, Secretary.
Retiring committee Chairs Sharon Bryan, Wanda Tracy, Emmie Fisher and Karla Peterson were applauded for their significant contributions during their two-year terms.

The annual meeting minutes and annual committee reports are on file in the OLLI office or can be read at
OLLI Board Meetings.

Debbie Day, Lisa and Mark Alan, Barb Hartman and Peter Michalove enjoyed the evening's activities.
Group shot

Meet Our New Board Chair

Dr. Ira Lebenson, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon, retired from Christie Clinic in 2002 after 30 years of service.  Immediately he began to pursue his many interests and hobbies, particularly building military models, that he was not able to devote time to during his years of practice.  We are lucky that he has decided to spend some of his time as the newest president of the OLLI board. 
After completing his surgical training, Ira was recruited by Christie Clinic in August 1972.  His undergraduate education was at the College of William & Mary (1961).  He attended New York University's medical school (1965), and he did his residency at NYU Bellevue Hospital in 1972 -- at the end of which he became the youngest board eligible surgeon in the country.  

He is originally from the Bronx, and his wife, Cecile, from Long Island.  They did not know how long they would stay in Champaign-Urbana, but realized very quickly that it was a terrific place to raise a family.  It offered a wonderful quality of life.  The Lebensons have three grown children, Julie, Rachel and Matthew.  Each of the girls has three children, and their son will be married in July 2010.  

The Lebensons did not know, so many years ago, that having season tickets near Anna and Richard Merritt at the Krannert Center would lead to OLLI.  Anna, a clever lady with years of service to charitable and educational organizations, knew the Lebensons would be prime candidates for working with OLLI.  She pounced and the rest is history.
Ira looks forward to the challenges of continuing OLLI's growth and expanding its excellent programming to meet the needs of the membership.  He hopes to satisfactorily fill the shoes of our prior board presidents, Anna Merritt and Debbie Day, whom he admires for doing a great job for the first four years of OLLI at Illinois.

OLLI Has a  New Home!

On June 15, 2010, OLLI moved to a new location.  We are at 1800 South Oak Street in the Gateway Building, across from the I-Hotel.  (The building is in the Research Park, on the northwest corner of First Street and St. Mary's Road, but the parking lot and entrance are on the west side of the building.)  Our Annual Meeting and End-of-Semester Celebration was held in the new space, and the more than 200 members who attended gave our new home an enthusiastic thumbs up.  The new location has:  
  1. Janet Summers, Kathleen Holden and Brenda Deaville were all smiles as they welcomed members to OLLI's new home at the Annual Meeting.
    Scene from Annual Meeting
    offices and classrooms on the first floor;
  2. staff offices adjacent to the coffee/library area, one large "smart" classroom with projection equipment, and the study group room;
  3. a second large "smart" classroom adjacent to a large atrium, which is perfect for OLLI's social events, and can be used as another informal gathering space;
  4. access to an outdoor patio area for events or just sitting outside; 
  5. additional free parking.
If you haven't already done so, come by and see us some time! Our hours are 9-5, Monday through Friday (although the noon hour can be a bit "iffy" some days).

Marksburg Castle
Marksburg Castle

By Diane Walker and David Zell

Twenty-seven intrepid OLLI members and guests traveled in southwestern Germany from May 25th  to June 3rd to experience its castles and wine as well as its history, people and scenery. Our first stop was Heidelberg, where some of us learned that the 'burg' (fortress) is on the 'berg' (hill) and not the other way around. Heidelberg was hilly and did indeed have a fortress/castle on one of them. Germany's oldest university (1386) community felt familiar to many of us. Students bicycle everywhere and frequent the plentiful cafes for delectable Flammkuchen, beer and/or wine.
Wonderful German meal: spargel (white asparagus), Schnitzel, glass of Riesling
Spargel Cathredral
Most of us repeatedly enjoyed spargel (white asparagus); it's available only for a few weeks in the spring and is prepared in every imaginable way by almost every restaurant in the country.

Heidelberg Castle was built and rebuilt in native red sandstone over centuries. One major remodel was for the benefit of Elisabeth Stuart, granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots, who married Frederick V of the Wittelsbachs, a prominent family among the prince electors. The baroque Frederick Building in the castle memorializes these princes with stone statues on its façade. Another highlight of the castle is the Great Tun, reputed to be the biggest wooden barrel in the world ever to have been filled with wine. It stands over 2l' high and is over 25' wide; it could hold 220,000 liters!
Speyer cathedral
Speyer Cathredral
An outstanding feature of our visit to Speyer was its tremendous Romanesque Cathedral. Built in just 30 years in the 11th century, it is 111' tall and 440' long and can 
accommodate 12,000 people. It remains a burial place for Habsburg rulers. Speyer was the location of a Roman military post as early as 10 BCE and a Roman city for 400 years. Speyer has a long tradition of a strong, but sadly not unbroken, Jewish community. A well-preserveded 11th  century ritual bath is still filled with 48-degree ground-water and continues to fulfill its ceremonial function. Its uneven steps symbolize the imperfect people who use them.
En route to Annweiler, where the Pension Bergterrase was to be our base for three nights, we visited Bruchsal, the palace of a Bishop of Speyer. Our outstanding tour guide explained how painting was used to fool the eye in many ways, making the palace seem even grander than it already is. A collection of huge, ornate mechanical music boxes housed here also captured our eyes and ears!
Anna and Traci enjoy the winetasting.
Everywhere we went in the Rhineland-Palatinate we saw steep hillsides growing grapes. Grapes for wine production were imported during Roman times, and wine production remains a major industry in this part of Germany. The single biggest German wine-growing community is Zell on the Mosel River with over 6 million vines.

A most memorable lunchtime was spent at the Weegmuller family winery. Founded in 1685, it is now in the hands of the 11th  generation, and today's chief winemaker is a woman. At our official tasting, we sampled several wines from dry (trocken) to semi-dry (halbtrocken) to sweet (süss); then there's the official classification system with "Kabinett," "Auslese," and "Spätlese," but we won't go into that today. At the tasting we were served so many yummy soft pretzels complemented by cheese and sausages that we almost decided to make this lace-curtained wine-tasting room our cafe.
Another day trip from Annweiler included a visit to Hambach Castle, where a powerful pro-democracy protest took place in 1832 and a wiccan (witches') convention was being held when we arrived. Burg Trifels, which could be seen from our lodging, was a focus of another day. There we learned a new definition of "gentle slope." Burg Trifels (three rocks) was never taken in battle and is renowned for being the place where Richard the Lionhearted of England was held for ransom as he was returning from the Crusades.
Other remarkable castles visited included the ruins of Rheinfels, a massive fortress once home to hundreds of soldiers, and the intact Burg Eltz, which has remained in the ownership of the same family for nearly 900 years. Portions are still used by the 33rd generation today.
Trier, another ancient Roman city, was once one of the top ten cities of the Empire. Roman relics, some noted by UNESCO as World Heritage sites, abound: a basilica that was once the Emperor's throne room, the Porta Nigra (Black Gate), an amphitheater from about 200 CE, and the ruins of extensive Roman baths. The 12th  century Trier Cathedral, oldest in Germany, is traditionally famed for possessing Christ's Tunic, a gift of St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine.
Koblenz, too, owes its existence to the Romans who built a castle at the scenic confluence of the Mosel and R
Map of the  Palatinatehine rivers around 9 BCE. Today, a monumental statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I overlooks the area. Nearby is a monument made from three panels of the notorious Berlin Wall.
When we left Annweiler, our innkeepers gifted us with several bottles of wine. Our OLLI group did its best to sustain our good relationship with this part of Germany, which is already home to America's Ramstein Air Base (formerly Landstuhl), an important refueling stop en route to Afghanistan and Iraq. During our last evening in Germany we enjoyed the wine given to us in Annweiler as we cruised along the romantic Rhine River enjoying delicious pork tenderloin along with another multitude of castles!
Auf Wiedersehen, Deutschland!

Summer Lunchtime Lectures Scheduled

Do you wish you could see some of your OLLI friends before fall classes begin? If so, you might like to attend one of the lunchtime lectures planned for July and August:
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 - Fossil Fuels: Their Geology and Their Future
Monday, August 16, 2010  - The Harp 
Wednesday, August 18, 2010 - An Introduction to the Symphonies and Orchestral Songs of Gustav Mahler
Check the web site for more information about them and their presenters. All lectures run from noon to 1:30 pm.   Be sure to register ahead if you wish to attend; at that time you can also order a box lunch. Call Brenda at 244-9141.

End-of-Summer Study Groups

If you're worried about "OLLI withdrawal" until classes start in September, how about joining one of the study groups planned for the month of August?
Science and Technology
Tuesdays, August 3-September 7, 10:00-11:30am
Norman Miller, who taught Mechanical Engineering at the University of Illinois for over 30 years and also founded a technology company, will lead the exploration of new developments.  The group will draw its material primarily from Scientific American magazine, and participants will be polled to see if they have special expertise that can benefit the group.  They will also vote on topics to be examined.  Some possibilities from special issues of Scientific American include "Managing the Earth's Future," "World Changing Ideas," and "Understanding the Origins of the World as we Know it." Click here for more on this group.
New Yorker Magazine
Wednesdays, August 4-September 8, 10:30am-Noon
This ongoing study group will be facilitated by Cheri Sullivan, who has read The New Yorker most of her adult life.  She has enjoyed the study group so much that she volunteered to lead this one.  The study group is designed for readers of The New Yorker who want to get together to discuss articles in recent issues of the magazine and who enjoy a lively exchange of views and opinions. Click here for more on this group.
German Genealogy
Thursdays, August 5-September 9, 10:00-11:30am
You think your great-great grandfather came from a tiny town called something-something "haus" somewhere in southwestern Germany, but you're wondering how to find it.  Or you have a faded document supposedly showing the date of an ancestor's marriage back in the 1800's, but you don't really know what it says.  Anna Merritt, a German speaker since early childhood and a frequent visitor to her parents' native country, will lead group members in an exploration of their German heritage and will help decipher and translate old German documents.  The group will use a variety of genealogical approaches and may invite local experts to discuss specific topics of interest. Click here for more on this group.

Fall Classes Fill Up

Fall enrollment started several weeks ago, and five of the courses are already full.  It's exciting to see that OLLI members act quickly and plan ahead - - so join them, check for classes that are still available and sign up soon!
Courses that are full:
Everyone Has a Story
Introduction to Taiji & Qigong
Mysteries of the Ancient World
A Natural History of North America
Theatre in Context
There are still many other interesting selections.  Check the web site at www.OLLI.illinois.edu/courses/ for the full picture.

OLLI Funnies
This is the first in a series of cartoon strips by our own OLLI member, David Zell, in which he introduces the characters from Heartland.

Humor by David Zell

Mystery Photo

Do you know what this building is? And where it was located?  Watch for the answer in the next OLLI Illinois e-News.

Mystery Photo