This past week as I was reading Wednesday Journal, I arrived at the column by Ken Trainor [The journey that may or may not end, Viewpoints, June 8]. One of the statements caught my eye, the poem by Tennyson. This section of the poem is one that we have used for the past 18 years in describing the Ulyssean event, sponsored by the Senior Citizens Center of Oak Park-River Forest.

In 2004, 50 years after the birth of the Senior Center, we decided to celebrate this milestone by establishing the Ulyssean Award. Each year for the past 18 years we have chosen individuals who have exemplified the journey of one’s life, one that keeps them involved in community, their volunteering spirit to make life better for others, and to celebrate that journey along the way.

Ken describes his personal journey by the statement he makes, to better himself and maybe others, to journey as far as he can. Whatever happens along the way, he will keep going, all the way to the end. Ken was one of our Ulysseans in 2018.

When one looks back over the past 18 years, you have to be in awe of those who have been chosen Ulysseans for each year. It is always with sadness to recognize those who have passed away along this journey. Those individuals were pillars of our community.  These names will always be remembered for their exceptional journey: Sherlynn Reid, Redd Griffen, Virginia Cassin, Lee Brooke, Gus Kostopulos, Roberta Raymond, Norbert Teclaw, Lawrence Christmas, Donald Offermann, Barbara Furlong, Jeanette Fields, Harold Rohlfing, Michelle Germanson, Dolores Register, and Margorie Gockel.

Our Ulysseans still on their journey are Rev. Dean Lueking, Chatka Ruggiero, Sylvia & Gysbert Menninga, Sandra & David Sokol, Marguerite Bloch, Jim Bohenstengel, Harriette & McLouis Robinet, Nancy Waichler, John Hedges, Mena & David Boulanger, Ann & Gene Armstrong, Marty Noll, Harriet Hausman, Barbara Ballinger, Janet & Bob Haisman, Ken Trainor, Nancy Teclaw, Rev. Don Register, Galen Gockel, Stephanie Clemens, Bob Downs, Mary Kay O’Grady, and Charles Williams.

Tennyson’s poem sums up the Ulyssean Way with the thoughts: “I am part of all that I have met. … How dull it is to pause, to make an end. To rust unburnished, not to shine in use. … You and I are old, Old age hath yet his honor and his toil. Death closes all, but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done. … Come, my friends, ’tis not too late to seek a newer world.” He ends his speech with, “Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” It is this thirst for learning, doing, and adventure of body and spirit that is the Ulyssean Journey.

The Ulyssean Award honors individuals in the community who exemplify this lifestyle and philosophy. The specific criteria for the award are: an individual must be age 50 or above, they must have demonstrated commitment to the continued quest for lifelong learning, and they must have had significant involvement in, and made contributions to, the community that have served to broaden our social, educational and/or cultural horizons.

On Sept. 21, one of the Ulysseans we will honor this year is Jerry Lordan. Save the date.

Nancy Teclaw is the executive director of the Senior Citizens Center of Oak Park-River Forest.

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