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MSURA History

A Short History of the Michigan State University Retirees Association (MSURA) - 1949 to 1997.

Joanne M. Reid

Edited by: Virginia Stewart

The Founders. Following a Faculty Club dinner on October 4. 1949, seven retired academics gathered to discuss formation of an organization of retired MSC staff members. The seven were: .M. M. Cory, R. P. Hibbard, Ch. Chapman., W.O. Hedrick, F.A. Keefer, Jacob Schepers, and Chace Newman. Post cards were dispatched calling for "a meeting of the men ... at the Club rooms" the following week. On October 11, 16 potential members gathered, and a committee consisting of H.H. Musselman, Charles Chapman, and H.B. Dirks was appointed to prepare Club by-laws. Two days later a third meeting was convened with the tentative names of Venerable or Sages Club -- eligibility: any man who has retired from MSU, and purpose: sociability and service. Dues were briefly established at $.50 a year but soon increased to S1.00. Objectives were outlined:

     to provide constructive interests for retired men,

     to develop mutual interests among ourselves,

     to keep in touch with those who may be ill or shut-in

     to interest ourselves in public need and activities.

The executive committee was to consist of a president, vice president and secretary-treasurer. Later a list of all retired persons from Michigan State College was prepared by acting secretary Chace Newman which included women, although no women appeared on the Club’s roster for several years. By January 1950 things apparently had not progressed very far. H.H. Musselman made a rather desultory report: "No Name Club meeting January 10. No committees appointed. No motions made or passed. No business transacted. The so-called Secretary-Treasurer (himself) receipted for 5 membership dues." Not until June 17 did there seem to be any business conducted. At that time Charles Chapman was elected president, J. Schepers, vice president, and H.H. Musselman, secretary-treasurer (no longer “so-called"). By the beginning of the next academic year, the members were still debating the name of the Club, but in December the name Retirees Club was chosen by a vote of 11 to 1, and a program committee was appointed.

Membership hovered around twelve for a few years, and programs consisted mostly of talks by members in areas of their own expertise or trips they had taken. In October 1954 Chairman Brown of the program committee suggested several programs for the year, including a trip to the County Hospital in Okemos. The next month it was arranged to hold the December meeting at the County Farm, on which occasion “Mr. Minnis ... acted as a guide on a tour around the hospital. We came away feeling that the County Hospital is very capably handled and the patients well cared for." (F.A. Keefer, Secy. Pro. Tem.) On another occasion, "Dr. Bessey presented an historical account of the Graduate School at M.S.C. which was very complete and interesting." In June 1955 then President Leroy Foltz reported on several projects the Club felt to be of interest which included among other things, the promotion of a public round table on the use by the medical profession of prison "lifers" for experimental purposes under proper supervision. Other ideas were for creation of a "Retirees Purchasing Association" providing discounts, exemption from income tax on pensions under $3,500, a movement to base retirement on biological rather than on chronological age, and licensing of garage mechanics. President Foltz also spoke regretfully of the death of two members and the illness of another, saying that the Club had always tried to show its concern and sympathy to bereaved families and sick members by sending flowers. At the February meeting Representative Ralph Young showed movies of the famous Rose Bowl game and parade of 1956. At the end of the academic year the treasury showed a balance of $55.07, 43 2-cent stamps and 23 three-cent stamps. The October meeting got short shrift because the World Series was being played on TV. Membership at this time had swelled to about 15. At one meeting a speaker on agricultural produce advised northerners not to plant grapefruit indoors as he was acquainted with a couple who were so successful that they had to yield their bedroom to the tree's spreading branches. In April 1961 the Club hosted football coach Biggie Munn, who showed movies of his fishing experiences in Ontario. In October Representative Ralph Young informed the members about the Constitutional Convention which was meeting at the Lansing Civic Center. The financial statement for the year showed a balance of over $100. More than 30 persons attended the November meeting, at which two members were appointed as representatives to the Greater Lansing Senior Citizens Inter-Club Council, one of the earliest efforts to expand the Club's influence into the community. Meantime of course Club officers came and went, membership increased and the bank balances grew larger. In 1963 the Club was sufficiently affluent to donate $125 to the Men's Club to help pay for refurbishing of the Club rooms, in appreciation of the use of the rooms for many years without charge. At the end of the 1964-65 year the Club boasted 48 members.

World affairs were often reflected in the programs presented. In March of 1966 they hosted Mr. Fred Hendrick, from the Michigan Public Service Department, who had just returned from Iran where he assisted in the USAID program to improve Iran's electrical supply system. At the March 1972 meeting President Howard McCally gave a presentation of his previous visit to China because “of the interest growing out of President Nixon's recent trip there." There was a special luncheon for President and Mrs. Wharton and wives of Club members in the Gold Room of the Union Building in April at which President Wharton discussed an appropriate subject, lifelong education. In the fall of 1977 Professor Bill Stout of Agricultural Engineering gave a talk on "The Energy Crises - Real or Not?," followed by Arthur Farrall's presentation on his recently patented battery operated Volkswagen. Viet Nam was the subject at more than one meeting. Interest in University matters was naturally very keen, and the Club kept abreast of operations and developments. For example, Emery Foster, Manager of Dormitories and Food Services, discussed his operations at a meeting on November 12, 1968, and in December, Phil Patriarche spoke on the functions of the fire department and its relationship to the police departments. Another visitor described the operations of the Food Stores. Professor Ron Nelson, Chairman of the Animal Husbandry Department, discussed his visit to Argentina and the organization of a new land grant type of college in that country. Ken Beachler presented a well-received talk on progress toward construction of a new Performing Arts Center in 1973. He visited again in 1992 as the retired director of the center, to discuss the "rich history of cultural programs at MSU. " In May of 1976, the Club held a spring luncheon for all retirees, with several attending from long distances. The luncheon was designed to replace an annual retirees' dinner which had previously been sponsored by the University. In November 1977 Professor Harry Hoppe, secretary of the Retirees Club, gave a slide presentation on "Tombs and Temples along the Nile." He recorded that "No audible catcalls, boos or whistling were detected." In April guest Bryon Good, chairman of the Department of University Farms, pointed out that the site of the Union Building in which they were meeting was part of the original land grant of 600 acres obtained in 1855.

Community interaction increased steadily. The Club was invited to join forces in various projects with such groups as AARP, Meals on Wheels, and the Michigan Society of Gerontology. A Quiz Bowl based on a popular TV show of the time was put together and videotaped to show to other retirees in the community. It was staged as a Battle of the Sexes. Topics and scores were "Identifying pop songs and hymns - men 80, women 120, "IdentifYing garden flowers - men 10, women 60, "Identifying questions of athletics" ̈men, 100, women, 35, Common Michigan birds - men, 115, women 60 (totals = men 305, women 275.) The 1985-86 United Way goal of $325.000 was exceeded and helped along by a mail campaign conducted by Pat Ralston, Lyle Thorburn and others, who gathered in $21,000 from MSU retirees.

Women are Invited. There was always impetus toward increasing membership, but a notable change occurred in May 1975 when it was decided to invite all MSU retirees, including women, to become members. V.A. Freeman, former president of the Club, congratulated the Club on finally adopting a resolution he had proposed in 1957. Secretary Graydon Blank wrote "he inferred that maybe equal rights for women was a long time in coming as far as the Retirees' Club was concerned." (Minutes, 1O/13/75) Membership continued to climb, but a motion to increase dues to $2.00 failed. As time went on members enjoyed quite a few perks. Parking outside of gated areas was free, and free or reduced admission was available for athletic events, the golf course, the University Club (formerly the Men's Faculty Club), and the library, and, of course, a free meeting room had long been made available to the retirees in the Union Building. Special rates and services were offered by the Credit Union.

Through all the talks on travel and matters of particular interest to retired persons ran a constant theme of improving the lot of MSU retirees vis-a-vis the University, especially those whose pensions had been accumulated on a non--contributory basis in earlier years. Attention was paid to added fringe benefits including, among other things, dental benefits and increased major-medical benefits. It was arranged, also, that a member represent the retirees' group on the Faculty Affairs Committee. By the late '60's there was increasing talk of the inadequacy of retirees' pay and vague responses by the administration that pension discussions were "in the works.” These discussions were on-going for several years, along with the question of retirees' property taxes. In 1975 the efforts of the Club to improve pension incomes for the MSU old retirement plan at last bore fruit, and a modest increase in payments was granted by the University. In February of 1973 the Club passed a resolution to ask the University to process medical claims for retirees. This suggestion was cordially received by Keith Groty, Assistant Vice President for Personnel and Employee Relations, who spoke of making the Club a voice for retired staff in University affairs.

The Eighties: An Action-Packed Decade. The last monthly meeting of the 1979-80 academic year was held by invitation, in the public room of the Credit Union, and all subsequent meetings have been held there. Some major innovations accompanied the new decade. Although, the by-laws revised in 1979 still designated a secretary-treasurer to handle dual duties, it eventually became clear that one person could no longer handle the volume of work. In 1980, A. Virginia Ross took over from Robert Geist and Harry Hoppe, the last secretary-treasurer, and E. Lynnette Gatten became treasurer. A $500 account was opened with the University controller. Clella Dickinson was named secretary in October of 1982 (Retirees Club minutes). Committees had been formed to deal with special issues, such as an early benefits committee, headed by Randolph (Dan) Webster (Minutes. May 14, 1979), a Retirees Health Benefits Committee under Russell Hill, and an Economics Committee chaired by Orion Ulrey, who reported in the October of 1980 minutes that not surprisingly, no progress had been made on pension improvements. Analyses were done on the loss of the buying power of retirement incomes in the face of ever rising inflation. Included in the minutes for Winter of 1980 was a letter from the MSU Faculty Associates headed "Administrative Salaries Out of Sight,” citing Keith Groty's salary increase for 1979-80 of 13.36%, Assistant Provost Robert Banks, 27%, and Assistant Dean Laughlin, 26.2% ...”In coping with the current fiscal hard times in Michigan, Facuity Associates proposes that cost cutting at the University should begin with these exorbitant administrative salaries. "

Orion Ulrey, reporting on his survey of pensions and benefits at other universities, said that "MSU appears to offer the most limited benefits to its retirees of any Michigan institution." He reported in the January of 1981 newsletter on the low payments received by earlier retirees, which had been diminished because of inflation by almost 50% since 1970 and probably would continue to be eroded at a rate of 8-12% annually. He pronounced the objectives of the Club to be immediate increases in payments to those retirees and long-term adjustments upward for all retirees' pensions to equal the rate afforded active employees since 1970.

As the Club reached its thirtieth birthday, its original objective of sociability was expanded to include service goals. By-laws were revised and committees set up to handle the new responsibility. In response to letters of invitation sent out, membership jumped to 530 and there was talk of establishing Club branches in Florida, Arizona and California. The increase in numbers caught the attention of the University administration and helped bring into focus the plight of members who had very limited benefits and even less understanding of their entitlements. New committees were established to deal with expanding interests and responsibilities. In addition to the Health and Economic Benefits Committees, there were Membership, Newsletter, Program, Nominating and Service Corps Committees. In 1984 there was also a Hospital and Refreshment Committee. Of course, as time went on, many more committees were formed and dissolved.

In 1988 Dr. Frank J. Floyd from the Department of Psychology, asked the Retiree's Club to provide volunteers to participate in an MSU Retirement Study funded by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) through the Andrus Foundation. The subjects were to be married couples with at least one spouse retired, and the purpose was to analyze sources of satisfaction in retirement and the degree to which marriage contributed to it. The volunteers were asked to fill out a questionnaire after discussing it together and, later, to meet with a department psychologist to discuss their responses (Letter to John Roetman from Frank J. Floyd, Asst. Prof. of Psychology, April 22, 1988).

Among guests appearing at the monthly meetings in the Credit Union during the eighties were David Batch, Director of Abrams Planetarium, and AARP representative, Clarice Jones, who imparted the startling information that between 1977 and 1983 doctors' fees increased 200% and hospital costs rose 520%. (Minutes, Dec. 1984) At the meeting in October of 1985, Jack Breslin, Vice President for Administration and Public Affairs, described the construction that was underway on campus. Keith Groty was a frequent speaker, as were representatives of Staff Benefits, who kept the retirees informed as to their status with respect to all benefits. Jim Hough, the writer of The Onlooker column in the Lansing State Journal, spoke at one meeting. Alice Creyts, the new Retirees Club secretary, reported in November of 1986 that the Credit Union was planning to enlarge the meeting room, refurnish and redecorate it and call it the Spartan Room. This was a boon for the Club, which was growing steadily, though the chief impetus for the enlargement was the rapid growth of the Credit Union which had grown 500% since 1971.

The Retiree Service Corps. A Retiree Service Corps (RSC) was envisioned by Arthur W. Farrall and others to: 1) use the expertise of retirees constructively and 2) to assist the University in a time of budget constraints. In cooperation with the University, the group proposed to set up a procedure to bring skilled helpers together with University employment agencies on a regular basis. The work might be on a voluntary basis or for pay. A letter to Dr. Keith Groty, Assistant Vice President for Personnel and Employee Relations, stated that the Service Corps would work on behalf of all University retirees under guidelines agreed upon "with the Office of the Provost and the Office of Personnel Administration, Employment Division.” (RSC files, 6/80) A Service Corps Committee chaired by Pat Ralston was set up in September of 1980 charged with developing a list of retirees and their interests, which was then entered into computers and made available to prospective employers. A program was developed to establish relations between units of the University and the Corps, and representatives were set up in each department. Room 40 in the Nisbet Building was provided for the project, along with necessary furniture and supplies.

The Corps lost no time in pursuing its objectives. Volunteer help was provided to both academic and non-academic groups in a variety of areas. Dennis Clanahan, editor of the Spartan Senior Citizen, assisted with publicity. Jim Huston was designated as director of the Corps Operating Group in October1981. Early on, retirees began helping regularly at the Clinical Center. Within a year the Corps served 110 projects. In early 1982, Arthur Farrall announced that the Service Corps would work with the East Lansing Office of Older Peoples Program (ELOPP) to provide help with income tax returns. Later, help with health insurance problems was offered, primarily by Ruth Jameyson and Howard McColly. By 1983, 160 persons had signed up to work, and the Retirees Service Corps was receiving more requests than it could handle. Arthur Farrall served as the first chairman, assisted over time by Russell Hill, George Dike, Ken Ousterhout, Pat Ralston, Walt Johnson. Geoffrey Moore, Dorothy Ross and many others, all of whom were active in advancing the Corps' objectives. At the time of Farrall's death in 1984 the MSU Board of Trustees renamed the Agricultural Engineering Building in his honor. He was succeeded by Geoffrey Moore as chairman of the RSC. The Corps published four informative brochures. One, by G. Malcolm Trout, was entitled "Retirement Can Be Great.” Others were "The MSU Retiree Service Corps," "Your Income Tax," and "How to Use Your Health Insurance," by Ruth Jameyson, Malcolm Trout, Russell Hill, Pat Beemer and others. Malcolm Trout, Professor in the Dairy Science Department (later Food Science and Human Nutrition), was also honored by having a building named after him upon his death.

New projects flourished. Sometimes a lecture was called for in a department, ushers were needed for certain events, mailings were handled, help was given to the Food Bank program, the MSU Museum, the MSU Development Program, or the United Way drives. In time the Corps was set up as a regular University operation serving the Office of Human Resources. A 1990 annual report prepared by George Dike indicated that the RSC had 7 or 8 regular staff volunteers and 4- or 5 ready substitutes, 500 phone calls or office visitors, 245 persons responding to requests, and 100 persons willing to help when in town. A total of 592 hours were devoted to various jobs including 68,700 mailings, help at three conference desks, ushering at several events, reading to the handicapped, acting as Old Newsboys, timing athletic events, proctoring exams, and helping on research projects (SSC v.12, #2, 1991).

At a meeting in 1992 Keith Groty, now Vice President for Human Resources, gave high praise to the RSC for its service to the University and the community. In particular, he spoke of the Corps' great help to the Human Resource office in preparing frequent mass mailings for the University. He cited, among many other services provided by the Corps over the years, its assistance to the Public Safety Department in computerizing records of campus bicycle thefts, aid to a nationwide survey of higher educated retirees, to the Provost for the annual Faculty Reception and Retirement lunches and to the administration's program of Honor Awards for non-academic staff. He recognized those who served as "patients" for the School of Nursing, and as tour guides for the Michigan Festival, and lauded the Corp's unflagging help in the annual United Way campaigns. At this time the Corps had 120 volunteers in its ranks (Spartan Senior Citizen, v. 13, #2, p. ss4).

Although the RSC was extremely active and had received many accolades, Andy Doyle, reporting to the Board of Directors on September 26, 1985, reviewed his program for the Corps, saying he was seeking new approaches and ways "to humanize the Service Corps.” Computerization throughout the University reduced the need for secretarial and other types of assistance, and MSU unions were prone to regard volunteer work as a deprivation of work from employees. In 1994 President Clarence Hansen appointed a committee of long-time members (John Roetman, Pat Ralston, Walker Hill and himself) to revitalize the Corps. A Temporary Assistance Program (TAP) was proposed by Pat Ralston which he described in a 1996-97 memo as assistance "by retirees volunteering for specific tasks to aid programs of MSU.” He noted that executive secretaries still provide the centerpiece of the network of people placement. Though no longer a major component of the Association, the RSC continued in its mission under the direction of John Roetman.

The Club's Health Benefits Committee maintained the pace set by the RSC in the eighties in terms of identifying needs and working to achieve goals. In 1980-81 the University announced an increase in lifetime benefits under major medical insurance from $30,000 to $150,000 and undertook to provide 50% of dental expenses for retirees and spouses, open enrollment for insurance benefits, and other improvements endorsed by the health committee. The committee never slackened its efforts to eliminate the discrepancies between retirees and working employees: open enrollment for health plans (approved by the Office of Staff Benefits in January, 1982 (SSC v.3 #2, p. 2), annual physicals and flu shots, eye and ear examinations, reimbursement for drugs and appliances, etc. They also sought benefits of specific importance to seniors: reimbursement for health care at senior citizen housing, lengthening payment for extended care facilities from the first 200 days to at least 365 days of continuous confinement reimbursement for hearing aids, appliances and "second opinions," improved information programs, claims processing, and updates on benefits. At a retirees' meeting in October 1983 Dr. Keith Groty reported that MSU health benefits cost $756,000 in the previous year and that per capita costs for retirees alone were $74 a month. (Minutes, October 1983) The Club joined whole-heartedly in a University-wide program initiated in 1985-86, The Health Promotion Demonstration Project. A chairperson was selected and six Corps members were named to focus on the six areas comprising the project: 1) nutrition, 2) exercise and fitness, 3) stress management, 4) substance use and abuse, 5) safety, and 6) health services. The health committee, headed by Mildred Erickson, coordinated all six areas in the MSURA.

In the late eighties the health benefits committee was enlarged to deal with the many changes occurring on the health scene. The September 1988 issue of the Spartan Senior Citizen was devoted largely to health matters. One article printed figures provided by University Staff Benefits placing the University's cost for health care premiums for 1986-87 at 19.4 million dollars. Based on increases for1988-89, health benefits would total $24,293,700, of which only 3% would be paid by employees and retirees. A list of 15 health and retirement groups was published along with a message from Pat Ralston and Walker Hill, chairman and co-chairman of the health committee that representatives from the Retirees Club would participate in each group to assist retirees with any questions they might have. There was also a "Questionnaire for Caregivers" encouraging those who needed respite in-home care assistance to return the form to the Retirees Club, which was working in conjunction with the Lansing Area Respite Coalition (SSC v. 10, #1, 1988). In the following issue there was an "Update on Health Committee Activities" articulating the three goals of the health committee, which "are to contribute to your awareness of understanding and action regarding your health." The 15 service/program groups were listed, plus an additional group on senior fitness and exercise, with the names of Club chairpersons and co-chairpersons who could be contacted for assistance:

     MSU Health Benefits - Russ Hill or Graydon Blank. (Claim filing assistance - Ruth Jameyson or Dorothy Byrne)

     Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Physicians Health Plan, Health Maintenance - Frank Mossman or Lee Erlandson

     Social Security (Catastrophic Program) - Medicare, Medicaid - Gardner Jones

     Tri-County Office on Aging - John Hoffman or Merle Esmay

     Ingham County Health Department - Charles San Clemente

     MSU Healthy "U" Program - Larry Dawson

     AARP Programs

     Hearing Assistance - Fred Sackrider or Howard Miller

     Vision Assistance - Al Chapman

     Mental. Health Programs - Walter Johnson, Beatrice Moore, Rowland Pierson

     Nursing or Foster Homes, In-Home Care and Respite Caregiving - Isabelle Payne

     Legislation, i.e. Mid-Mich Legislature Advocacy Program - Leon Weaver, Ralph Turner

     Long-Term Care Insurance Program - Walker Hill

     Senior Fitness and Exercise Program - Wayne Vanhuss

     Health and Social Services Computer Network Project - Pat Ralston

     Miscellaneous and Backup Activities - Walker Hill, Lee Dean, Pat Ralston

Learning by doing is the best learning situation, so, if you would like to serve on one or more of these groups, contact these same people or call Pat Ralston or Walker Hill. Retiree volunteers had been responding to requests for help in most of these areas for a long time and were willing to help in newer endeavors as well. As an example, in 1992 Don Polin was coordinator of MSU respite volunteers, and was asking for additional members to help the five retirees already working in the respite program. "Don reminds us that the MSU Retirees Club is committed to provide care-givers for those who are taking care of MSU retirees or their immediate families" (lcl SSC, v. IV, #4).

A great deal of time and attention was devoted to the matter of long-term care, partly because health insurers, including the government, were calling for shorter hospital stays. Medicare did not provide for care beyond a certain period and little or no affordable long-term insurance was available. In January of 1988 John Roetman arranged a special meeting to inform retirees about the inadequacy of coverage in this area. He pointed out that while Medicare and a few insurers paid for limited skilled care (20 days), they did not cover intermediate or custodial care, and paid nothing for nursing home care. Long-term nursing care costs about $2,000 a month and the average stay was 15 months. Some 83% of nursing home patients became impoverished within a year's time. These patients would then have to turn to Medicaid, under which they were allowed only a homestead, $1,700 in assets and a $2,000 irrevocable federal fund. Roetman said that in the past year at least 11 long-term insurance policies had become available in Michigan, but warned that prospective buyers should inform themselves about the specifics. He listed 14 questions which should be asked when considering the purchase of any policy, including the cost, restrictions and period covered. (SSC v. 9, #3, 1988) As chair of the Service Corps in 1992, Roetman wrote a letter to Keith Groty suggesting that a University-sponsored individually paid group plan of long-term care insurance without the burden of financial contributions should be a positive move for all parties (ltr, John Roetman to Keith Groty, 7/29/92).

In 1988 the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act was enacted, eliciting prodigious efforts on the part of the committee to clarify its impact on MSU retirees. The Spring 1989 newsletter printed details of the act and comparisons of the old and new provisions, but after months of work the effort came to naught, as the Catastrophic Coverage Act was later repealed. A concurrent resolution sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman and 65 U.S. representatives favoring the establishment of universal medicine was endorsed by a number of Michigan organizations, and a resolution by Governor James Blanchard's Task Force on Access to Health Care also enjoyed some support. Retirees were informed in the Fall 1990 newsletter how to obtain more details, but with the excitement associated with the long-term and catastrophic health plans and the uproar over the Clinton health reform plans which came later, Rep. Waxman's proposal on universal medicine pretty much fell through the cracks.

The newsletter reported in December of 1994 that MSU was forced to consider changes in health coverage, as costs had increased 140 percent in the past six years and were projected to total nearly $48 million in 1993-94. The Blue Cross Health Insurance Company had not renewed its MSU contract in 1991 and many retirees changed to Aetna. However, the University decided to switch back to Blue Cross in 1994, because, by that time, it had established contracts with so many hospitals throughout the country that it could offer coverage at a much lower prices. The change went into effect in July 1994, resulting in a saving of $21 million over the next three years. The change-over entailed a major effort on the part of the Human Resources and Staff Benefits offices, resulting in a smooth transfer of thousands of health insurance contracts, and culminating in the establishment by BC/BS of an MSU office to assist with any problems which might arise in connection with benefits or claims. The Retirees Association assisted in the project by providing 200 volunteer hours spent in folding materials and stuffing envelopes (SSC, v.15, #3, p.2). At an Association meeting in 1995, Keith Groty referred again to "skyrocketing" benefit costs totaling $115,340,000, of which health and dental benefits accounted for $50,400,000. He urged joining in community efforts to cut down on health costs, saying managed care was the "way to go" (SSC, v.16, #3, 1995).

The Newsletter. Meanwhile, Graydon Blank learned that MSU Vice President Jack Breslin had asked the Office of Staff Benefits for suggestions in three areas affecting MSURA: pension increases, health insurance, and organizational support through assignment of a staff member for retirees' affairs and support for a newsletter. The newsletter did indeed make its debut in January of 1980, dubbing itself "a new venture within the enlarged scope of the Retirees Club objectives: intended to help MSU retirees keep in touch with one another and with the University; to keep you informed about Club meetings, local developments regarding rights and benefits; and the whereabouts, activities, and opinions of MSU retirees," Readers were invited to write to: Retirees Newsletter Committee, Chairperson Mrs. Luella Hamilton. The first issue of the newsletter reported on the death of the Club's vice president, Russell J. Kleis, MSU President Cecil Mackey's reception for retirees in the Centennial Room of the Kellogg Center, and the locations of retirees throughout Michigan. Significantly, it included an article headlined “MSU Retirees Club at 30,” reporting that "when the 1979-80 Planning Committee sought additional benefits from the University (we) discovered very little concern because our small Club lacked the numbers to make a strong impact on influential people. Larger numbers were not essential when our objective was primarily social." The committee and Club officers, therefore, "concluded that the Club should have both social and service objectives.” The by-laws of the Club were revised, and planning continues in pursuit of these objectives. “(W)e share the idea that first priority ... should go to those who have seen their retirement checks eroded by inflation and who also lack the partial protection from inflation now afforded by the Federal Social Security System."

The newsletter, entitled "The Spartan Senior Citizen"(SSC) was first edited by Paul Sweany who was forced to relinquish the position for health reasons. Dennie Clanahan, who was editing for the Retiree Service Corps, took over the reins in April of 1982. In the January of 1982 issue a new section was published, featuring letters from retirees in East Lansing and around the globe, relating their adventures in retirement. Retiree Bob Geist was the first editor of "What Retirees Tell Us," and was succeeded by Mark Allen in 1984. After nine years of spirited editing, Dennie Clanahan resigned his position, on which occasion President John Roetman said, "What can we say to thank the man who spent so many hours doing something he liked to do and from which we all benefitted? We are grateful to him for the fine job he has done." Clanahan proposed that Erling Jorgensen take the job. Jorgensen found himself being asked to do the work of at least three people: Editor Clanahan. Mark Allen who was also resigning, and Ruth Adler who had been typing the newsletter. Jorgensen and his computer gamely took on responsibility for the entire newsletter. "I could use a little help," he said. The letter section, now called "Our Members Tell Us" grew exponentially, as did membership and undertakings in the MSURA, and as the editors job expanded many members were called upon to help with news gathering and writing, especially after Jorgensen moved to Arizona in 1994 and continued editing long-distance. In 1993 the Board decided that inasmuch as the Club was spending more than its income, largely on the costs of publishing the newsletters, only the fall edition would be sent to all retirees while dues-paying members would continue to receive all three issues annually.

The Local Edition. In 1989, thanks to Pat Ralston's inspiration, it was decided to publish a local edition of the newsletter, issued monthly through the academic year, to be edited by Ralston and Don Gregg and typed by Sandy Cuthbertson (lcl SSC, v.V, #1, p. 1). As President Bob Angell wrote in the first issue, "the local edition's aim is to be a special informational service zooming in on the Greater Lansing area. We want to encourage more members to turn out for our regular monthly meetings ... (and) to visit with former co-workers on a steadier and more frequent schedule.” The issue also carried an informative article on the new catastrophic health insurance plan, a chart showing Club dues paid in the Lansing area and a notice about local events of interest to retirees. The newsletter was sent to all retirees within a 50-mile radius monthly from September to May. Subsequent issues featured the highlights of the Club's activities and kept tabs on meetings, a wide variety of services, and pertinent publications that were available locally. Increasingly, information was disseminated concerning community agencies existing to aid older persons, such as the Michigan Center for Aging Policy, Tri-County Office on Aging, Michigan Office of Services to the Aging, Capitol Area Interfaith Respite, East Lansing Recreation and Arts Senior Program (formerly ELOPP), or the Lansing Catholic Diocese Refugee Services. The last-named was involved in helping refugees start new lives in the Lansing area. Mrs. Pat Hepp, Director of Refugee Services, was among those who had helped to relocate thousands of refugees. She spoke of ''Today's Melting Pot" at the January 13, 1997 MSURA meeting, saying that 30 families were successfully operating businesses in the area, but calling attention to the need for food, clothing, furniture, and even old cars for new refugees.

Opinions and input were always sought by the newsletter editors and association officers. Pat Ralston, in October of 1993, asserted that "Senior health and well-being has been a perennial prime topic in newsletters and programs. Is this OK? Or are there other topics more important? Drop a line to (your) editor." In the same issue President Clarence Hanson expressed the thought of all presidents before and after him, "feel free to express your ideas and wishes to your (Club) Association Board of Directors."

In October of 1995 a special newsletter was included in the regular edition announcing that after years of effort by the Association, 600 of Michigan State University’s earliest retirees had been granted a 15%,increase in non-contributory pensions. A flier was included with the October 1996 edition quoting President Don Polin on the membership of the Association. There were 3,211 retirees in July, dues payers totaled 1,560, and there were 2, 117 local members. Later he was quoted as saying, "Others like and need us. Our association is popular and well known; and there is good reason for this. We are volunteer-oriented and always ready to assist other organizations." As an example, he mentioned the Red Cross which was then screening five MSURA volunteers to be trained to help in their local office to assist in campus blood drives.

It was announced in a May 1995 issue that it would be the last for Don Gregg after seven years of collaboration with Pat Ralston. However, shortly thereafter Ralston stepped down from the editor's position to assume other duties, and Don Gregg, under the title of interim editor, was still looking for a replacement at the time of this writing. Volunteers Stephanie Barch and Pat Jeffries processed the newsletter by computer, replacing Katherine Lehman, who had typed it from 1989 until 1995. From their beginnings the two newsletters have told the story and reflected the values and efforts of the Retiree's Club Association in all its undertakings: to assist the retirees in all possible ways and to serve the interests of the University at all times.

Florida and Arizona Join the Club. A nascent chapter of the Retirees Association gathered in Florida in March of 1982, with some encouragement from Jack Shingleton of the University administration. By fall they had 63 attendees and had elected officers and established a regular meeting place at the Crown House Restaurant in Sarasota. In Arizona a group had a reunion and lunch at Sun City in 1984. At the first of the new year some 70 enthusiastic Arizona retirees gathered to form an MSURA organization of their own, and Lester Bell was named chairman. Later, meetings of the group were held in Green Valley, AZ. The Florida group was particularly consistent in maintaining a strong organization, which met faithfully every year, elected officials on a regular basis, and drew relatively large numbers to their meetings. On March 3, 1992, 145 MSU retirees gathered for their tenth luncheon at the Holiday Inn - Riverfront in Bradenton. The meeting was presided over by Florida President Lawrence Stebbins. Harold Davidson and John Roetman from the Retirees Club, and representatives from the MSU Alumni Association attended as guests and Keith Groty of Human Resources was, as on so many other occasions, the guest speaker. At Florida's 13th annual get-together in 1995, there were 108 members present and the program featured Dennis Fleishman for the MSU Alumni Association; Human Resources' Kristine Hynes, Chairman of the MSU Board of Trustees, Russell Mawby, Provost Lou Anna Simon, and John Roetman from the MSURA. President Everett Beneke and other officers were re-elected whereas the Arizona contingent, which met at about the same time, had no officers. As Erling Jorgensen. master of ceremonies, said, "they run a looser ship." The Arizonans were addressed by Provost Lou Anna Simon as well as Keith Groty, University Development Representative Wayne Baskenille and Alumni Association Representative Susan Zimmerman. At last report the Floridians gathered once again in Bradenton in March of 1997, with speakers Lou Anna Simon and Keith Groty as guests (SSC v.16, #3; 1995; v.18, #2, 1997).

Other Business in the Nineties. Throughout the years, the Club always kept a watchful eye on actions affecting retirees' interests. For example, it interceded with the Michigan Legislature to oppose a proposal to rescind the Michigan income tax exemption for recipients of state-funded pensions. In 1992 it pointed out that this would amount to a tax increase for University personnel who had made future economic plans on the basis of existing tax exemptions (SSC, v.13, #2). Shortly thereafter the tax on pensions was eliminated by the Legislature. On October 1, 1993 Michigan's onerous inheritance tax, also criticized by the MSURA, was repealed and a more lenient federal tax put in place. In February of 1991 President John Roetman reported findings from a joint TIAA/CREF and MSU personnel office questionnaire which had been sent in April of 1990 to about 2000 seniors concerning their experience with retirement. Put briefly: Of those who responded, 50% considered themselves satisfied with retirement, 5% not; 95% retired by choice; 80% received no pre-retirement counseling (68% thought it would be useful); 57% still lived where they had retired and 40% had moved away. Reasons for moving were: climate, 33%; proximity to family, 20%; less home maintenance, 18%; smaller home, 15%; better living area, 13%; and health, 12%. Health was reported very good by 44%; good, 28%; excellent 13%; and poor, 10 %. Health insurance coverage was rated adequate by 53%; very good, 25%; and inadequate, 11%. Of long-term health coverage, 78% had none and 10% had some, but 2% had never heard of it. Most had retired at age 63, and 26% said they were living very well; 25%, well; 33%, adequate; and 4%, not well. As a service to the MSU personnel office, Club volunteers expected to spend the month of June sorting through the more than 1800 questionnaires which had been returned to date.

Pensions. Several references have been made to the Club's struggle to induce the University to increase the stipends paid to persons or spouses who retired under the University Non-Contributory Retirees Pension Plan (UNCRP) prior to the advent of the contract with the TIAA-CREF pension system. In October of 1989 John Roetrnan, then President of the Retirees Club, wrote to University President John DiBiaggio calling attention to this long-time effort to "resolve what we consider to be an injustice to a large part of MSU’s retirees." At that time, there were 753 retirees receiving about $3,500 per year in retirement benefits, many of them without Social Security. "Indeed 74 of our widows or widowers receive under $2,000 per year." He wrote that other public employees of the State of Michigan had been granted periodic adjustments in their pensions and benefits since 1972, with a $6,000 yearly minimum for state police along with optical, dental and medical plans. Michigan public school employees enjoyed similar advantages. In a letter in January 1990 he pointed out that there had been no cost of living adjustment to CNCRP since 1975. In the fall of 1990 Roetman again wrote to President DiBiaggio, pointing out that many of these people had been advised erroneously by finance or personnel officials of the University that they would be better off to stay with UNCRP than to transfer to the new plan. He recommended plans to achieve retirement parity for MSU retirees with employees of the State. In the fall of 1990 President Roetman was able to announce that "after many years of countless meetings with the administration and members of the Board of Trustees" on June 8 the Board of Trustees agreed to increase pension payments for those on the old plan. (SSC v. 12, #1, p. 2) He expressed special thanks to all of those Retirees Club members who "have spent so much time and effort during the last several years in our attempts to sway the Board of Trustees to make some inflationary adjustments to the old plan recipients." One recipient was ebullient in his appreciation. "Dear Mr. Roetman: Three cheers for the MSU Retirees Club!!! Please accept our thanks for the fantastic, persistent, fruitful, and magnificent job you and your committee and MSU Administration have done in securing our recent increase in the Old College Plan retirement! At a time when the notion of 'We can out-wait them until there will be too few to matter' could have prevailed, everything came together for our benefit.” A check was enclosed. Another writer expressed her gratitude "for your work in securing the raise for those like me under the old pension plan .... I know the effort you made and persistence it took to effect this change" (Roetman files, 1990).

Unfortunately, the expenditure of time and effort had to be renewed yet again, as no further moves were made by the Board of Trustees to increase pensions, while the cost of living continued to climb. For two years there was a replay of previous attempts to wrest some consideration from the administration. There were still 540 pensioners living on between $211 to $367 per month, a level well below the poverty level. President Don Polin renewed the Association's plea "for cost of living adjustments to these pitifully low pensions for these elderly retirees who gave so much to the University during the 1930's, 40's and into the 50's. Salaries were low during those early years (a professor was paid $2,000 per year and staff members less) ... few people were in a position to accumulate for a retirement." John Roetman, who was the chairman of the committee on pension plans, determined that there is "a surplus in the UNCRP account that could accommodate a modest one-time extra payment to help offset the 15% rise in cost of living since the last UNCRP pension increase in 1990" (SSC v. 17, #1, 1995). After a bit more foot dragging on the part of the administration, MSURA' s local newsletter was able to trumpet in a special flyer that a resolution had been approved to increase UNCRP income by 15% by January 1996, “only the second increase since 1975. We will continue to monitor this outdated pension plan yearly and will work towards improving it for all Retirees as best we can. Signed Your Pension Committee: Don Polin Pres., John Roetman. Comm. Chair, George Dike, Harold Davidson, Walker Hill."

In the fall of 1992 a member of the Retirees Club, Gordon Guyer, who had served at Michigan State for 45 years, was named interim president of the University following the departure of John DiBiaggio for Tufts University. As the newsletter put it, "The Retirees Club is staying flexible as regards Gordon Guyer's membership." The new semester system debuted on September 1 and students began arriving "like confused ducks in early migration," in Jorgensen's words. Plans were announced for a 1992-93 series of workshops to begin on November 1. Members had been asked if they would be interested in such an undertaking and some interest was .expressed in several topics: Living Arrangements, Personal Services, The Big Five Documents, and Estate Tax and Legal Planning (lcl SSC, v. IV, #2, 1992). The first topic was presented as a "Workshop on Senior Housing Options" on November 9 following the monthly meeting.

In November of 1993 President Harold Davidson named nine members to a long-range planning committee to examine and make recommendations concerning several areas, especially the following: the quality of service being extended to the University by the Retirees Club, the Club constitution and by-laws, the two newsletters, current finances and anticipated cash flow, and a new or revised mission statement (see appendix). Members comprising the committee were Pat Ralston, John Roetman, Gene Dice, Larry Summers, Erling Jorgensen, Chitra Smith, Clella Dickenson, Louis Twardzik and Clarence Hansen (SSC, v.14, #2, 1993). Proposed new by-laws and a mission statement were submitted for approval by the members at the meeting held in October 1994. The name of the organization was changed to the MSU Retirees Association. Starting September 1, 1994 dues were raised to $5.00 annually, partly to cover increased costs of preparing and mailing the newsletters, but, also, as then-President Clarence Hansen pointed out “because we are 'living' on the generosity of those who have paid their dues in advance" (SSC,v 16, #1, p.6). Pat Ralston, as a result of the long range planning, suggested the appointment of "a committee on committees, a committee on finance, the establishment of a foundation to take care of Association needs, and a committee to work with the MSU Federal Credit Union, the University and the Association for the benefit of employees."

In the spring of 1993, Ralston reported on a joint effort of the Retirees Club and Human Resources Services to inform MSU support staff of post retirement opportunities existing for them on campus either as volunteers or for pay. Director Denise Anderton issued a statement calling attention to such opportunities as the Retirees Service Corps, Office Services for temporary work, or on-call, temporary, off-date or regular duty with former departments. At about the same time a group from the Club's long range planning committee assisted then-President Gordon Guyer and Interim Provost Lou Anna Simon in revising the Faculty Handbook to encourage emeritus faculty to lend their professional skills to the service of the University, thereby enriching both their own retirement years and contributing to the resources of the University. It was hoped that the revision might also alert academic units to the availability of this under-utilized source of expertise (SSC, v. 14, #3, p.7).

President Davidson also announced establishment of a Spartan Senior Citizen Award to be made annually to a retiree whose voluntary activities benefited the University and local, state, and international communities (SSC, v.14, #2, 1993). The first retiree to be honored was Ruth Jameyson on May 20, 1993, in the Hannah Ballroom. Ms. Jameyson had been a notable mover and shaker in the Club Association from the time of her retirement as secretary to two presidents of the University in 1969. She was cited for her outstanding service to the Retirees Service Corps and the Department of Human Resources, and to "Countless Retirees and Their Families" (SSC, v.14, #3, 1993).

Two persons, Walker Hill, Professor Emeritus of Education, and John Roetman, formerly Director of University Apartments, received the second award jointly on May 9, 1994. Both had served as President and Vice President of the Club among other things and Walker served many years as the United Way chair, while Roetman was for several years director of the Retirees Corps. Among the many laudatory comments on their long years of service to MSU, Walker Hill was noted as "the one person who knew how to keep the Club progressing and tied all loose ends together .... " and John Roetman was cited for "his leadership in negotiating to improve retirees' benefits under the old non-contributory plan ...” (SSC, v.15, #3, 1994).

Clella Dickinson won the Volunteer of the Year Award in 1995. Ms. Dickinson served both as secretary and treasurer of the Retirees Association, following a long career in the MSU Business Office from which she retired in 1977. "As an officer of the Retirees Association she had the important responsibility of maintaining a membership roster as well as keeping financial records. Walker Hill wrote, "It’s hard to imagine how this organization could function without her. Through countless hours of devoted attention she has maintained the fiscal well-being of the Association." In 1966 the honor was awarded to Russell Hill. The lengthy citation of his contributions read in part "Because of his hard work, his ideas, his perseverance and his knowledge of health benefit needs, retirees gained benefits parallel to those of active employees. At the same time ... he has served on numerous MSURA committees and has been a faithful and cheerful volunteer in many Association events" (SSC, v. 17, #3, 1996).

The Big Ten Retirees Club was the subject of discussion at a Board of Directors meeting on April 13, 1992. It was decided to accept an invitation from the Ohio State University to a meeting of Big Ten representatives of retiree groups, and $100 was allocated to send Erling Jorgensen, editor of the national newsletter, to that meeting on August 31-September 1. Upon his return, Jorgensen submitted a detailed report on the proceedings and the many differences which existed among the eight associations which had attended, particularly in the area of funding. He touched upon the topics which were to preoccupy the participants at all subsequent meetings. Five of the group, including MSU, had affiliations with TIAA/CREF which was managing retirement funds more efficiently than those who were part of state pension plans. Also, some of the other universities had separate groups of retirees - faculty and staff - which seemed not to serve either group so effectively. Jorgensen observed that while MSUs financial, medical and other benefits were generally better than those at other institutions, improvements needed to be made, perhaps by working more closely with the University in an effort to influence state and national legislative actions that would be beneficial to retirees. Inasmuch as the differences among the groups were so marked it was determined that a survey of all the organizational patterns should be made and distributed to all participants (Memo, E. Jorgensen to President Davidson. SSC, Vol. 14, #1, 1992).

The Big Ten met again in 1993 at the University of Michigan. The group concerned itself with the impact of mandatory retirement on erstwhile employees, and the question of whether retirees' associations and their institutions might be liable for their volunteer activities. Some of the attendees were quite impressed by post retirement policies at MSU. Erling Jorgensen again represented the MSURA at the meeting and brought back the suggestion that MSU might look at travel and educational coursework opportunities which were being offered by some of the universities' endowment programs to serve retirees with special needs (SSC, v15, #1, 1993). He also reported on discussions of Working Retirement Options and Post Retirement Opportunities, and the question of affiliating with the Committee for Inter-institutional Cooperation (CIC) already existing among their universities. In reporting to the Board of Directors, he suggested that it would be desirable for both the president and vice president of the Retirees Club to attend future "Big Ten" meetings. (Minutes, B/D, 7/10/93)

The Big Ten next met at the University of Minnesota in 1994 and dubbed themselves the "Big Eleven Retirees Association" after the inclusion of Pennsylvania State University into the organization. Vice President Don Polin attended the meeting, at which member dues were discussed. Many of the Big Eleven associations charged more than the MSU contingent, some as much as ten or fifteen dollars (SSC, v.16, #1, 1994). A need to improve communications among the associations was also discussed along with the usual extensive range of topics. It was arranged to meet next at Michigan State University. That meeting convened in the Nisbet Building on August 28-29 of 1995 and was chaired by President Don Polin. The group was addressed by Keith Groty on the subject of retirees’ benefits and by MSURA committee chairs and other organizations dealing with retirees’ concerns. As always, outdated pension programs, a problem shared by many of the associations, were a principle topic. Tax exempt endowment plans to which member contributions could be made was discussed as a way to address financial problems experienced by some of the associations. A University of Michigan survey comparing the various ways in which each institution handled given services was distributed among the delegates, who discussed ways in which cooperation among the campuses might be achieved.

Again in 1996, President Don Polin, with Pat Ralston and Fred Wickert, attended the Big Eleven meeting at Purdue University, Polin's fourth. He reported in the fall newsletter that the main topic of conversation was one of concern to all the associations, how to keep members as dues payers. However, he was able to state at the same time that the MSURA was not doing too badly after a recent drive for new members. The assets totaled $11,202 as compared to the balance 40 years before of $55 and some stamps and to the previous year when there was only $5,309 in the coffers.

The programs scheduled for each monthly meeting were, to some extent, the glue which kept the organization growing in numbers and improving in sophistication. It would be impossible to enumerate the many topics that were explored year after year nor the host of speakers who entertained or informed the members. A program committee directed by the Vice President had been established early on to handle what was in fact a major element in the Club's agenda. Vice President Eugene Dice announced in a newsletter column in the fall of 1995 that the Board of Directors had decided on a new format in which all programs in a season would follow a common theme, with the vice president making arrangements for speakers for each meeting. The theme for the 1995-96 meetings was to be "Health Resources for Retirees," starting out with a talk by Dean Marilyn Rothert of the College of Nursing, then followed by speakers on Travel Opportunities, the MSU Medical Center, Ligament Repair, Long-term Health Care, Food Safety, Nutrition, Medical Benefits, and on May 13 the Annual Retirees' Recognition Luncheon to be addressed by MSU Board Chairman Dr. Russell Mawby. This was the luncheon at which the volunteer of the year and MSURA's new officers were presented.

The MSURA Board of Directors decided in November 1995 to alter the way in which monthly programs were managed, partly to relieve the Vice President of some of the duties which impinged upon his work with the President. At an MSURA meeting on November 13, President Don Polin presented an amendment to the by-laws, replacing the statement "Regular meetings shall be held monthly from October through May at times and places designated by the Board of Directors" with the statement "There shall be a Program Committee with a Program Chairman responsible for providing programs at times and places supported by the Board of Directors" (In 1995-96 Minutes, Bd/Dir).

The amendment was adopted, and Pat Ralston was named Program Chair. He summarized the activities planned for 1996-97 in a memo to all MSURA program planning groups, Board of Directors, and key participants, in which he listed eight monthly programs and speakers, seven seminars and workshops, and special initiatives planned for the academic year. The Initiatives were: continuation of MSURA Investment Club, directed by Bill Thomas and Henry Kennedy; institution of the Pre-Retirement Program for MSU employees, with Keith Groty and staff; Learning for Mature Living; computer training; TAP; implementation of new policies facilitating employment after retirement; and on-going support of the MSURA travel program (lcl, SSC, v. VIII, #1, 1996).

A Travel/Tourism committee, headed by Louis Twardzik, was appointed as a consequence of conversations at earlier Big Ten meetings and was asked to investigate the practicality of forming a travel service. Other members of the committee were Milton Steinmueller, Shig Honn, Fred Graham and Alan Sliker. A survey was sent out in the fall of 1994 to determine the travel preferences of members. There were 180 responses, with the majority favoring trips to Traverse City, the UP, and Mackinac Island (lcl, v. VI, #7, 1995), but the first several trips were out of state. Toronto and Costa Rica were sell-outs, Sicily and a Mississippi River trip were scheduled next, then Vermont, Quebec and Ontario in May of 1996, and finally a day trip to Kalamazoo to see 42nd Street. Then offshore, more or less: trips were scheduled for the Panama Canal, Hong Kong, Turks and Caicos Islands, (on-shore) Grand Canyons of North America; Branson, Mo; and then 12 days through Switzerland, Germany and Austria. There was a very popular Kenya Safari in November 1996. At this writing tours have been scheduled to Scandinavian capitals (aboard the Norwegian Crown, at $3,290 including air from Michigan) from London to the Kiel Canal, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo, and Copenhagen. A tour of English gardens led by Harold Davidson was planned for May 1998. Also scheduled was a series of monthly trips to casinos in Michigan and Canada and a fall color and geological tour of the Upper Peninsula (SSC, v.18, #2, 1997). The travel arrangements made by the committee were received with general approbation. President Don Polin said he would give Group Travel Experiences, the agency selected by the travel committee, a nine on a 1 to 10 basis, after traveling to Toronto with its tour in 1996. He was impressed both by the efficiency of the tour guide, Lauralea Campbell, and by the bargain cost, considering that theater tickets were $66 each and hotel rooms were $180 per person (lcl, v. VII, #3, 1996). The 1997-98 schedule included Stratford (Canada), Ireland, Agawa Canyon color tour, Erie Canal cruise, Chicago investment trip, an Hawaiian cruise, Chicago theater weekend, a Christmas cruise to the West Indies and, finally, a trip to Sorrento, Italy in March of 1998.

New ideas suggested by Association members were received with interest, discussed at length, and very often culminated in a program or a class or a special undertaking which would be beneficial or entertaining for retirees or the University or would enable them to perform useful services to others (“New Initiatives" above). In 1992 Frank Mossman and Axel Andersen invited retirees to join in a new MSU Retirees Golf League beginning in May, for two days a week - ''just show up and play.” The result was an informal Retirees Golf Happening on May 9, which recurred through the years at the golfers' pleasure (v. 13, #3, p. 3). At a Board meeting in April of 1993, the long range planning committee recommended consideration of establishment of relationships with other organizations in order to strengthen efforts to improve the well-beings of retirees. Several organizations were mentioned: The Tri-County Office on Aging, Michigan Office of Services to the Aging, Citizens for Better Care, Lansing Aging Network Organizations, and the AARP. At the September meeting of the Board in 1995, Mary Zehner introduced a discussion on the feasibility of an endowment fund for retirees similar to those extant at other Big Eleven retiree associations. Questions to resolve were "how can we work with the University," "how much money do retirees contribute to MSU," and "how would we use the money from such a fund?" The premise would be that the fund would be tax-free. Ms. Zehner and Clella Dickinson agreed to find the answers.

"Learning for Mature Living" was one of the products of a summer of planning special initiatives by Pat Ralston and Mike Kelsey. It was an effort to create opportunities for retirees to participate in various constructive outlets such as, evening college, lectures and travels, Elderhostels, and Wharton Center programming, to name a few. The local edition of the newsletter (October 1996) printed a special article by D. Gordon Rohman. retired Professor of English and Lifelong Education, exploring the possibilities and pointing the way. Seminars in learning for mature living were conducted in November and December of 1996 and January of 1997. Fred Wickert listed the myriad opportunities which existed in the East Lansing area in one year, primarily at the Bailey Community Center and the Valley or Hillside Court. At the former, East Lansing Recreation and Arts (ELRA) sessions were offered on computers, cooking, finance, foreign languages, health and well being, the outdoors, personal growth, and writing. Trips were available. Valley Court offered discussions on books and music, health (a physician in attendance), local long-term care, crises in Christian history, painting and stained glass laboratories, and a 55-alive training course for drivers. A number of enriching programs were presented by MSU retirees, such as Christian History by Fred Graham and Music Appreciation by Fred Wickert (lcl, SSC, v. VIII, #3, 1996-97).

For several years Pat Ralston had been concerned about preparing retirees for retirement at MSU. A paper, "Moving Ahead - An Exciting Life of Choices" (see appendix), was prepared in September of 1995. This was followed by random personal surveys and interviews with top administrators, department heads and individuals from faculty and support staff by Larry Sommers, Glenn Johnson and Pat Ralston. A questionnaire was developed with Sherry VanKampen and others from Human Resources for obtaining specific information and ascertaining concerns of each employee at the time of individual retirement regarding counseling by Human Resources. These data and all appropriate references were presented to Asst. Provost Robert F. Banks and Asst. Vice President Keith Groty of Human Resources in the fall of 1996 with the suggestion that MSURA develop a pre-retirement education program. Dr. Groty responded favorably to the proposal, but decided that Human Resources should undertake the project. A pre-retirement education program committee was set up in the Retirees Association, with Fred Wickert, Don Polin, Lou Twardzik, Charlie Downs, Rosemary Pavlick, and Rebecca Berry Jost of Human Resources, to help formulate a pre-retirement orientation program. Rebecca Jost then undertook to develop an appropriate course under the supervision of Keith Groty. A book highly recommended for the course was "The Best of Retirement Planning," edited by Marion E. Haynes, which covered planning retirement courses, finance, insurance, lifestyles, where to retire and professional resources. Pat Ralston, chair of health resources, also expressed some thoughts on Six Critical Incidents of Senior Life which were published in the Fall 1995 newsletter. These "incidents occur at random, thus causing major life style adjustments. They are 1) retirement, 2) familial changes, 3) personal health, 4) changes in housing, 5) financial security, and 6) rights and advocacy ("Our individual and collective rights require continual review for insuring a high quality of life.") "It is my opinion that the members of the MSURA strongly believe that education and practical experience are the media for responsible change .. .If retirees will plan thoughtfully in advance and practice appropriate procedures they can create a 'soft landing' for a positive, enjoyable senior adulthood."

The idea of providing investment guidance for retirees was translated into an investment Club directed by Bill Thomas and Henry Kennedy, which met at the Credit Union community room every third Wednesday of the month during the academic year (SSC, v.18, #1, 1996). In 1996 Dick Chapman and Ted Haskell began setting up a computer class to introduce retirees into the computer age. The objective was to demonstrate the usefulness of computers to persons of all ages. The first class was held in the University Computer Center on November 14 and 18, for a fee of $54 (lcl, SSC, v VI, #5). Mary Zehner initiated a project to have member-designed tee shirts printed up for sale. A contest was held to find the best-looking logo for the shirts, with Vice President Fred Wickert acting as chair of the judging committee. The winners announced in the winter 1997 edition of the newsletter were William and Barbara Wiseman of St. Johns, who won free shirts as prizes. The logo chosen was a sketch of the Beaumont Tower with a large evergreen tree standing just in front of it, dark green on an ask colored shirt.

The most recent issue of the Spartan Senior Citizen, Lansing edition (May 1997), typifies the active involvement of the members each month of every academic year in matters concerning retirees and the University. It begins with the President's Message, in this case from retiring President Donald Polin, who warns that national actions "could put us again with a low Treasury ... meaning we may have to resort to an increase in dues, additional ways of funding the newsletters, a lesser number of reports, or an increase in membership." The latter solution, of course, results in more clout for the Association and "allows for a larger pool of helpers when the University asks us to assist... I am requesting that you give the next group of officers that you elect at the May meeting all of your cooperation. If asked to assist at some function, willingly accept the responsibility.” The meeting, set for May 12, was to feature the Spartan Senior Citizen Volunteer Award presentation, election of officers. and an address by Vice President Keith Groty of Human Resources. East Lansing Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Dan Keck, was scheduled to discuss the daunting challenges facing public education in the nineties. There was a plea to "pay your dues" and a familiar appeal from the Red Cross for blood donors and workers. A rather lengthy list of recently deceased retirees was published, a not unusual feature in later issues, and thanks were extended to the numerous volunteers who helped prepare the newsletter for mailing. Finally, there was a notice that more knitters were needed to make clothing and robes for the needy. Assistant Office Manager Rosemary Pavlik "will deliver knitted items to the American Red Cross," And finally, "HAVE A GREAT SUMMER!"