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The Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging celebrates older adults over age 85 celebrates and honors older adults who embody the Institute’s vision for a world where all older adults lead engaged and flourishing lives. These individuals are recognize by their community as outstanding models of optimal aging in the following areas: physical, social, spiritual, and creative. Winners are separated into individual and couples categories


Previous Recipients: 2014    2016


Current Recipients: 2017

Kenton and Rhu Hayes, 90 and 86: Outstanding Couple

Coming from rural Kentucky families, Mr. and Ms. Hayes represented character and confidence in their vision for their community. They founded and sold their insurance business. Mr. Hayes served as a trustee at his alma mater, the University of Louisville, and he was one of the principal founders of Treyton Oak Towers. Always active, they played golf together with friends until Mr. Hayes’ physical ailments, then dementia, began two years ago. Ms. Hayes has made a visible and caring, yet difficult, transition to full-time caretaker, nurse and companion, while still being active in her role as a leader at church and at Treyton Oak Towers. They have not let age or its difficulties reduce the pleasure of life together in service to their city.

James Flynn, 87: Outstanding Individual

Although officially retired, this former pastor of several churches in Louisville continues to do substitute work preaching on the weekends and leading workshops on issues of justice and the environment. He has learned Spanish, and continues to minister to the Hispanic community in Louisville. Mr. Flynn continues to be active about issues of social justice, not just locally, but also in Central America, where he has traveled many times. He participated in Witness for Peace and enjoys walking, hiking and bicycling. He is active in several book discussions groups and has developed a PowerPoint presentation about Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment.

Margaret “Peg” Horrigan, 86: Outstanding Individual

After she moved to Louisville, Ms. Horrigan re-enrolled in graduate school at Indiana University, where she pursued an MBA in Arts Management. She became the first volunteer coordinator for the Louisville Orchestra. For the past 16 years, she has volunteered for the Bellarmine Women’s Council as treasurer, financial secretary, by-laws chairman, yearbook editor, and in other roles and was elected first vice president and volunteer coordinator. Since Ms. Horrigan’s retirement from the work world, she has given her time to volunteer service informed by a sense of spirituality. Her daily regimen includes taking vitamins and probiotics, walking and mental exercise on a personal computer.

Dr. Stuart Urbach, 91: Compassion Award

Dr. Urbach is often volunteering at any opportunity to work with UofL medical students, and had been teaching history and physical exam skills to about 60 medical students per year. He is known for often asking, “What else can I help with?” When the Palliative Care service at UofL Hospital was shorthanded, Dr. Urbach took it upon himself to read multiple books and attend related events in order to learn as much as he could to cover the palliative care service two days per week. Dr. Urbach also finds time to pledge support to social issues. On Jan. 21, he took a whirlwind trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the Women’s March on Washington, along with his daughter, Kathy. During the 1990s, Dr. Urbach was a board member of the Louisville chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Dr. Thomas Crawford, 86: Education and Advocacy Award

Dr. Crawford has served on numerous university and community committees, including the board of directors at Christian Church Homes of Kentucky, an Earth Day committee, Kentucky Conservation Foundation, Kentucky Science & Engineering Fair, and several Chamber of Commerce subcommittees. During his UofL professorship, he created “CheMystery Show,” a program of chemistry experiments. It spanned over 42 years and entertained 100,000 audience members. In July 1998, he officially retired from UofL, but still became involved in the University’s Outreach Office to continue speaking engagements. His teaching awards include his induction into the Manual High School Hall of Fame, the Inaugural class of the University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences, and the Community Engagement Hall of Fame.

Theodore “Ted” Bickel, Sr., 88: Fine Arts Award

The doctor who delivered Mr. Bickel told his father that Mr. Bickel would only live four days due to heart issues. When he was 86, both his wife of 67 years and his 64-year-old daughter (who lived with him) passed away rather suddenly. He has also recently lost his only son. Mr. Bickel has faced adversity, but instead of giving up on life, he became even more involved. He began eating lunch at the metro East Senior Nutrition Center, where he plays cards and makes trips to the circus, Mike Lennings, Derby parties and Churchill Downs. He continues to sing with the Silver Notes, the Masonic choirs, and church choir. He enjoys working out at the Wellness Center. He is supportive of his 2 grandsons, and looks forward to the birth of his first great grandchild in October.

Mary Bischof, 89: Fine Arts Award

Ms. Bischof is an active and creative 89-year-old and always has a “To Do List.” As a result, she gets up early every day and starts by saying prayers for special intentions. She always takes one day every week to clean her house and usually also has some repair or alteration project to do for a family member or friend. Then the rest of the time, which according to her is never enough, she gets to work on her hobbies. Ms. Bischof’s hobbies include sewing and making porcelain dolls. She started sewing her children’s clothes, and progressed to prom, wedding, and Christening gowns. She does it all for her dolls, which she often gives away as gifts. In addition to pouring the porcelain in molds, firing the kiln, and painting the dolls, she makes the historic and intricate costume appropriate to each doll.

Marjorie Moorman Cox, 98: Fitness Award

Ms. Cox has been active all her life. She grew up on a farm, taught school, kept house and has been a lifelong expert gardener. After retiring, Marjorie worked at Farmington historic home and kept the garden at her church for over 30 years. She is a good cook and eats a varied and healthy diet with an emphasis on vegetables. She exercises at Milestone Wellness center 3-4 times a week and enjoys excellent health.

Charles Riley, 94: Fitness Award

It was August 1943 and Mr. Riley was serving in the US Army, participating in the Anzio Beach landing and the liberation of Rome in Italy. That didn’t deter him from calling his mother and asking her to deliver a letter of proposal, an orchid and an engagement ring to his girlfriend, Jean Davis, who accepted. Mr. Riley graduated from Quantico and was appointed special agent of the FBI in 1949. This may be from where he picked up such incredible discipline. Mr. Riley works out at Milestone Wellness five days (sometimes six) per week from 9 am- 11 am.  His two hour routine includes 2 miles on the treadmill, 2 miles on the bicycle, the weight room workout and of course, socializing with friends.

George and Mary Fischer, 85: Innovation Award - Couple

This couple has been civically engaged all of their lives. As a young married couple, they brought meals on wheels to elderly. Their son says that their value was, and still is, “If you can help somebody, help them. It’s just the right thing to do.” Later in their life, they founded the Kentucky Governor’s Scholar Program and School Choice Scholarships, to help provide education to those who are underprivileged. They also founded the Interfaith Paths to Peace, Festival of Faiths, and Louisville’s Family Community Clinic. They haven’t and have no plans to stop championing the needs of others, no matter their age.

Ramona Clifton, 93: Innovation Award - Individual

Throughout her life, Ms. Clifton has carried her values of learning, hard work, and helping others. She has also always done things her own way. By becoming a doctor of optometry, she was one of only three female optometrists in Kentucky. She is also an active community member of Christian Care Communities’ Louisville Chapel House, which her husband built to provide a continuum of care for older adults. She is a friend to everyone living at Chapel House, staying in daily contact with her neighbors and friends. One Christian Care employee said, “Standing next to her, I just feel her love.”

Simon “Si” Wolf, 86: Love Conquers All Award

A quote from Mr. Wolf’s girlfriend: “He was in a bridge group that I was in. I saw how wonderful he was with his wife, and how he reached out to help others. As my husband had died 6 years ago, a few months after his wife passed, I asked if we could go out as friends. He was delighted. Today he is my boyfriend. Si is very important in my life.” After his time in Korea, Mr. Wolf became a pharmacist and even ran his own pharmacy for 20 years. He bowls on a team with his son and enjoys dancing and reading.

Jane Blakely, 92: Technology and Continuous Learning Award

Ms. Blakely was born in 1925, just before the Great Depression. She has seen it all, and has continued to grow with her ever-changing environment. When you consider how many changes she has seen in technology over the course of her lifetime, it is a marvel that she remains agile and continues to embrace changes in technology. In her 80’s, Jane received a Smartphone as a gift. She set about learning to use it. In her 90’s, she continues to text and use apps to stay connected with family and friends. A few months ago, she received an Amazon Echo as a Christmas gift and is busy teaching “Alexa” how to do things.

Robert McCormack, 89: Technology and Continuous Learning Award

In addition to being in excellent physical form, Mr. McCormack has successfully embraced 2 new jobs in the last decade. The first of these jobs involved delivering newspapers in the morning, no matter the weather. His last job at H&R Block required the acquisition of a new set of computer skills, which he aced with ease. He stays engaged and current. Mr. McCormack lives a full life.

Roy Leon Ricketts, 92: UofL Spirit Award

Mr. Ricketts was born to serve. He enlisted in the army in 1942 because “he wanted to serve his country.” He did just that for three years (1942-1945). He was stationed in the Pacific Theatre - where he earned five bronze stars. He has volunteered with Louisville East Community Development Corporation to build affordable homes. For the past 60 years, he has had an active leadership role in his church. For about as long, he has been a season ticket holder for men’s football and basketball. He delivers meals to homebound seniors, does various clerical projects for SeniorCare Experts, and assists with food distribution for St. Matthew Area Ministries.

Rose Mary and Lawrence Toebbe, 90 and 86: UofL Spirit Award

Mr. and Ms. Toebbe cheerfully and beautifully enjoy culture, fine dining (which includes the occasional Skyline chili dog!) and graceful living. The couple are active alumni and dine at the University Club so often that the waiter knows to bring their preferred drinks as soon as he sees them walk in. They often attend shows, ballets, operas, orchestras, and other interesting events which fulfill their desire to support local culture, civic activities and businesses. They also support a former 2014 Bell Award recipient, Ms. Toebbe has long been a key leader with Goodwill Industries and the AAUW. Mr. and Ms. Toebbe became close after each of their spouses had passed away. It took courage to begin a new life together and to allow themselves to love and live as happily and for as long as they can.

Norma June Danks Lewis, 95: Veteran Award

As a female World War II veteran, Ms. Lewis began her lifetime of service at a very young age. She was raised by her hearing impaired Aunt and Uncle. She learned American Sign Language and quickly became their link to communication in the world. Her family told her “good girls don’t join the military.” This inspired Ms. Lewis to enlist at the age of 19. She has traveled extensively. She followed her son who was a drummer in several famous bands and she accompanied several famous people as a sign language interpreter. She accompanied Robert Kennedy as he traveled through Appalachia, interpreted for President Bill Clinton, and provided services for former U.S. Representative Ron Mazzoli. Norma has said, “I could do so much for so many. That’s a gift. I will share this gift ‘til the day I drop dead.”

Dr. Martin Steiner, 92: Veteran Award

Exhibiting a desire to serve people and his country, Dr. Steiner has enjoyed a dental career which is now in its seventh decade. His dental career began as a Dental Assistant in the Navy during WWII. After attending Dental School at NYU, Dr. Steiner served in the Army Dental Corps during the Korean conflict. After the Korean War, he obtained specialty training in Oral Surgery at the Columbia University School of Dentistry. He served as an Army Dental Corps Reservist and is also a Vietnam War veteran. Dr. Steiner is one of the few Veterans alive today who served in WWII, in Korea, and in Vietnam.

June Kash, 85: Workplace Sage Award

After a distinguished and award-filled career in government, she retired from the United States Attorney’s Office in 2000, at the age of 68. Two years later, she joined Furman & Nilsen Law Firm as a part time legal assistant. This year, she will be celebrating fifteen years at Furman & Nilsen. She is a valuable team member who drafts letters and medical requests, follows up with medical providers for records, handles clients contacts as needed, keeps schedules, keeps control of the stock room and orders supplies, serves as the receptionist, and handles coordinating payroll. She has also been a long-time hospital volunteer.

Wilhemina Glass, 106: Years of Wisdom Award

Ms. Glass is among the longest living Prairie View A&M University alumni. Ms. Glass has fond memories of her years at Prairie View. Her most cherished memory is meeting her first husband, Richard Jess Brown, who was a faculty member and became a Civil Rights attorney. The couple moved to Kentucky in the 1940’s and married soon after. In Kentucky, she broke barriers within the hospitals and corporate nursing facilities. She worked in Jewish Hospital and in the Red Cross Hospital. Her final nursing position was as an industrial nurse at the Brown and Williams Tobacco Company before retiring in 1973. Today, she still has strong opinions and reads her bible daily. It will come to no surprise that she is the longest living member of Mt. Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church.

Louise Grant, 100: Years of Wisdom Award

Ms. Grant celebrated her 100th birthday on Jan. 19, 2017. She works at her church 3 days a week, working on the church archives, attending choir practice, and minding the library (named after her). She takes seriously the Biblical call to be good stewards, and her stewardship has included serving on St. Andrew’s first church council; and subsequently, she served on five or more councils. She’s traveled to all 50 states and 14 countries and has photo albums for all these trips. She has regularly taken conversational French lessons and has been working with computers for 16 years.

Ruthie Williams, 100: Years of Wisdom Award

In addition to being blessed with, “good genes,” Ms. Williams continues to learn and practice a lifestyle which we have come to recognize as beneficial for optimal health and longevity. She lives alone, does her own cooking, housework, works in her yard and garden, and drives herself wherever she needs to go. At age 92, she discovered yoga, which she dearly loves. Years ago, Ms. Williams studied at Parson’s School of Design in New York’s Greenwich Village and for many after, she had her own interior design business. She is an active gardener and bibliophile.



Click here to view the bios of all the Nominees & Awardees in 2017