Retirees on learning curve
Written by TARA KELLER Sentinel Staff Writer
Wednesday, 18 December 2013 11:05
Bob and Lee McLaird are technically retired, but they aren't letting that stop them.
|Bob and Lee McLaird at BGSU's Jerome Library. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
For them, retirement means just "tired again" and they're proving that in a big way.
Between remodeling their new house and actively participating in their church, the married couple of 39 years are enrolled in an Early American Horror class at BGSU.
"If I could afford it, I would have been a professional student," said Bob, 70. "I'm not working toward a degree - I'm just having fun."
However, earning degrees is nothing new to the couple.
Lee has undergraduate degrees in Library Science and English and a Master's degree in Library Science from the University of South Dakota.
Bob is much the same with dual undergrad degrees in English and Chemistry, and dual Master's degrees in Library Science and English from the University of South Dakota.
These degrees took them all around the United States, and they finally settled in Bowling Green in 1987 where Lee worked at the Jerome Library as an archivist and Bob worked at the old career library.
"It was fun. I worked for about ten years at a local museum in South Dakota," said Lee, 60. "Then I got pulled into BGSU's main library. Now I'm ready for the next great challenge called retirement."
For Lee, it's a hard challenge. She's used to always working and that rhythm stopped when she retired in January 2013.
"It took me about 12 minutes to adapt," she said. "But we like being busy."
The couple's go-go-go attitude was put to good use when they learned the English department offered a class on Edgar Allan Poe.
Through BGSU's Senior Adult Grants Program (SAGE), Bob and Lee took the class free of charge because of their age and Ohio residency.
Learning about Poe is what originally sparked Bob's interest - he wrote a 179-page thesis on Poe in 12 days in 1982.
"In all my years of schooling, I've never had a course that discussed Edgar Allan Poe," Bob said. "My real interest in literature is where literature and science cross - Poe is a perfect example of that."
The class involved looking at many of Poe's stories and discussing them as a group.
"The kids came up with some surprisingly good comments," Bob said. "I like seeing how other people respond to ideas."
Dr. Allan Emery, the associate professor who teaches the class, thinks the couple comes up with some pretty good ideas of their own.
"They're authorities on the subject and have enthusiasm for literature and discussion," Emery said. "These people are back in school simply for the fun of it and it's a reminder to us all to have fun for fun's sake."
Because Lee interacted with students when she worked in the library's archives, she enjoyed seeing them in a different setting.
"I used to be surrounded by students all the time," Lee said. "It's kind of fun to see them in a classroom."
When they're not telling the class about their theories regarding Poe's story "The Tell-Tale Heart," the couple spends time with their paperback book collection.
They're up to 15,000 books.
"There just aren't enough books to read. I'm not going to die until I read them all," Bob said. "I need to live forever."
Bob and Lee encourage every Ohio resident over 60 to check out a BGSU class.
For them at least, retirement is an opportunity for older people to re-experience younger opportunities.
"You're only as old as you let people think you are," Bob said.
BGSU's SAGE program can be reached at 419 372-8136.