Author to speak at OLLI Founders' Day Lecture May 17

April 16, 2012

Karl Pillemer, well-known author of "30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans," will be the speaker for Penn State York’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s (OLLI) first Founders’ Day Lecture set for May 17 in the Conference Center of the Main Classroom Building at the campus. The celebration begins at 11:30 a.m. with a luncheon and social hour followed by the lecture. Tickets are on sale now at $25 for OLLI members and $30 for nonmembers.  For tickets call 717-771-4015 or email OLLI at The deadline for purchase is May 1.

A professor of gerontology in medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical Collage and human development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, Pillemer will speak about his extensive experience as a gerontologist and his relationships with the mature American population. As part of the registration fee for the event, attendees will receive a copy of his book and Pillemer will be available for a book-signing.

The Legacy Project that began in 2004 gave Pillemer the opportunity to collect responses from America’s elders to the question, “What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?” People from across the country in their 70s and beyond shared their wisdom for living.

Their advice ranges from how to be happy on a day-to-day basis, the secrets to a successful marriage, tips on raising children, ways to have a fulfilling career, strategies for dealing with illness and loss, and how to grow old fearlessly and well. Pillemer wrote his book based on this project and it was named to the “Best Self-Help Books of 2011” by Library Journal.

Based on his work, Pillemer is the perfect speaker for OLLI’s first Founders’ Day Lecture. The OLLI group hopes the Founders’ Day Lecture will become an annual event.

The Founders’ Day event honors the work of OLLI founders Charmaine Kissinger, Olive Padden, and the late Gussie Petron, three women who were bored and ready to make more of their retirement. Their mantra of “curiosity never retires” and their thirst for knowledge and mental stimulation, led them to gather volunteers and OLLI was born in August 2007 with the first courses offered in April 2008. The group has grown from a handful of people to more than 250 members

OLLI is a nonprofit, volunteer driven organization established to enrich the lives of mature adults living in York County by providing a variety of educational and social enrichment activities. OLLI at Penn State York is one of more than 100 lifelong learning institutes across the nation that is supported by a grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation. The grant was made available locally though Penn State at University Park which also has an OLLI program.

A chance meeting of the trio, who called themselves a cog (Charmaine, Olive, Gussie) in the wheel of learning, at the Jacobus Library was the beginning of what would later become OLLI. They began talking about what could be done to provide adult learners with educational opportunities and more. The idea of offering courses of interest during the day for adult learners without the stress of tests, requirements, and official textbooks appealed to them.

The group met with then continuing education representatives at Penn State York, Bea Landis and Beth Gill-MacDonald, and things began to fall into place. York contacted the University and thanks to some quick hard work, in York was named one of the University’s OLLI sites. Since that time through the hard work of volunteers, OLLI has developed committees, offers courses, has a website, and a newsletter. Penn State York’s OLLI group has a home in the Bradley Building at the campus which houses the Continuing Education Department.  

Stimulating courses are the primary focus of OLLI and recently the group has also added informal coffee klatches and trips to offer more opportunities for members to get together. OLLI courses are taught by volunteers who want to share their expertise and talents including retired Penn State faculty, hobbyists, artists, schoolteachers, and practicing professionals. The six-week classes are offered during the day and are 90 minutes in length. In addition to the six-week classes, there are also other courses which meet a time or two.

To cover costs, OLLI has a $50 yearly membership fee that covers two semesters and a $20 fee for each six-week course taken. Shorter courses are offered at a lower rate. Call 717- 771-4015 (or email to receive registration and activity information. Visit for more information.

  • Dr. Karl Pillemer will speak at OLLI's first Founders' Day Leacture set for May 17 at Penn State York.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 17, 2012