Golden Tigers celebrate 40 years

Golden Tigers logoStarting in 1974 under the leadership of Mary Margaret Williams, the Institute of Lifetime Learning (now Golden Tigers) provided a successful enrichment program for senior citizens.

Now 40 years later, under the direction of Margaret Neal, the program is still going strong for women and men age 50 and over. A special anniversary celebration was held Thursday, May 1 at 11:30 a.m. at Cowley College to honor the Golden Tigers.

The program has continued to grow over the years and today offers many educational opportunities for older adults in Cowley and surrounding counties. Margaret Neal has served as the program coordinator for the Golden Tigers since 1997. She and Mary Margaret Williams are the only two program coordinators in the history of the program.

As an honor to her devotion and service to the program, the Mary Margaret Williams Award was established in 2004. The award recognizes individuals who have provided outstanding service to the Golden Tigers.

Previous recipients of the award are: Chris Englis, Carrisco McGibra, Darlene Brown, Myrtle Bly, Juanita Barkley, Dorthea Barkley, Conrad Jimison, Ruth Bedell, Bill and Tommye Stewart, Stu Osterthun,  Margaret Neal, Ruth Weston, Barbara Hettenbach, Jack Givens, Alice Hunt, Joann Sheldon, Janice Stover, Edward Greene, Larry Schwintz, and Tom McClaflin.

The Cowley College Golden Tigers program provides educational opportunities that promote social, spiritual, artistic, and physical enrichment to its members. Short-term classes, hands-on workshops, exercise sessions, and enlightening trips are offered throughout the year. Neal said the program continues to grow with between 22-25 classes and 3-4 trips offered each semester. It is a great way to allow participants to keep active, meet new people, learn new skills, and travel.

Jeanie Campbell of Winfield is among the more than 150 individuals participating in classes through the Golden Tiger program this spring. Campbell is taking a Cards & More class as well as a Sharing Foods & Recipes class.

She, along with her husband, Carrol, are also enrolled to take part in the annual Mystery Trip.

“It’s a way to meet new people and learn new skills,” Campbell said. “There are really a nice variety
of classes offered.”

Long-time Cowley employees, Wanda and Larry Schwintz, have been involved with the Golden Tigers since their retirement in 2006. Larry serves on the advisory board and also shares his technology expertise by teaching a variety of computer classes.

Wanda participates in several enrichment classes each semester and travels with Larry on many of
the Golden Tiger vacations and day trips. Wanda feels this is a way for her to keep learning and also

Neal is proud to offer so many educational trips and activities through the Golden Tigers program. The program has offered cruises to New England, Canada, and Alaska, while other memorable trips have included seeing theatre productions of “Damn Yankees” in Bartlesville, OK and “Bloody Kansas” in Lecompton.

“We have traveled to some really interesting places and have seen some incredible plays and concerts,” Neal said.

A recent trip to Fort Scott, Kansas made us aware of an incredible woman’s courage during the Holocaust. “Life in a Jar”, the Irena Sendler’s story, will be presented in the Fall, 2014 at Cowley College as a result of this experience.

“The fact that the program has survived this long tells me people have gained something from the program activities,” Neal said. “We try to add classes that fill a need. It is exciting to still be inexistence
after 40 years and we hope to be here a lot longer.”

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