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University of Minnesota Retirees Association
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University of Minnesota Retirees Association.


Monthly Meeting Schedule and Speakers

UMRA’s members gather at 11:30 at the Campus Club, in Conference Room ABC, on the fourth floor of Coffman Union, on the 4th Tuesday of each month, for lunch, good fellowship, and an interesting speaker.

Meeting Reservations Required (see note below)

Reservation Deadline is always the Thursday before the Tuesday meeting

Please phone or email your reservations with your check for $16 for each reservation to:

UMRA Reservations
c/o Judy Leahy Grimes
1937 Palace Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-1728

Or, contact her before the deadline at 651-698-4387 or

Please honor the reservation deadline date; if cancellations are necessary, please let us know by noon the preceding Thursday.

April 22, 2014 Luncheon Meeting

April 22 meeting program features fairy tales, Native humor, and heart disease prevention

The professional Development Grant Program for Retirees (PDGR) initiated by UMRA volunteers in 2009 has completed its sixth cycle of annual awards.

Our April meeting will look at how the retiree grants are yielding both professional discovery and personal meaning. We will hear from a panel of three retirees who have made uniquely creative academic contributions in diverse directions.

All three have been “driven to discover” in retirement, and they will talk about what that means and what they have discovered. Ron Anderson, UMRA past president, will moderate the panel, engaging the panelists
in a conversation related not only to their continuing interests in research, but also to their personal fulfillment in retirement.

Jack ZipesJack Zipes, professor emeritus of German, is a world-renowned expert on fairy tales. He had already published about 50 books when, in 2009, he applied for a PDGR grant to study fairy tales in film. In the past two years he has published seven more books analyzing the history, meaning, and cultural differences related to fairy tales. He argues that fairy tales reveal the gaps between truth and falsehood in a society, and reveal cruelties as well as folk wisdom of many times and places.

Carol MillerThe second panelist, Carol A. Miller, is emeritus associate professor of American Studies and American Indian Studies. She has published dozens of major articles in her field, and in 1996 she received the U’s
Morse-Alumni Distinguished Teaching award. Professor Miller received a PDGR grant in 2012 to study Native author Tthomas King’s “Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour,” which ran on the Canadian Broadcasting Company radio for four seasons between 1997 and 2000. Both the writer and his main characters were Canadian aboriginals. You will hear some Humorous audio clips from the show as well as how her interviews of the writer and actors reveal what the comedy show means for Native americans and their perceptions of the larger society.

Henry BlackburnThe third panelist is Henry Blackburn, professor emeritus of the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health in the School of Public
Health. He was a participant and now is historian of pioneering work on risk and prevention of heart disease centered at the University of Minnesota during the mid-20th century. Professor Blackburn received a PDGR grant in 2009 to complete an archive and a website on 50 years of research on coronary heart disease in populations of Minnesota and contrasting cultures worldwide. He will reflect on the role of epidemiology and research on the social determinants of disease and health of populations as a complement to medical research on unique individuals.

Following brief presentations by the panelists, moderator Ron Anderson will ask panelists to discuss the extent to which retiree research, and research grants, lead to personal fulfillment. The audience will be invited to ask their own questions of the panelists as well.

The April meeting is an opportunity for members to learn more about how continuing research affects retirement.


Mustard-crusted chicken with
spinach pesto, roasted carrots,
onions, beets, and potatoes.
For vegetarian or gluten-free
options, please request when making reservations.

Living Well in Later Life Workshop Follows Luncheon from 1:30 to 2:30 in the same room

April 22 Workshop: “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?”

We all probably have special possessions that have been an important part of our families’ lives—sometimes for many generations. When we want or need to downsize, what happens to those treasured items that may have intrinsic or emotional value?

Van Linck, co-chair of the UMRA Cares Committee, shares her own story. “I was cleaning out things the family hadn’t used or touched for years when I came upon the American Flyer wide gauge train set my late husband had kept since his parents gave it to him in the early 1930s. Thinking that I imight donate it to a train museum, I asked my son about
it. I was surprised—and pleased—when he responded that it was an important memory for him, and he would like to have it and keep it in the family.”

Shirley Barber & Van LinckPassing along personal possessions to family can be an issue for everyone, no matter one’s stage of life. whether planning ahead or making decisions after someone dies, “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?”™ is a program that offers help in guiding us successfully through such intergenerational transfers of personal property.

Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate is a national award-winning program originated by a team at Minnesota Extension.

Our workshop leader, Shirley Barber, is a retired educator with Minnesota Extension. She was the project coordinator for a team of six colleagues who defined the need, conducted the research, and developed educational materials for this helpful program.

At our workshop on April 22, Shirley will discuss six components that are critical to effective decision making in transferring non-titled personal property, along with resources to assist individuals and families in this process. Tthe workshop will include time for sharing stories and discussions that illustrate the ideas and guiding principles.

The Living Well in Later Life workshops are held from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. after the UMRA monthly luncheon. You are welcome to attend this workshop whether or not you attend the luncheon. The workshops are free.
— UMRA Cares and Workshops committees


Note on Reservations:

The January, 2012 lunch featured an exciting opening act followed by a spectacular headliner, Marla Spivak, who talked about bees, delivering charm and education at the same time.

The opening act, however, was sheer improvisational comedy. People kept wandering in from the hallway and claiming to have reservations! Others, already seated, not in on the joke, were patient and polite. A performer impersonating "me" acted puzzled and powerless. Saving the day were the intrepid Campus Club servers —busy as bees, they buzzed around and found chairs and, eventually, food for all.

What did we learn at the January meeting? We learned that honey bees are even more industrious and ingenious than we thought, they are crucial in the food system, and very fortunate to have the loving attention of the likes of Professor Marla Spivak and her students. We all also learned the importance of reservations!!

Perhaps we (your committee and newsletter editor and webmaster) have not been clear in communicating this, but the fact is—even if you plan to pay at the door instead of sending in a check, you must call or e-mail to reserve your place(s) for lunch by the deadline listed on page one. Please! — Frank C. Miller

Frank describes himself as Amateur Reservationist. We describe him as UMRA's Disarming Humorist. Frank would be happy to have reservations assistance at future luncheons. You can reach him at or 612-331-2145.

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Program Committee (2013-14)

Harold Miller (Chair),;
John S Adams;;
Ron Anderson;;
Craig Swan;;
Julie Medbery;;
Cal Kendall;;
John S Anderson,,

The Program Committee is always looking for good speaker ideas. If you have any suggestions, please contact Hal Miller (

Lance Brockman presents

March 25 Speaker Lance Brockman lucidly and animatedly explained the "Theater of the Fraternity" to an attentive umra audience


Lowell Noteboom

On February 25, 2014, Lowell Noteboom very clearly explained the situation of Orchestras including the SPCO and the Minnesota Orchestra -- just weeks after the MOA lockout was settled



Bob Holt applied economic and political history from postwar Germany, Italy, and Britain to help us understand today's world at the January, 2014 Luncheon


Deborah Swackhamer

Deborah Swackhamer shared what we know and still need to know about Minnesota's water at the final meeting of 2013, November 19