OLLI Past President

Cornell Carr

I grew up in Branson, Missouri, and attended the University of Illinois.  I worked for Lincoln Office Environments as the Caterpillar Account Manager.  My wife and I have 4 kids and 6 grandsons.  

My involvement with OLLI began when my wife happened to see an OLLI brochure and suggested I take a look at what was offered.  Since I had just retired and I always loved reading and learning, I thought I’d give a study group a try.  I’m happy to say that I immediately fell in love with the program!

My first impression of OLLI was that it was made up of a group of intelligent people who loved learning and sharing ideas as much as I did.  I immediately realized OLLI was an outstanding source of continued learning with many other like-minded people.  I then heard about classes and that was it; I was hooked!

What surprises me the most about working with OLLI is the attitudes of the volunteers.  I did not initially realize that everyone with whom I worked had the same “can-do” attitude and desire to create a first-class learning environment that I did.  I have been constantly challenged to do more and to do better through their actions.

The best thing to happen since I started working with OLLI has been meeting the people.  Over the years I have been privileged to meet so many talented, gifted, and intelligent people and I now can call them my friends.  They are among the best people I know.

When donate to OLLI, I feel like I am doing a small part in helping sustain an on-going organization that specializes in learning and in making connections between people of diverse backgrounds with the same desire to learn and share.  Being a part in an all-volunteer organization makes me realize just how important it is to give back either through donations or time. 

I’d love to see classes extended by a little.  Four weeks or four hours seems far too short for the classes.  It’s more realistic to think in terms of having a follow-up study group to many of the classes.  I would like to see a coordinated effort between classes and study groups to work in conjunction with each other.

I wish that folks who don’t yet attend OLLI knew that continual learning with outstanding people keeps the mind so fresh and alert.  Being forced to see things differently makes us more well-rounded and complete.  And being able to express your ideas and thoughts in a safe environment goes a long way in helping us learn.

I have been able to meet so many fantastic people over the years.  I have made several close friendships that I cherish.  I have met people from whom I learned the value of sharing and of constant learning; I met people who taught me how to best organize my thinking into a coherent strategy of expressing myself; and I have met people who make me a better person just because of who they are! 

The first person I met at OLLI was the co-facilitator of the first study group I took.  He became such a role model for me in how to learn and in how to express your ideas in such a way as to make others feel comfortable.  He has been involved in OLLI in virtually every fashion and left a big mark on the program and on me in particular.  His calm demeanor always belied his intense desire to learn and to teach.  He seemed to have a ready smile and laugh at all times.  His grace in everything he did has been such an example for me. 

Our OLLI is growing because people are beginning to recognize the absolute joy in learning with so many other fantastic people!  There is such a diversity in class offerings as well as study groups, learning trips and regional trips that we can provide something of interest to virtually anyone. 

If someone is thinking about attending OLLI, I want them to know that they have nothing to lose and everything to gain!  I tried it and have not looked back once.  They can get a feel for OLLI by attending classes for one day at no cost.  So they can see how OLLI works first hand.  Plus, volunteering for OLLI is fun!  I’m able to challenge myself next to people who feel the same way.  In helping to create new classes or study groups you feel like you’re accomplishing something that will be fun and that will be challenging for more people. 

OLLI is such a blessing for us.  There are so many retirees around this area who are looking for something to do with their time and OLLI is an invaluable solution to most of them.  What is there that’s more fun than learning something new with friends?  You get the chance to express all your ideas in a safe, accepting environment that welcomes new ideas..