Winifred Tappan and the 90s Club

This is the first of the Made Your Mark stories we will print from Region 10’s new book. Since it was written, Wini Tappan has suffered a stroke and is currently in Valley Manor undergoing rigorous therapy. She’s improving…because she is still directing (with a great deal of effort and stubborn perseverance) care and compassion for other seniors in our community.

[July 2020 | By Kathryn R. Burke]

Age brings inevitable discomforts (arthritis, unsteadiness, sometimes fuzzy memory), but that doesn’t dictate that the “golden” years must be spent sitting in a recliner and mindlessly watching TV. The secret to successful longevity is to move! Get up! Get going! Get out and do things. And that’s the impetus behind The 90s Club, which meets once a month at the Senior Center after lunch (and now accepts some in their eighties as well).

Winifred Tappan. Courtesy image.

It began because Wini Tappan, who turned 94 in February, was seeking answers for senior services and having trouble finding them. She lunches regularly at the Senior Center, and through discussions there with folks in their 80s and 90s, she realized that there were others who needed help, and couldn’t figure out where to get it. So she started digging for information—not an easy task when you have macular degeneration and hearing loss. Neither of which slows Winnie down, though. (Despite those issues, plus having suffered a stroke, broken neck, and heart attack, Wini still swims at the Rec Center and never misses a Saturday Night Dance. We recently published her fourth book; she wrote her first at age 55!)

The information is out there, but it’s murkey, often confusing, and sometimes really hard to find. But she did, and knowing she needed to share it, started the club. Wini researched age-related topics then arranged for guest speakers. She reached out to Cindy Marino at the Rec Center for help in planning and executing club activities. Last fall, members enjoyed a color tour in Ouray County, with lunch at The Grit Café in Ridgway. During the holiday season, the Rec Center van took the group on an excursion to view Christmas light displays, followed by dinner at Paghres Restaurant in Montrose. The blub has toured and lunched at a variety of fascinating places, learning as they go, often wearing the special club tee shirts she had made for them.  You know that old saying, “It’s never too late”? Well, ninety isn’t too late to learn new things.

Before the Covid Crisis, the 80s & 90s Club met the third Friday monthly at the Montrose Senior Center, 1800 Pavilion Drive. After lunch (optional, and prepared by the Homestead), the group enjoyed a special program. Or join other club members there to venture out into the surrounding community for one of the informative, entertaining excursions Wini and Cindy have planned.

During the Covid Crisis, with the Senior Center shut down, Wini remained determined to keep the group together. With the help of Cindy Marino, she initiated a weekly Conference Call. Members tune in by cell phone, and can stay in touch, share stories, and look forward to when they are able to meet in person again. Right now, Wini is planning to have them meet at Lions Club Park, for a brown-bag lunch, where they can sit apart and yet still be together in the covered area near the restrooms.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Age has not stopped Wini and her club from figuring out the “way” to be together, in spite of difficult circumstances. *

Kathryn Burke is a former caregiver and author of books on caregiving, some of which are now used for caregiver training.