Retired staffers talk about their busy lives at YUSA lunch

Claudia Hungerson is fitter than ever. The svelte and youthful septuagenarian took up marathon running after retiring from her role as a student adviser with the University.

Hungerson, who most recently placed 88th out of 100 women runners in a marathon in Florida, was among more than 50 retired staff members feted during a special lunch at Michelangelo’s Restaurant on York’s Keele campus.

 Above: Retirees gather in Michelangelo’s Restaurant prior to the YUSA lunch

The luncheon, hosted by the York University Staff Association (YUSA), brought retired staffers back to the University. From secretarial staff, program assistants and support staff for admissions to recruiters, advisers, communications personnel and library support staffers, experiences of the group offered insight into the active life of today’s retirees.

A delighted Joanie Cameron Pritchett (left), president of YUSA, took a few moments before the lunch began to let the group know that the event was an important part of YUSA’s celebration of its 35th-anniversary year and to recognize their contributions to building both the University and the staff association. She congratulated and thanked the retirees for their years of service to the University.

“This lunch is a great initiative and I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy day to come back to York,” she said. “I hope that today is a great day for all of you and I think it is so important that we honour all of your contributions to the University.”

Laughing, Cameron Pritchett said, “I can truly say that after talking with many of you that each of you says you are busier now than you ever were when you were working!”

Cameron Pritchett thanked Michelangelo’s Restaurant owner Attilio Perrone and his staff for catering the luncheon.

For Hungerson, who is 72 years old, returning to York offered a wonderful way to reconnect with colleagues that she had not seen for years. She joined the University in 1966 and retired in 1991 after 25 years of service with the former Atkinson College.

After retiring, Hungerson says she “caught the bug” and started running in marathons. And while she joked that she would never cross the finish line in first place, she said that running kept her mind and body fit.

Right: From left, retired staffers Marlene Collins, Claudia Hungerson, Doreen Myers and Dulcis Pendergast

For Dulcis Pendergast, who contributed 30 years of service to the University as a course secretary with the Department of Psychology, retirement has brought many happy trips overseas. Pendergast says she keeps very busy planning her trips and is hoping to travel to Italy. Retirement, she says, has offered her many wonderful opportunities to learn more about the world and its cultures.

Marlene Collins, who contributed 25 years of service to the University as an administrative assistant in the Faculty of Education and then with Osgoode Hall Law School, says her retirement keeps her very busy looking after her four grandchildren and planning her next adventure overseas.

And for Frank Beh, 93 years young and the oldest retiree to attend the lunch, life has been very active since retiring 27 years ago. A book lover, Beh loves to read and keep his mind active. While at York, he worked as an assistant in the Scott Library and Osgoode Hall Law Library. The lunch was the first time Beh had been back at York since retiring and he said he was enjoying the opportunity to catch up on all the news. “I can’t believe how much the campus has changed,” he said and noted that “many of my grandchildren have already finished University.”

Left: Frank Beh (right) with his wife Shirley

Retired staffer Cynthia Gough and her husband Lionel attended the luncheon and both said they had a wonderful time catching up with old friends. Gough worked in the Faculty of Fine Arts for six years as the secretary to the director, Judith Schwarz. “Over the course of my career, I have worked for many corporations. I have to say that I saved the best for last. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at York University; it was absolute heaven to be able to work with the artists and the talented students in the Faculty.”

Right: Cynthia Gough (left) with her husband Lionel

Marilyn Abram, a retired customer service representative for Printing Services at York University, found a new career with her own graphic design agency, CAT Graphics & Print Ltd. Abram, who is also very active raising funds for special skills dogs for Israel, worked for 25 years at York University.

Many others in attendance spoke of the new opportunities they were investigating – some had returned to school to learn a new skill or language, while others, like Abram, were continuing with their professional lives. 

 Above: The YUSA retirees pose for a group portrait

The May 28 event was the second lunch for retirees hosted by YUSA. “I hope that going forward we continue to recognize the great work and the effort that each of you has put into York," said Cameron Pritchett. "Your efforts have given us the University that we have today.”