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Senior Stars and Centenarians Selected

Media Contact: Mary Margaret Colliver, (859) 361-1887 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 20, 2009) - Kentucky seniors will be recognized for contributions to their communities at the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Foundation’s 23rd annual dinner Oct. 6, 2009 at the Marriott Griffin Gate Resort in Lexington.

"The Senior Star and Centenarian awards are an excellent opportunity for the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Foundation to recognize and honor those who exemplify graceful aging by remaining engaged in an active lifestyle," said Cheryl Blanton Feigel, Sanders-Brown Foundation board member and chair of the outreach committee. "The purpose of the awards is to recognize Kentuckians who are making lasting contributions in professional and/or community life and who set high standards to inspire others."

2009 Dr. William R. Markesbery Senior Stars 

Alexander (Al) Feher, 85, of Lynch; Maurae Hunley Foster, of Glasgow, who passed away this year at age 86; Joseph (Joe) Elias Isaac, 83, of Lexington; and Effie Kemp, 82, of Murray, have been selected by the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Foundation Board of Directors as 2009 William R. Markesbery Senior Stars.

Candidates are nominated by individuals, organizations and other groups. Last year, the foundation board members voted unanimously to rename the award in honor of UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Director Dr. William R. Markesbery.

In addition to all his scientific accomplishments, Markesbery is best known as a caring, compassionate clinician, a brilliant researcher and a tremendous leader. Carrying forward his name with this award is one small way to recognize Markesbery and his many contributions to the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and, more importantly, his contributions to uncovering the secrets of devastating diseases.

2009 Dr. David R. Wekstein Centenarian Awards 

Hazel Dillon, 100, of Maysville; Catherine Ledford Duff, 101, of Lexington; and Pearl Greer, 101, of Glasgow, have been selected by the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Foundation Board of Directors as recipients of the Dr. David R. Wekstien Centenarian Award.

Wekstein is professor emeritus of physiology and biophysics, UK College of Medicine, and former associate director of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. For 21 years, Wekstein carried an autopsy pager around the clock. Often he would receive urgent calls in the middle of the night or during dinner that would compel him to drop everything and travel to the autopsy room. To help scientists unlock the secrets of normal and abnormal aging, the autopsy had to be performed in a timely manner. But Wekstein never complained. After all, the BRAiNS project, (Biologically Resilient Adults in Neurological Studies) the nation’s most extensive research collection of high quality brain tissue, was initiated by Wekstein in 1989. He also started the Centenarian Program while he was at the center.

"The UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Foundation is fortunate to have a number of very deserving seniors nominated each year for the Senior Star Award and Centenarian Award," said Feigel. "Each of the nominees is a model for remaining active and involved during retirement years. Our award recipients this year epitomize the word 'involved' and we are so very proud to recognize them for all the many contributions they continue to make to our Commonwealth and its people."

Senior Star Feher
Feher is still going strong. Following his retirement from U.S. Steel in Lynch, he is writing and publishing books (Escape from Hungary and Ellis Island to Lynch, Ky.) and is active in the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post as well as the Kentucky VFW, and is a volunteer tour guide at the Coal Mining Museum and Mine Portal 31. According to his daughter, Janey Feher, "My dad never stops. He is always willing to volunteer his time to do things for his community and his country. At 85, his outlook on life is one everyone should share."

Over the years, Feher served as the Lynch police judge, as a city councilman, several terms as commander of VFW Mountain Trail Post 5191, and state commander of Kentucky VFW. He has served on various state and national VFW committees and has volunteered his services conducting military funerals in Harlan County for 50 years.

Senior Star Foster
Foster started work in 1954. She worked for 35 years for South Central Rural Telephone and retired in 1988. After a short break, she began working for St. Charles Realty as office manager. After that, Foster began working in the county sheriff's department as a tax collection clerk. Then she began to work at the Barren County Property Valuation office and continued to work there until her death this year. Foster will be recognized posthumously.


"Ms. Foster was an amazing woman," said Krissie Coe Fields, Barren County Circuit Court Clerk. "She maintained a very busy work and social schedule. She was 71 years old when she began her work at the PVA's office. She was not about to let any changes in today's technology advancements hinder her from working."

Senior Star Isaac
"At 83, my dad is a role model for how to live gracefully, productively, energetically and lovingly in your later years," said Isaac's daughter, Sheila Isaac, former chief circuit court judge for Fayette County, Commonwealth of Kentucky, who is now a circuit court judge on senior status for Kentucky. "After a career as a Lexington realtor and owner of Burger Shake, which is still going strong after 50 years, he is an example of how to use your extra time to give back to the community. He has touched many lives in the community and he is generous with everyone he knows or comes into contact."

Isaac, at the age of 69, began volunteering as an instructor with the non-profit Central Kentucky Computer Society. He now gives seminars and remains an expert teaching the Microsoft operating systems, Windows XP and Vista. When SeniorNet was developed to cater to elder people and help demystify technology and connect them to the internet world, Isaac was right there with them helping. His students frequently send him notes by e-mail that bring tears to his eyes.

Kemp Senior Star
"What would you do if you were confronted with hundreds of hungry, poverty stricken people," said Linda Avery, Circuit Court Clerk in Calloway County in Murray. "Most people would look the other way. Not Effie Kemp. She would see it as a challenge and immediately begin planning, coordinating, and working to meet the needs of these people and she would continue to do so for more than 25 years."

Kemp worked as a registered nurse for 35 years. She began her career after graduating from Murray State University while she worked at Murray-Calloway County Hospital. She completed graduate work at UCLA and the University of Colorado and received a doctorate in nursing at UK. She served as nursing instructor and/or chair of nursing in many locations including Murray State University, Paducah Community College and at UK. She also worked for the U.S. Health, Education and Welfare Department as a consultant in Guam, New Mexico, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Kemp is past president of the Kentucky Nurses Association and is past site visitor for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the National League of Nursing.

When some people were thinking about retirement, Avery says Kemp was thinking about others and helping them. Kemp began her mission work when she was 55. Now at age 82, Kemp continues to be not only an active member of the community, but also a person who has made a positive global impact. She organizes, coordinates and participates in one or two mission trips annually to Honduras. As a member of the Board of Directors of Angels Community Medical and Dental Clinic, she helps provide medical and dental care to uninsured working members of the community. She volunteers at the Angels Attic which is a store front which sells yard sale type items and uses the proceeds to fund the Angels Community Clinic. She is a volunteer for In His Steps Ministry, an affiliate of Operation Blessing, where she helps receive, sort and deliver food and household items to the needy.

Centenarian Dillon
Dillon has taught Sunday school for 70 years and is a lifelong member of Bethel Methodist Church. She has been treasurer of Bethel cemetery for many years. She is known in Maysville as the "Juicy Fruit Lady," as she always gave Juicy Fruit gum to Sunday school children and in cards and letters. The Wrigley Company recently honored her on her 100th birthday.

"Mrs. Dillon is one of Mason County's most treasured ladies, is a wonderful Christian woman, and has been an inspiration to everyone," said James L. (Buddy) Gallenstein, Mason County Judge/Executive. "She is a vibrant 100 year old who is much loved by those fortunate enough to know her. She's helped raise grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is the epitome of grace, gentleness and kindness. Mrs. Dillon is the epitome of class and grace."

Centenarian Duff
Born in Mt. Sterling, Duff is a former buyer and bridal consultant for Martins and Wolf Wiles department stores in Lexington. She is a graduate of Fugazzi Business College and trained in nursing during and after World War II. She has experienced many significant historical events during her long life such as the Women's Right to Vote Suffrage Act in 1920. Duff has voted in every presidential election since she became eligible starting with Herbert Hoover in 1928.

"We are privileged to have been a friend and neighbor of Mrs. Duff for over 35 years," said Robert and Carolyn Figg, friends and neighbors. "She is truly an inspiring lady whose energy and zest for life belies her 101 years. She stills lives independently in her own home and drove her car until after her 100th birthday."

Other friends and neighbors, Karen Lee and Dick Miner, say "Catherine is one of the most gracious and sincere people that you will ever meet. She is never without a smile and kind word. Living in Lexington for many years and active in the business community with her husband, Joe, Catherine is a wealth of knowledge. One never tires of talking with her and to this day, her mind is sharp and clear. If you ever have a question pertaining to downtown Lexington, past tense, just ask Catherine."

Centenarian Greer 
In 1955, Greer was a housewife in Glasgow and decided to go into business. She remodeled her basement and opened a florist. She had it in her home so she could still cook her husband's lunch and be close. In 1963, Greer's daughter-in-law Davie Greer came to work for her and they worked side by side for 30 years. The shop grew out of the basement and then she purchased the building next door. At 75, Greer decided it was time to retire and turned the business over to her daughter-in-law. The business is still in operation today and is run by her granddaughters. She is a charter member of the Glasgow Business and Profession Women's organization and is still active with them today.

"Pearl Greer is an inspiration to her family and friends," said Davie Greer. "When she turned 100, she received over 150 cards and received more when she turned 101. She is a great lady who has always enjoyed life and has taught her family to do the same."

The Center on Aging has been conducting research on Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other aging related concerns for more than 30 years. America's population is aging, resulting in significant economic, social, educational and health challenges to the well-being of our nation. The UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging is at the forefront of this challenge. Through a gift from the Eleanor and John Y. Brown Jr. Foundation and a matching grant from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging opened in 1979. Today, the center is an internationally prestigious research center.

Guest Speaker Pearse Lyons
Guest Speaker Pearse Lyons The guest speaker for the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging Foundation's 23rd annual dinner is Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech.

Headquartered in Lexington with bioscience centers in the United States, Ireland and Thailand, and offices and distributors in 113 countries, Alltech plays a leadership role in the animal and nutrition industry. Lyons received his bachelor's degree from the National University of Ireland in Dublin and pursued his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Birmingham, England. He later worked as a biochemist in Irish Distillers before founding Alltech in 1980.

Alltech is the sponsor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games to be held in 2010.

For more information about the UK Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and the foundation and its annual fundraising event, call Jodie Bingham at 859-323-5374. 

Page last updated: 11/20/2013 12:03:39 PM