By Chris Trout
SJMCC spokesperson

According to the 2010 census, 21.6 percent of Idyllwild’s residents have reached the milestone age of 65 that qualifies them as seniors. Right behind them are 32.1 percent more in the 50 to 64 age group. If my math is on target, more than 50 percent of our population can be called older adults.

Recently, we heard from our teens with all their hopes, wants and wishes for programs and facilities at the Idyllwild Community Center. This month, the focus is on three categories of older couples, each with different reasons for being in Idyllwild and more importantly, with different ideas about how to create an accessible and welcoming place for other residents with their age-related interests.

Bobbie and Gary Glasheen. Photos courtesy of Chris Trout
Like many who began their relationship with Idyllwild as second homers, Bobbie and Gary Glasheen came to Idyllwild from San Diego for 25 years to enjoy what Bobbie calls a “face to face experience with nature,” the four seasons and the peaceful natural beauty. Fifteen years ago they became full-time residents. Bobbie, a passionate writer, and Gary, an award-winning artist, enjoy the cultural events Idyllwild Arts Academy sponsors, particularly symphonic and chamber music. Gary, an active member of the Art Alliance of Idyllwild and the Rotary, would love to see a painting studio at ICC where artists may come share equipment, materials and experiences.

Calling herself a senior skeptic, Bobbie worried about the new facility’s sustainability and questioned the community’s ability to keep it a safe place for all to enjoy. When apprised of the fact that the Butterfields had made a 10-year commitment to make up any shortfall in securing funds to maintain the facility, Bobbie stated, “Our eyes are now open to possibiities that we had dismissed before we even thought about them.”

John and Mary Kracha
And now meet Mary and John Kracha, a couple who has owned a home here for 20 years. You may have seen the results of their beautification efforts on what is known as “Daffodil Hill” where Mary has been responsible for planting more than 1,000 daffodils. Active in their home town of Chula Vista as members of the Citizen Adversity Support Team, this couple comes to Idyllwild to relax and enjoy their seven children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

John is retired from the Navy and now teaches beginning computer skills for seniors. He envisions similar classes and educational workshops in the ICC activity room of the Butterield Family Center. This active couple spends every other week in Idyllwild and enjoys the Idyllwild Film Festival, the Art Walk and Wine Tasting, and the beauty of their exercise walks in the county and state parks.

After a tour of the ICC site, the Krachas were both impressed with what has already been accomplished as well as with the plans for the future. Mary felt “the attraction will be great for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren because there will be many more activities for them similar to those they have in their urban environments.”

Keith and Sandy Froehlich
Keith and Sandy Froehlich have reversed the usual senior residency progression. From full-time in Idyllwild for up to 61 years, they now live part-time in both the desert and Idyllwild. Keith moved to Idyllwild in 1941. As a young boy, he and his friends played along the creek where there soon will be a sculpture garden. He attended concerts in the original amphitheater and watched weddings under the arch that still stands. Sandy, who came to Idyllwild in 2005, loves the summer concerts saying, “They remind me of the movie ‘Moon River.’ I love the music and the dancing. In Idyllwild, the post office is where we say hello, the summer concerts are where we really have a chance to catch up with our friends.”

As a founder of deep-pit barbecues the Idyllwild Property Owners’ Association held on the site, Keith looks forward to pancake breakfasts and spaghetti dinners on the terrace overlooking the inspiring creekside setting. He would also like to see areas set aside for shuffleboard, horseshoes, pickle ball and other games and activities.

Keith, a long-time member of the Woodies, and Sandy, a Soroptomists member, look at this stage of their life as “refinement, not retirement.” They are avid participants in outdoor activities as well as visual arts exhibitions, dance, music and theater performances. Both would like to see the ICC become a clearing house and information center for short-term volunteer opportunities that help the Idyllwild community. According to Keith, “The ICC will expand and enhance our entertaining style as well as our own lives. We look forward to bringing our guests to enjoy the programs and activities planned for the facility.”

To share your ideas, questions and inquiries, email [email protected]. We look forward to having the opportunity to chat with you.