by Ara Rogers

The worst part of our work at OLLI is periodically saying goodbye to dear friends. Then there are the shockingly unexpected losses. In the last two weeks, we have experienced both forms of losses. We have mixed feelings about announcing deaths; some believe it is news that members want to hear. Others worry that we might be running lots of these sorts of announcements, and risk offending if we overlook someone. Where should we draw the line?

This week we bid goodbye to Joyce Olsson, (1931-2010). Joyce was Senior Programs’ (now OLLI) second office volunteer. Joyce worked two full days a week for several years; by the time I returned to this program in 2001, she had settled into one day of work – Wednesdays. Those were fun days for me; Joyce was always good for a chat and Wednesday lunches became a time to play Rummi-cube. In all, she volunteered over 10 years for Senior Programs and OLLI. Our volunteer computer profile still holds her name. Joyce died April 5 after a long fight with emphysema. She will be buried in California, in her home town.

OLLI also lost Vaz Rogbeck recently. Chances are if you took yoga classes with OLLI, you knew of Vaz; he was a gentle and caring instructor, skilled at helping older bodies new to a yoga practice. A military veteran, Vaz was buried this week at the national cemetery in Bushnell. My condolences to his partner, Sara Devi.

More shocking is the recent death of former staff member Bettina Carroccetto at 29 years of age. Bettina died in a single-car accident yesterday (April 7) at 2 pm on I-275 around Bearss, causes as yet unknown. Bettina worked as program assistant, then became SeniorNet coordinator in 2002, while completing her bachelor’s degree at USF. She left us to attend nursing school; she worked for many years as a pediatric ICU nurse at St Joe’s. Her best friend, Angie Denninger, who also worked for Senior Programs, informed me today. We have no information as of yet about memorial services.

I will probably not be posting more of these sorts of announcements. But having been stung by this recent string of losses, I couldn’t resist the urge to share my grief and loss with others who might feel the same. Isn’t that what we might all hope for – to have made a difference in someone else’s life?

Ara Rogers, Ph.D.

Director, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
University of South Florida
Continuing Education
4202 E Fowler Ave., NEC116
Tampa, FL 33620-6758
Office: (813) 974-5263
Fax: (813) 974-5421