MILA LIMSON – Middlebury
Mila’s father was a career Navy man so she had the opportunity to live in various parts of the country, however, has lived in the Wolcott area since 1986. She has recently relocated to Middlebury with her husband Joseph Shea.
She is a retired professional Town Planner with 30 years of experience in land use, zoning, and community development. She served as Town Planner and Manager of the development office of the Town of West Hartford. During her tenure as Town Planner, West Hartford experienced unprecedented development and reinvestment including the Town’s first mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development known as Blue Back Square.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Public Administration from the University of New Haven. She also attended the University of Colorado, Graduate School of Urban and Regional Planning where she had the opportunity to learn and appreciate the importance of Town Planning and its impact on our quality of lives.
After graduating from College, Ms. Limson served as a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) and worked as a public civil servant recruiting volunteers for the Peace Corps/VISTA Agency. She has worked for a variety of nonprofits including the Urban League of Greater New Haven and the Capitol Region Council of Governments in Hartford.
Since her retirement, Mila now dedicates her time and skills to a variety of civic and cultural organizations. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Literacy Volunteers of Greater Waterbury and also an ESL tutor for the agency. She has been a volunteer with Foodshare, Inc and is involved with the Connecticut Forest and Park Association and Friends of the Office of State Archaeology. Mila enjoys spending time with her two granddaughters as well as traveling and hiking with her husband.
JOE GAMBINI – Wolcott
Joe spent 40 years in the education field. He began teaching English at Immaculate High School in Danbury shortly after graduating from Fairfield University. He received his Master’s Degree from Western Connecticut State University and a sixth-year degree from Southern Connecticut. He then began a 28-year stint teaching English at New Fairfield High School. He spent the last four years of his career at the Connecticut State Department of Education giving workshops and overseeing English Language programs throughout the state.
Joe has been married to his wife Ellen, whom he met at Immaculate High School, for almost 52 years. They have 2 children and lived in Waterbury for their entire lives until a recent move to Wolcott. Jow has always liked theatre. He directed many plays at both high schools, enjoyed attending plays and has been an aisle captain at the Palace Theater for many years. Another passion is travel. He and Ellen have made frequent trips to Europe, Russia, and the Caribbean.
MARY FITZPATRICK PEITLER – Meriden
Mary has been a member of OLLI for over seven years and is presently Secretary of the Leadership Council. She is a member of the Editorial Committee of Voices and Visions, OLLI’s literary magazine, and has had her poetry and prose published there. She also serves on the OLLI Newsletter Committee and writes a weekly arts column. In 2018 she was thrilled to represent OLLI at the national convention in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Mary is a New York City native, a graduate of St. John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s in New Testament Theology. After moving to New Milford in 1975 she raised her family before returning to work as the Administrative Assistant to the First Selectman of that town. Subsequently she worked for twenty-five years at New Milford Visiting Nurse and Hospice where she held many positions. At various times she did writing and public relations, was the Coordinator of Fund Development and Assistant to the Hospice Director. She retired in 2015 after serving 15 years as the Director of Volunteers, recruiting, training and placing Hospice volunteers and being the administrative liaison for Camp Jonathan, a summer camp for bereaved children.
She is thrilled to be retired! She lives in a three-generation household and is fortunate to spend a lot of time with her two grandsons. She also is the proud grandmother of two beautiful granddaughters. Mary now has her own freelance writing, editing and proofreading business called “Look Smart.” Her hobbies include reading, genealogy, singing in her church choir (and in the car), and going to the YMCA every day (well, almost!) She also likes to laugh a lot and tries to find humor in almost all situations.
Mary has taken four trips to her favorite place in the world, Ireland, and has visited Scotland. She hopes to broaden her travel plans in the future! She absolutely LOVES being a member of OLLI!
DAVID BILL – Torrington
IRA MICKENBERG – Middlebury
I retired from the practice of Internal Medicine in Southbury in 2008 and joined OLLI in 2010. Following the transition from work to retirement my life has changed substantially. I grew up in Brooklyn and Queens N.Y., attended Cornell University and then Downstate Medical Center where I graduated Summa Cum Laude. My medical training took place at the University of Washington in Seattle, Stanford University in Palo Alto, the National Institutes of Health and Yale. I was a founding partner of Southbury Medical Associates where I practiced from 1971 until 2008 retiring as a Yale Clinical Associate Professor. In 2007 I received a Laureate Award for Connecticut from the American College of Physicians.
I became a member of the OLLI Leadership Council in 2013 and President in 2017. I’ve enjoyed taking courses at OLLI, developed an interest in poetry, worked at the Fulton Park Garden and made presentations at the OLLI Cafe of trips that my wife Pat Fahey and I have taken. We have developed many friendships and interests at OLLI which complement the time spent with the six children and 8 grandchildren that we share. We live in and care for our Middlebury home and garden.
Clubs and Activities Committee Co-Chairs
NANCY VIA – Prospect
Nancy Via is retired from Southern Connecticut State University (New Haven, CT) where she has been a member of the teaching faculty for 38 years. She has a B.S. Degree, a Masters in Library Science Degree and a Sixth Year Diploma in Administration and Supervision. Her position at Southern was as a University Librarian in the Reference Department/Bibliographic Instruction Unit. During the course of her tenure at Southern, she held numerous organizational positions, including Spokesperson for the Library Faculty Department and Chairperson of the University Sabbatical Leave Committee.
She has served as President of the Friends of the Prospect Public Library and most recently was elected President of the Prospect Historical Society. She serves on the Prospect Library Board of Directors. During the past two years, she has been an active member of the OLLI Leadership Council where she has served as Chairperson of the Guidelines Committee, Chairperson of the Nominating Committee and Co-chairperson of the Membership Committee. Nancy is enthusiastic about OLLI and UConn and is particularly interested in partnership opportunities it affords.
Since retirement, Nancy has participated in an Elderhostel program in Chicago as well as travel in the United States. Although she is very active in OLLI and the Prospect community, she continues to enjoy special times with her son Gregory, and twin grandsons, Elliott and Ross.
DELMA WAY – Watertown
Delma was born on a ranch in Alpine, Texas, in the area of what is now the Big Bend National Park of the southwest. As a youngster, her family moved to El Paso, where she attended public schools.
After her education, for 10 years she worked for the federal government at William Beaumont Army Hospital – during the Korean Conflict, during which she worked for the Chief of General Surgery, the Chief of the Department of Surgery, followed by the Director of Medical Education, working with interns and residents. After marrying and before leaving for Connecticut, she ran the Tumor Board Registry.
Having settled in Watertown, she stayed home for 16 years taking care of a young, growing family, during which she challenged herself to learn numerous skills of interest. This included organic gardening, food preservation, sewing for the family and home, chair-caning, rug-braiding, and various types of needlework.
In her first position back to work, she worked with the Director of Admissions of the Forman School in Litchfield. Following this, she spent 15 years at the VNA Group, which was the result of a major merger in which she participated as Corporate Secretary, combining town VNAs of the Greater Waterbury and Greater Hartford areas. She also worked as Communications Liaison with emphasis on keeping employees of the various town agencies informed and appreciated. In later years she worked as account manager at a digital printing firm, and finally retired from ESPN where she worked with two executive producers.
In retirement, Delma now has more time to travel and enjoy her family. She also enjoys volunteering at various area theaters and in other community sites. OLLI has become one of her major passions, and she looks forward to continued participation in this unique venture.
Curriculum Committee Co-Chairs
ROSALIE GRIFFIN – Waterbury
Rosalie has been an OLLI member since 2006 and has presented several math classes for our membership over the years.
She earned a B.A.in Mathematics from Albertus Magnus College, New Haven, Conn., an M.A.L.S. (Mathematics) from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., and an M.A. in Counseling from St. Joseph College (now University) in West Hartford, Conn.
Rosalie has spent over forty years in the education field. She taught math at Crosby High School in Waterbury for 35 years. As Math Dept. Chair she implemented the National Science Foundation’s innovative curriculum, Math Connections. Rosalie gave presentations on Math Connections at several national math conferences and trained teachers from several states. In addition, she served as an adjunct instructor at Waterbury State Technical College and Naugatuck Valley Community College for a total of nineteen years.
Rosalie has been a volunteer for the Thresholds program, funded by the CT Dept. of Corrections, teaching decision-making skills to inmates. In her nearly forty years as a volunteer for Thresholds she taught both one-on-one and group sessions for inmates at the Cheshire Correctional Centers.
She and her husband Mike reside in Waterbury and enjoy spending time with their five children and six grandchildren.
RICHARD ALBRO – Oakville
Richard was born and raised in Springfield, Mass. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology at Springfield College. Continuing his education, Richard moved to Rochester, Minn. to attend the Mayo Clinic School of Physical Therapy. As a Registered Physical Therapist, he was commissioned as an ensign in the US Navy and three years later discharged as a lieutenant. In the Navy he was privileged to be able to serve the country while pursuing the career path that he had trained for. He came to Watertown in 1968, following his military discharge and recent marriage to Diane. Diane and Richard were both naval officers serving at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, VA.
Arriving in Connecticut, Richard worked for four years at the State Health Department as a Public Health Consultant. In 1972, Quinnipiac University became his employer for several decades. Initially, his job was the Academic Clinical Coordinator for Physical Therapy. As his career developed and as the result of ongoing graduate education and sabbaticals, he transitioned into teaching responsibilities. In the succeeding years at Quinnipiac University he had the sole responsibility for the biomechanics and kinesiology component within the Physical Therapy Program. Retirement occurred in 2005, but he taught part time for another four years.
Richard and Diane have two children and five grandchildren. They have had the opportunity to travel extensively, mostly in Europe, then South America, China and Russia.
Travel Committee Co-Chairs
JOYCE CONLAN – Oakville
Joyce Conlan, has been an OLLI member since its inaugural year of 2007. Having taken a wide range of classes over that span of time, Joyce was also a member of the early Hospitality and Membership Committees before being asked to Co-Chair the newly formed Travel Committee in 2009. She was most recently Assistant Secretary to the Leadership Council.
Born and educated in Waterbury, Joyce attended Southern Connecticut State University where she earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees as well as a Sixth Year Certification in Advanced Studies. She began her teaching career at Webster School in Waterbury where she taught first, fifth, and sixth grades. After her daughters, Terri and Kristin were born, Joyce returned to teaching in Watertown at Swift Jr. High School where she taught seventh and eighth grade Reading for twenty-six years, retiring in 1999.
Together with husband, Ned, also a retired teacher and OLLI member, Joyce has traveled extensively in the United States, Europe (both Western and Eastern) and has cruised to numerous islands including the exotic islands of Tahiti, Bora Bora, and Morea. Summing up her travels, Joyce likes to say she has been on four continents and still counting.
Joyce looks forward to many more years as an OLLI member where she will continue to grow in “life-long learning” and where she hopes to continue meeting new and interesting OLLI members, many of whom she hopes she can refer to as “friends”.
POLLY MERRIMAN – Watertown
Newsletter Committee Chair
ROBERT GRADY – Watertown
Bob Grady was born in Waterbury, attended local schools and graduated from Sacred Heart High School, where he was co-captain of the Championship swimming team. He then spent four years in the U.S. Navy as an aviation electronic technician.
Bob holds a BA in English and Psychology from UConn, a Master’s in Education from Central Connecticut State University, and a Certificate in Advanced Graduate Studies in Counseling from Fairfield University. He also attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He also received a Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming from Eastern Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.
Bob taught in Buck’s Hill School in Waterbury for three years, was part of an innovative teaching program at the sixth grade level in Watertown public schools, and then spent thirty- five years teaching at Watertown High School.
He has been a member of curriculum committees and evaluation teams in education and has also been active in local politics, as well as participating in community projects. He has held offices in the local teachers’ associations and was President of the Watertown Education Association for the last seven years of his teaching career.
Since retirement, Bob has journeyed to forty-seven of the contiguous states, Washington being the only exception. He has also traveled extensively throughout South East Asia and visits Singapore where his daughter teaches at Nanyang University.
Membership Committee Co-Chairs
MERLE ARCOVIO – Thomaston
Merle was born and raised in Waterbury, attending Beth David Academy and Crosby High School. She received her B.A. from Morris Harvey College in Charleston, West Virginia and a master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University. Merle taught elementary school in the Waterbury Public School System for 34 years, 33 of those years at Barnard School. She was a member of the City of Waterbury math curriculum committee, a Barnard PTA officer and taught in the after school program at Barnard.
Besides OLLI, Merle is very active in her synagogue and is Bubby (grandmother) to a kindergarten class at Yeshiva K’Atana in Waterbury (the former UConn campus). Since retiring, she enjoys reading and is a member of 2 book clubs (1 an OLLI book club), needle pointing, knitting, gardening, making wine, and spending time with family and friends, especially being Bubby to her grandchildren.
TIM PADGETT – Waterbury
Cafe Committee C0-Chairs
JULIE FERNANDEZ –
MARION VARANELLI –
Fund-raising Innovation Team (F.I.T) Chair
VICKIE NARDELLO –
Technology Team Chair
CHARLES LASKY –
Nominating Committee Chair
Voices and Visions Editorial Review Committee C0-Chairs
ELIZABETH HANAHAN – Bethlehem
NANCY WHITNEY – Hamden
John & Joyce DeCesare Renaissance Fund
JOYCE DeCESARE – Waterbury
Joyce is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Professional Counselor, Board Certified PTSD Counselor and achieved Diplomat and Fellow status from the American Psychotherapy Association. She is in private practice in Middlebury, Connecticut. She received her BA Degree in Education from Anna Maria College in Paxton Massachusetts, MS Degree in Counseling from the University of Bridgeport, 6th year Degree in Advanced Study in Counseling and State Certification in Administration and Supervision from Southern Connecticut State University.
Prior to opening her office in 2000, she retired from the Waterbury Board of Education holding the position of Department Chairwoman of the Crosby High School Guidance Department. Joyce also taught in the Waterbury Public School System and worked as a Resource Teacher for Project Concern in Litchfield, Connecticut.
As a native of Waterbury and a Crosby High School Graduate, Joyce has served on many Boards and Committees throughout the region. She is presently a member of the Palace Theater Board, Waterbury Greenway Advisory Committee and the Holy Cross High School “John DeCesare Make a Difference Dinner Committee.”
She has been the recipient of many awards including, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Waterbury Distinguished Service Award, the Reverend John P. Blanchfield Community Service Award, United Way Community Service Award, Waterbury Neighborhood Council Community Service Award and the Waterbury Youth Service” Shining Star Award” and the Waterbury Beautification Award in memory of John A. DeCesare.
Joyce was named to the National Distinguished Service Registry sponsored by the American Association for Counseling and Development, listed in Who’s Who in American Education and Who’s Who among American Teachers. She was also the recipient of the University of Connecticut Alumni Award in Teaching/ Counseling and the Connecticut Collegiate Awareness and Preparation Program (CONNCAP) Community Award.
Joyce was married to the late John A. DeCesare, one of the founding members of OLLI. His goal and vision were to not only to make the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University recognized throughout the region and country but to also be the recipient of the one million dollar grant (the latter has been accomplished). His passion was to make OLLI a household topic as it was in our home. Because of his love for the program, a fund at the University of Connecticut Foundation in his memory has been developed for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
UConn Faculty Liaison
LAURA DONORFIO, Ph.D – Watertown
Laura Donorfio was born in Waterbury and raised in Watertown, CT. She received an A.S. from Mattatuck Community College in business and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut in Family Studies and Aging. Before beginning her career at UConn in 2004, she worked for six years for The Hartford Financial Services Group and AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) as a Qualitative Research Director and Corporate Gerontology Liaison. Now an Associate Professor in the School of Family Studies, Laura’s teaching and research interests are in the areas of innovative teaching and pedagogical approaches, gerontological education, intergenerational and lifelong learning, and later life dependency issues.
Laura most recently was named a UConn CETL Teaching Fellow (2018) and was chosen for the CLAS Excellence in Teaching Award (Behavioral & Life Sciences, 2018). She also received the “Distinguished Teacher Award” (2009), an international teaching award from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education – recognizing individuals for an outstanding gerontological teaching record accompanied with innovated pedagogy. Laura has been instrumental in developing a solid intergenerational service learning program at UConn’s Waterbury Campus with OLLI. She is excited because she recently turned 50 and can become an OLLI member and take classes!
LINDA C. HALGUNSETH, Ph.D. – Waterbury
Linda is an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Connecticut. Her research focuses on parenting and children’s well-being across low-income African, European, and Latin American families. Prior to working at UConn, she worked as a research associate in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and as a research coordinator at the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She received a BA in psychology and Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin and an MS and Ph.D. in human development and family studies from the University of Missouri.
NANCY WHITNEY – Hamden
Voices & Visions Co-Chair