There are many hidden gems in Stamford and its surrounding communities, but Learning in Retirement, also known as “LIR,” is a unique one. It is a non-profit, volunteer, educational organization dedicated to continuing the quest for knowledge of intellectually curious seniors. Founded in 1991, several of its founders remain active in its leadership. It also boasts a loyal following of local retirees who have been absorbing its lessons from the beginning. Quite telling, too, is the fact that its students remain year after year, and so do most of its popular lecturers. As one of LIR’s founders, Helen Ueberbacher, remarked, “This is an organization for seniors who are more interested in learning than entertainment.” Consequently, the long-standing course that are offered ar very “meaty.”
LIR has never had to advertise for students. It has grown by word-of-mouth. Many of its classes fill up quickly and a number become oversubscribed. In fact, one of the most popular classes reaches capacity enrollment on the first day of registration, and this is despite the fact that the subject matter is “t.b.a!” Students know that, whatever the topic is, it will be cover completely, fairly and they will come away from the class with a greater understanding than they had when they entered. Some of the more popular classes include those in literature, opera, cinema, classical music and jazz, as well as programs discussing current economic and political trends, history and religion.
Begun in 1991, with George Reiss as president and Helen Ueberbacher as vice president, LIR has resided at several locations. Since 2011, it has been meeting at Temple Beth El on Roxbury Road. Originally LIR operated with a connection to Elderhostel (now known as Road Scholar). But, after a number of years, LIR assumed independence from Elderhostel, although it continued to send them its programs. With pride it can be said that these programs have been esteemed by Elderhostel, and on occasion, have been recommended to Elderhostlers in the area.
Besides its’ founders, Reiss and Ueberbacher, many of those involved in LIR’s leadership have given many years of devoted service and are still very much involved. Among these are June and Robert Langenhan, Betty Roberts, Evelyn Fowler, Peg Mooney, Barbara Pels, Frieda and Gene Shapiro. Recent additions to the board, Gilda Axiotakis, Steve Cole, Mort Lowenthal, Louise Stern and Al Wolfson further increase the board’s diversity and expertise. The late Tom Kane and Robert Herzog are remembered for their contributions.
Helen Ueberbacher still makes up the curriculum and Betty Roberts, as treasurer, has been handling financial records since 2002. Evelyn Fowler, as secretary, has kept the minutes for an equally long period. LIR’s present board of directors includes many of the “old guard” but each year it is enriched by members who have become involved more recently. Ray Ketchum is president of the board and vice presidents are Tom Tully and Helen Ueberbacher.
LIRs fall term begins mid September and ends in early November. The winter/spring term resumes in late January and ends mid-May. A course catalogue can be obtained by calling 203-595-0398.