Since I had so much time on my hands this summer, I started going kayaking at my grandma’s house with my Aunt Katie just about everyday. After we had kayaked the lake, we would go up to the house, eat lunch, and go talk to the neighbor. Before this summer, all I knew about John was his address and that he was one-hundred years old. Anyone that has lived for a century has numerous stories to tell.
I often get caught up in my own world and forget how many important life lessons you can learn from talking to wise people. So the next time opportunity strikes for you to spend time with people older than you, you can ask about their personal history, their perspective of history, and their views on the future.
John was born in 1920 and grew up on a farm in Indiana. He retired from a broad-spanning career, starting out as a farmer, then inventor, entrepreneur, company executive, and finally corporate consultant. He spent the last 40 years of his life retired in Bella Vista, Arkansas. Back in 1980, he commissioned a beautiful home on Lake Windsor designed and built by E. Faye Jones. He enjoyed pontoon rides on the lake, gardening, and attending events at the Walton Arts Center with his longtime friend and companion, Rosalie. They went to these events so often, they have a reserved parking spot and their names engraved on chairs.
John and I had many discussions over the summer where he shared his perspective on business and education. He shared his secrets for success, which include - passion for what you do, attention to detail, being decisive, and the list went on. He gave me good advice and I was an attentive listener.
I tell you all of this because it's very important to talk to the wise, elder members of your community. Not only so you can learn through their experiences, but aging people get so much joy from talking to younger people. It gives them a sense of purpose and something to do. After I went home, most days John would tell my grandma how much it made his day talking to him.
Many people count out old folks because they think they are out of touch but that is very far from the truth. History will repeat itself. If we are not aware of history and learn from it, we are destined to repeat somethings that could be mistakes.
John passed away December 27, 2020 peacefully in his sleep after a long life well lived. I am thankful I had this opportunity to learn more about John and about his journey.
Bentonville West Sophomore