Henry Garwick (B.M.E. ’49) took early retirement from his job as an engineer at age 55, but he has never retired. Instead, he has spent close to four decades lending his brainpower and elbow grease to addressing global hunger and poverty.
Garwick, 93, and his wife Dorothea (B.A. ’51), lived and volunteered in India for five years in the 1980s. Henry directed a technical school and Dorothea taught English and journalism. The couple continued traveling to India and Haiti for many years after while Henry worked on a variety of food projects. He became one of the earliest volunteer technical experts for Compatible Technology International (CTI), a nonprofit that helps farmers in developing countries create simple, hand-powered tools to harvest crops more efficiently.
In 2012, at age 89, Garwick and two CTI colleagues won the Peace Engineering Breadfruit Drying Contest, sponsored by the University of St. Thomas, for creating a faster way to dry breadfruit, a carbohydrate-rich produce that grows abundantly in tropical nations but rots in just 48 hours. Garwick’s secret to staying active into his 90s? “Have something to do.”
Except for a brief stint in Panama during WWII, Philip Maus (M.D. ’53) spent his entire 40-year career as a doctor in Dawson, a small town in the southwest corner of Minnesota. He says he landed there almost by accident, but he enjoyed the community so much that he returned after the war and quickly became a town leader and booster, a role he has maintained since retiring 20 years ago. “The community of Dawson has been very good to me and my family, so I wanted to give back,” he says.
Maus, 88, has been the chairman or president of almost every organization in town, including the Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, and Dawson Community Foundation, a spinoff of the McKnight Foundation’s Southwest Initiative that helps rural Minnesota towns develop and modernize. Maus’s most recent initiative has been to apply on behalf of Dawson and area towns for the Blandin Leadership Program for training younger emerging leaders. He recently took an Alumni Association-sponsored workshop on creativity, because he believes that thinking outside of the box, along with optimism, are vital to solving the issues facing his community.
Ask Ann Pflaum (Ph.D. ’75) any question about the University’s history, and you will get an answer—or many answers, that is, including dates, names, quotes, and multiple stories to illustrate the point. As an employee of the University for 30 years and resident historian for the past 16, Pflaum’s institutional knowledge spans everything from the grassroots origins of the Weisman Art Museum to the man behind the University’s eminent tradition of surgeons.
Pflaum herself made history in the 1970s as the University’s Title IX Coordinator, implementing the sweeping changes that introduced broad gender equity measures—much beyond athletics, she is quick to mention—followed by measures to ensure equity for people with disabilities. She is energized and inspired by what she calls the University’s “emphasis on democracy with a lower case ‘d,’ helping the average person.”
What keeps her working at 75? The community and values of the U, she says. “It helps to be connected to an institution of people that will go the extra mile to help people, who care about our community.”
Tom Swain (B.S.B. ’42) celebrated his 95th birthday in September with students at the Humphrey School. As usual, he inspired and empowered the partygoers, who were all recipients of the Thomas H. Swain Fellowship in Public Leadership. Swain hosts a luncheon every year for the fellows, all pursuing a Master of Public Affairs degree, to talk about their careers and lives as well as discuss the latest happenings in politics and policy.
“I love the phrase he uses, ‘It’s better to wear out, than to rust out,’” says fellow Matthew Johnson (M.P.A. ’13). “I take that to mean if you have breath in your body, experience you can pass on, or relationships you can form or influence, you’re obligated to do so. If you have an ability, you can do something.”
The fellowship is just one of many influences Swain has had in a significant career of public service, which has included higher education, health care, and politics—at 85, he became mayor of the small Twin Cities suburb of Lilydale. When Swain was honored last fall at the Humphrey’s School’s annual John Brandl Lecture, he succinctly distilled the way he has lived his life: “You’re never too old to take risks.”
With six decades of singing with the Apollo Club under his belt, 94-year-old Dean Chenoweth (B.M.E. ’43, B.S.B. ’48) doesn’t feel like it’s anything special to be the oldest member of the group. “I don’t think of myself as the oldest guy,” he says. “It doesn’t seem to matter how old you are.”
Chenoweth learned of the Apollo Club in 1948 when a friend sold him a ticket to a concert. After hearing the group, he says, “I was really, really interested in joining. It sounded like a group that I could fit in.” The club does all kinds of music, but, Chenoweth says, “it’s the sound they produce that touched me. The harmony . . . being surrounded by that kind of music, I find it very satisfying.”
The group sings all songs by heart, some 15 to 20 per concert, and Chenoweth says it’s a bit harder to memorize the songs than it used to be. “But if I work at it, I can get it.”