• Floating in the wind: Laura Stewart became balloon pilot to enjoy the ‘fun’
    By Deborah Storey | Living 50 Plus Laura Stewart once landed her hot-air balloon in a field of cows that rambled over to investigate the stranger from the skies. They “thought we might have food,” Stewart recalled. That’s the thing about piloting a hot-air balloon — you never know exactly where you’ll end up. As
  • Riding the River: Decatur man’s passion for dragon boating
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Perched on the edge of the wooden seat, Mike Ward braced his feet on the floor of the boat, stretched his arms out over the water and shoved the paddle into Flint Creek. That was his introduction to dragon boating. “I didn’t have a clue what dragon boating
  • Room to walk: Bill Cassidy, 88, covers the miles indoors and out
    By Bruce McLellan | Living 50 Plus Bill Cassidy exited his kitchen, walked briskly past the dining room table and went into the living room. He then turned left into the foyer, moved into the hall and picked up his pace as he walked past a grandfather clock. He arrived back at his starting point
  • Making waves at 91: Daily swims keep Nagel healthy and mentally sharp
    By Deborah Storey | Living 50 Plus Jack Nagel of Decatur has a simple explanation for why he’s still swimming in his 90s. “For my health,” he said. “That’s why I’m 91.” Get ready to feel guilty, you workout slackers. This inspiring senior citizen swims 30-minute pool sessions at least five days a week. Nagel
  • Living History: Rev. Wylheme Ragland keeps Decatur’s past alive
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Tucked away in the corner of libraries and archives in north Alabama, Tuscaloosa and Atlanta, the Rev. Wylheme Ragland spends hundreds of hours each year researching the past. “History, specifically African-American history, is my passion,” the 76-year-old Ragland said. “If I am doing research, I may stay up
  • Mexican immigrant finds success in Decatur
    By Wes Tomlinson | Living 50 Plus When talking about work ethic and the immigrant’s journey to obtain the American dream, Hispanic residents near Central Parkway and 14th Street Southwest smile when they talk about the success of Decatur resident Alfredo Chavez, a man respectfully referred to as El Jefe (The Boss). Chavez, who turns
  • All Hail the Queen: Margaret Wenzler instrumental since Carnegie Carnival’s debut
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Eleven years ago, a small group gathered inside the Carnegie Visual Arts Center to discuss ways to raise money for the nonprofit arts center. From that meeting came an idea for a Mardi Gras-style fundraiser. They called it Carnegie Carnival, which has become one of the most popular
  • How to be a trouper getting ready for a child’s or grandchild’s wedding
    By Emma Daniel | Living 50 Plus Having children or grandchildren getting married can be stressful for everyone involved, but local wedding coordinators say being supportive is the key to parents, grandparents and the new couple having a good time at the wedding. Carlee Koehler, owner of the Event Planner event coordination service in Huntsville,
  • O Christmas tree: Decorations involving 15 trees transform Hartselle home for holidays
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus When asked to give advice to those new to decorating for the holidays, Dena Stephenson — a self-described “non-recovering Christmasaholic” — said, without hesitation, “Don’t do it.” Then she laughed. “Seriously, do what you can manage and then try to stop, but you might not be able to
  • Bejeweled Benevolence: Decatur woman creates memory trees as a benefit for the NCC
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Tucked away inside the closet of a guest bedroom, Martha Newman gets to work. Armed with a glue gun, cone-shaped shiny paper, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, watches and broaches, the 75-year-old Decatur woman creates glitzy and sparkly bejeweled trees. She calls the creations memory trees. Each bead, pendant and
  • Festive Flavors: Locals share holiday recipes
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus The sound of carols filling stores and sight of wreaths on doors can mean one thing — the arrival of the winter holidays. ‘Tis the season for baking cookies, roasting meats and mulling apple ciders. As family and friends gather for festive celebrations, home cooks will turn to
  • Making the right call: Decatur attorney travels South officiating college football
    By Bruce McLellan | Living 50 Plus On most Fridays this fall, Erick Pratt completed work at his law practice in Decatur by lunchtime, climbed into his 2018 Nissan Altima and traveled to college football games across the Southeast — in places like Chattanooga; Macon, Georgia; and Spartanburg, South Carolina. He didn’t go to watch
  • 180 years of experience: Four original employees at GE Appliances’ Decatur plant still there after 45 years
    By Erica Smith | Living 50 Plus Dale Higdon choked up recently as he reminisced about what his grandfather told him when he got a job with GE Appliances’ new plant in Decatur and became one of 77 employees who started there Aug. 15, 1977. “Boy, you got the chance of a lifetime,” Higdon’s grandfather
  • Making Music Memories: Amateur dulcimer players jam weekly at senior center
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Sliding her fingers along the strings of the dulcimer’s neck, Lori Matthews picked out the recognizable tune of “Oh, Susannah.” “The dulcimer is very easy to learn but takes a lifetime to master,” the 64-year-old Matthews said. Every Wednesday morning, amateur musicians, some wheeling laundry baskets carrying dulcimer
  • Gem of an Artist: Decatur jewelry-maker creates modern and contemporary pieces
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Leigh Ann Hurst never considered herself creative. That changed, though, when her mother, Glenda Sartain, dropped by with some gemstones. “It was the summer of 2009. She had gotten the gemstones to entertain my niece with. They made necklaces and my mother asked me to do it with
  • Seniors turning 65 can reduce property tax bite in Alabama
    By Michael Wetzel | Living 50 Plus Homeowners turning 65 can reduce their property tax by having the state portion of the tax bite exempt if they apply for it by Dec. 31. Morgan County Revenue Commissioner Amanda Scott said about 7,500 senior homeowners in the county are taking advantage of the age-related homestead exemption.
  • Call for holiday recipes
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Do you have special dishes or sweets you make for the winter holiday? Living 50 Plus wants to know about your favorite festive foods, including cookies, pies, casseroles and side dishes. We’ll share as many submitted recipes as possible in the December issue of the Living 50 Plus
  • Classic style: Retired educator Cameron loves restoring, showing and driving old cars
    By Bruce McLellan | Living 50 Plus Bob Cameron has an expression he uses when discussing some of the classic cars he has owned. “You don’t see yourself coming in that one very often,” Cameron said recently. He was referring to the red, 1948 Cadillac convertible that he restored and has kept for more than
  • Champion for Children: Decatur woman follows passion to impact city’s youth
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus A chance encounter with Bruce Jones, then director of Decatur Youth Services, at Walmart 18 years ago opened the door for Kurtistyne White to pursue what would become her calling. “My background is in military. I only thought about working with kids after I had my sons and
  • At 61, Trail has energy to build multiple projects, including miniature Stonehenge
    By Wes Tomlinson | Living 50 Plus At the crack of dawn and then again into the sunset each evening, Bill Trail works on projects at his Southeast Decatur house, and he recently completed a miniature Stonehenge replica in his front yard. Trail, 61, has a strict work ethic that enables him to work and
  • Still sparkling at 81: Jeweler stays active helping others, refurbishing vintage items
    By Michael Wetzel | Living 50 Plus PRICEVILLE — For 81-year-old Kenneth Stuart, going to work every day is the “medicine” that keeps him alive and active. Manager of The Jeweler and More business in Priceville for the past seven years, Stuart said it is important for him and other seniors to stay busy with
  • Still Serving: American Legion offers veterans friendships and ways to help others
    By Michael Wetzel | Living 50 Plus More than 300 military veterans in Morgan County find fellowship, comfort and a sense of belonging when they visit the American Legion Post 15 on U.S. 31 South in Decatur. But most of all, the membership, with an average age in the mid-60s, concentrates on community service, post
  • Water Warrior: Two-time cancer survivor jumps headfirst into swimming
    As told to Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Four years ago, after completing rounds of chemotherapy and radiation during his second battle with colon cancer, Haruki Yokochi searched for a way to stay healthy. “After I got cancer the first time, I went to the gym five days a week and lifted weights and
  • Love of Learning: Decatur teacher retires after 40 years in education
    By Wes Tomlinson | Staff Writer In 40 years of teaching elementary school, Carol Shaw said she has learned just as much from her students as they have from her, and she encourages young teachers to develop and maintain a “children-first” mentality. “You have to know where your kids are coming from,” Shaw said. “I
  • Thirst for Knowledge: Decatur woman introduced to art, Italian, pickleball and mixology through lifelong learning institute
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Four decades after graduating from college, Betty Koval returned to school in 2016. In the past six years, the 68-year-old Decatur woman took classes on drawing, beginning Italian, mahjong, pickleball, tai chi, pandemics through the arts, stress relief, tailgating foods and mixology. “I have had the most fun.
  • Youthful outlook: At 55, Pickett spends life helping local young people
    By Bayne Hughes | Living 50 Plus Kids in Decatur Youth Services programs call him “Mr. Rico,” and it’s a term of both respect and endearment for Enrico Pickett Sr. Although he’s 55, Pickett spends much of his life helping those much younger, whether he’s coordinating Youth Services sports leagues, teaching health and sex education or
  • Firing up a new career: Hines started brick oven pizza business 5 years ago at age 57
    By Tim Nail | Living 50 Plus Susan Hines, 62, of Hartselle, packed her suitcase for an excursion to Italy at the end of March. She wasn’t just getting ready for a vacation. For her, this trip also aimed to further her knowledge of Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. “I’m going to take a pasta cooking
  • ‘All shook up’: Hartselle High worker Hollis keeps king of rock ‘n’ roll’s legacy alive
    By Wes Tomlinson | Living 50 Plus Bobby Hollis smiled as he remembered the first times he heard the iconic voice of Elvis Presley. “My (siblings) were constantly bringing his albums into the house when we were growing up,” Hollis said. “Back then, you had the black-and-white TVs and AM radio if you were lucky
  • Up, up and away: Balloonist Brian Dial enjoys family involvement in ballooning as Jubilee approaches
    By Bruce McLellan | Living 50 Plus Flying north from Hartselle toward Decatur in his hot-air balloon decorated with strips of bright colors, Brian Dial found himself in a jam. A relatively new balloon pilot at the time, he wanted to land before his flight got too long. But as he hovered over woods near
  • Boomers’ Retirement Concerns Evolve After Pandemic
    By Dewayne Eddy For many who are decades away from leaving the workforce, retirement may seem like an abstract concept. But once you’ve entered your late fifties — like the youngest Baby Boomers, turning 57 in 2021 — retirement may begin to seem very real. A recent survey of Boomers found that because of the
  • NARCOG focuses on quality of life for seniors
    By Michael Wetzel | Living 50 Plus Senior citizens in Morgan, Lawrence and Cullman counties don’t have to look far for free legal services, answers to Medicare questions, transportation assistance, prescription drug discounts and meals. The North Central Alabama Regional Council of Governments, NARCOG for short, utilizes state and federal money to provide those programs.
  • Ronnie Dukes still running strong at 73
    By Michael Wetzel | Living 50 Plus Ronnie Dukes vividly remembers crossing the finish line in his first road race. The year was 1979, and the race was the inaugural River City Run, a 10-kilometer race, now in its 43rd year. “The feeling I had when I crossed the finish line was something I had
  • Parading with the Pirates: You’re ‘never too old’ to join the fun at Decatur’s Carnegie Carnival
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Dressed in tricorn hats, bandanas, frock coats, flowy lace-up shirts and skeleton accessories — the typical wardrobe for a Decatur pirate — members of Crewe O’ Ye Crooked Goat entertain and amuse crowds at the Mardi Gras-style Carnegie Carnival parade every year. Consisting mainly of individuals 50 and
  • Staying busy is fine art for Decatur’s Rick Henry
    By Bruce McLellan | Living 50 Plus Rick Henry reached a crossroad in 2004. “My kids were gone. They went off to college and then went off and got married. I had some free time,” the Southwest Decatur resident said. In his early 50s at the time, he began thinking about what he’d do to
  • Dewayne Eddy: Retirement Plan Limits on the Rise in 2022
    By Dewayne Eddy Many IRA and retirement plan limits are indexed for inflation each year. Although the amount you can contribute to IRAs remains the same in 2022, other key numbers will increase, including how much you can contribute to a work-based retirement plan and the phaseout thresholds for IRA deductibility and Roth contributions. HOW
  • Jumping into the New Year: Meet the Decatur man who started the city’s Polar Bear Plunge
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Standing on the dock of the Riverwalk Marina and Boat Harbor as cars streamed past on the bridge 37 years ago, Wayne Holliday jumped into the bone-chilling waters of the Tennessee River — beginning a Decatur New Year’s Day tradition that now attracts dozens of people every year.
  • Haul out the Holly: Decorating for the Holiday Season
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus When Linda Miller moved into her Sherman Street home in Decatur’s Albany neighborhood, she quickly learned of the historic district’s tradition of decorating for the holidays. “If you live in Albany or Old Decatur, decorating for the holidays is something you just do,” the 54-year-old Miller said. “My
  • Sweet smells of the holidays: Aromas from treats help recall the past, build new memories
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Pat Price remembers the smell of the old-fashioned Lane cake baking in her mother’s kitchen during the holidays. Now, Price is instilling those memories in her 10 grandchildren. “Their favorite thing is what we call crack green beans, which are covered with a pound of cooked bacon and
  • Social Security’s uncertain future: What You Should Know
    By Dewayne Eddy Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, which means today’s workers are paying taxes for the benefits received by today’s retirees. However, demographic trends such as lower birth rates, higher retirement rates, and longer life spans are causing long-run fiscal challenges. There are simply not enough U.S. workers to support the growing number
  • Holiday films families can enjoy together at the Princess Theater
    By Lori Few | Living 50 Plus The holiday season is steeped in tradition. Few traditions may elicit more collective belly laughs than watching holiday movies with your loved ones, especially grandkids, and friends. To celebrate the holiday season, the historic Princess Theatre will screen a series of Christmas movies at the downtown Decatur performing
  • Adventure of a lifetime: At age 60, Decatur man travels 3,800 miles through Midwest to enjoy Americana such as the Corn Palace, Matchstick Marvels and Mount Rushmore
    By Cameron Reeder | Living 50 Plus Cameron Reeder is a resident of Decatur who wrote this account of his trip through the Midwest for Living 50 Plus. I tuned 60 on June 22. What happened? Suddenly, I find that I am old. Wasn’t I just 18 last year? I think everyone has asked these
  • Rekindling a longtime love: Terry Connor lets his artistic talent flow in retirement and enjoys teaching others
    By Emily Griffith | Living 50 Plus Many struggle to find purpose in retirement after a lifetime of hard work. For Terry Connor, retirement is a blessing that has allowed him to accelerate his art. “I’m cranking out picture after picture because I’m at peace, I don’t have to worry about work (and) I’m in
  • Already a runner, archer, weightlifter and cyclist, Falkville Councilman Charlie Gover is taking up scuba diving at 70
    By Michael Wetzel | Living 50 Plus Charlie Gover isn’t about to slow down at age 70. The former high school coach who serves on the Falkville Town Council has just begun taking scuba diving lessons. He’s fitting the lessons in between weightlifting, pickleball, table tennis, archery, bicycle riding, spelunking and running. Gover goes out
  • Building for the future: 3 retired women in 60s and 70s still teaching youngest generation
    By Bruce McLellan | Living 50 Plus Edith Garner sat beside 4-year-old Adam Vargas and told him they would read a book together. “Talk to me,” said Garner, a volunteer at Maxine Ellison Decatur Youth Enrichment Learning Center. “What’s your name?” Adam looked at her silently. Garner, who spent a quarter century with Decatur City
  • The job is never complete for these retired men
    By Emily Griffith | Living 50 Plus Habitat for Humanity volunteer Sam Beadle grew up in a low-income family, so he understands the importance of a home. As the ninth out of 10 kids in a three-room home, he knows what families in the Habitat program are going through. That makes his efforts with the program
  • Chip off the old block: Terry Carver takes up a crafty pastime at 69
    By Tim Nail | Living 50 Plus When Terry Carver retired four years ago, he didn’t want to spend all of his time relaxing. “I just like to stay busy,” said Carver, now 69. “I don’t like to sit around and do nothing in the daytime.” So after a career in the U.S. Air Force
  • Get your backpack, plan for retirement and enjoy the journey
    By Ron Stokes I am a backpacker (noun).  That is, I regularly hike or travel carrying everything I may need in a backpack. I backpack (verb) because I love being outside and exploring areas best seen on foot.  I am also a CPA (nerd) and I am forced to spend extended periods of time indoors
  • Triple Threat: Triathlons provide challenge for Decatur man
    Most mornings, Conley Brannon laces up his latest Oakley sneakers — he goes through a pair every three to six months — and hits the hills of Burningtree Mountain. At 50 years old, the Decatur man credits running, which he returned to seven years ago, for keeping him healthy.
  • Litter Getter: Athens woman on a mission to clear community of trash
    By Catherine Godbey | Staff Writer Sitting on the front porch, frustrated by the shutdown triggered by the pandemic, Laverne Gilbert began to talk to God. “I retired in 2019 and had these big plans of going on a cruise and traveling. But I was doing nothing because of COVID. I began meditating and asking
  • The thrill of victory: Competition still drives Decatur runner Cocciolo at age 77
    By Bruce McLellan | Living 50 Plus The only thing Tony Cocciolo of Decatur loves more than competing in running events throughout north Alabama at age 77 is winning his age division in them. So he paid close attention during a pre-race chat several years ago when an unfamiliar runner divulged his age. Cocciolo realized
  • Tickled with pickleball: Sport offers competition, exercise and fun for all ability levels
    By Bruce McLellan | Living 50 Plus Allen Kinworthy sat in the Aquadome Recreation Center bleachers and breathed deeply in between games of pickleball. He served as tangible evidence that the once-obscure sport can provide a workout. “It gets the cardio back up,” acknowledged Kinworthy, a Decatur resident who says he’s older than 60. “Where
  • On the cutting edge
    By Steve Irvine | Living 50 Plus DECATUR — At the age of 78, J. Hugh Looney still works 10-hour days styling hair and goes snow skiing on premier slopes in the western United States. He also finds time to garden and repair old sports cars and lawn mowers. The Morgan County native has been
  • Rolling Along
    By Bruce McLellan | Living 50 Plus You might say Lewis White’s love of cycling started out of necessity.“In college I worked at Walmart,” he said. “I didn’t have a car, so I rode a bike to work. Fromthat point forward, I’ve been riding a bike nearly every day.”Now 56 and principal at Priceville High
  • Don’t let COVID-19 fears keep you from seeking medical help in other life-threatening situations
    By Melissa Erickson | Living 50 Plus Avoiding medical care because of fears of contracting COVID-19 could mean the difference between life and death. For major medical issues such as heart attack and stroke, the benefits of quickly getting care are much, much higher, said Dr. B.J. Hicks, OhioHealth vascular neurologist and co-director of the
  • A day trip to the state’s largest city can unveil some oft over-looked historical gems
    By Lisa Elia | Living 50 Plus BIRMINGHAM – For a city whose theater district once rivaled that of New York’s, it’s only fitting today that it’s undergoing a second act and the reviews, so far, are glowing. From its foodie-loving restaurants that have filled once-shuttered storefronts to its green spaces that have breathed new
  • Starks’ passion for plants gives her purpose in retirement
    By Steve Irvine | Living 50 Plus Can you imagine a life without gardening? Philda Starks doesn’t need time to ponder the question. It takes her about as much time to respond as perhaps it did for her to begin falling in love with gardening as a young child. Starks, 62, grew up in Somerville,
  • The Power of Poses: Yoga helps seniors gain strength and flexibility while relieving stress
    By Catherine Godbey | Living 50 Plus Across north Alabama, inside gyms, church buildings and an arts center, people gather to practice breathing, stretching and balance. Some come to relieve stress and increase core strength. Others come out of curiosity. “Simple curiosity and an invitation from a friend were my introduction to yoga. I was