April 2022 Newsletter

Meet Lu Way

The Park’s New Activities Director


Dale Dauten

Lu Way was conflicted. She’d heard that beloved Activities Director Sue Arneson was retiring and that the job was coming open. She’d already volunteered to help with Activities and thought about applying for the Director’s job, telling herself, “I could step in and help the community I love.” But, then again, while she’d had a long, accomplished career in education, she did not have direct experience. As she succinctly put it: “I didn’t think I was qualified.” Still, she went ahead… and was hired pretty much instantly, as it was clear to everyone but her that she was perfect for the job. Read her story below and see if you don’t agree.


First off, let’s clear up the name. She goes by Lu Way, but her full given name is Luan, which is pronounced “lou-AHN,” which might sound familiar because it’s a type of wood, from the (what-else?) luan tree (native to the Philippines and sometimes called Philippine mahogany). A unique name, but one that most people assumed was pronounced LuAnn, so she eventually grew weary of correcting and explaining and ended up with just Lu.


While Lu was born in Saginaw, Michigan, the family moved to the Chicago area when she was 12, and she lived “all over the Chicago suburbs” until graduating from Glenbrook South High and going on to Northern Illinois University. With her new Bachelor’s in Elementary Ed, she taught for ten years, starting with high school and middle school Biology and then shifting to teaching second grade. With that switch to a lower grade, she went from working in elite private schools to public schools where many students had limited English. And while Lu says “I loved my job, I really did,” she decided to go back to college. She chose National Louis University in Evanston for a Master of Education, specializing in Science Education, and doing her thesis work on bats. Why Science? we wondered. “I love it and wanted to keep it alive in my classroom.”


When we asked how a girl coming of age in Chicago suburbs came to love Science, Lu told us, “When I was in the 7th grade, I had a Science teacher who was really creative in getting us interested. One time he brought us a brown, lunch sack of bones and told us to put the skeleton together. It turned out it was a chicken. And I was hooked.”


Lu took her new degree and moved to Quincy, Illinois and a job in what’s known as a Title 1 school — that’s a school with special Federal funding because of its low-income population. Indeed, 96% of her students qualified as low-income. She taught third-graders and says of those students, “I never knew what I’d walk into. It might be that one of my kids had their mom or dad or brother or sister arrested the night before.”


Nevertheless, she remembers those days fondly, saying, “When I taught in the affluent areas of Chicago, I knew those kids were going to learn with or without me. But those kids in Quincy needed me.”


And Lu devoted herself to her Quincy classes for 18 years (out of a total of 34 years in the classroom). That’s Lu below with her last class.

But as much as she relished her time in the classroom, she decided to set her sights on being a Principal or Superintendent and went back for an Educational Specialist Degree, this one from William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri. But then things started to change in ways she hadn’t expected.

Lu met Ed Way when both were members of a national ham radio organization and, as Lu explained, “For years our paths crossed. Every year we had a get together and Ed was the jokester, the one who got everyone laughing.” They dated, married, and before long, Lu said, “He was talking about retirement. He was already retired and thought I should retire, too.” But she didn’t, not for another four years: “This is the deal I made with Ed. If I retire early, you have to take me where I wear shorts and flip-flops all winter.”

That turned out to be Florida… at first. Then, in 2018, as she explained, “We had friends from an RV club, Sheila and Bill Bishop, who’d be telling us, ‘Come to Arizona.’ But my impression back then was that Arizona was brown. Then I looked at photos of Silveridge and it had green. Ed wanted to try it and he promised me that if I didn’t like it we could go back to Florida. But, of course, I fell in love with Silveridge.”

After arriving at the park in ’18, Lu jumped into park activities: she’s been a kitchen volunteer, been on the Decorators Committee, is the Secretary of the Renter’s Association and has volunteered in the Movie Theater, Bingo and Room 9.


Let’s look at the last of these as Room 9 – that’s Ceramics — became a particular interest for Lu. She says, “I took the classes to become a Duncan certified instructor in Room 9. Since becoming certified I have attended two national week-long ceramics conventions in Vegas and I participate in a monthly zoom class to continuously learn and improve my brush strokes.”


(That’s Lu with one of her ceramics projects.)


It’s that same spirit of learning and teaching that drives Lu in her new role as Activities Director. Speaking of learning, she’s been able shadow the legendary AD Sue Arneson, and is already near to completing the lineup for next season’s shows. Moreover, as many of you know, she undertook a survey about residents’ interests.


Lu shared with us the survey results…


One of the big “winners” in the voting was for a Murder Mystery Dinner Show and Lu has already got one planned. There was also interest in Chair Yoga, Corn Hole and a Book Club.


We were also interested to learn of the park’s music preferences:

TOP FIVE: Country came in first, followed by music of the ‘70s, then ‘60’s, ‘50’s, and Rock. BOTTOM FIVE: R&B, Jazz, Disco, Hip Hop and Rap.


We also know that Lu is planning a new, expanded printed version of the Silveridge Sun. Meanwhile, we will keep you updated over the summer via the online edition of the Sun as to the event schedule for next season. While the Activities Office will be closed, you’ll see Lu around the park until mid-May, when she and Ed go to their granddaughter’s graduation at U of A before heading back to Ouincy for the summer.


And lastly, when we asked Lu our favorite question, the one about the best advice she ever got, she responded with what has to be the perfect answer for an Activities Director, saying,


“Be the reason someone smiles today.”


Lu added, “We don’t know what troubles or worries each person carries, but if we can make them smile, we will have lightened their load for a moment.”

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My Dear Silveridge Family,

How can I thank you enough for the surprise Retirement/Birthday party and all your cards, letters and gifts. I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for your out-pouring of kind words and good wishes. Thank you to Sharon, my friend and assistant, for planning the party and who kept everything a secret. I was surprised! And to Jerry, Tracy, Jill, Penny and all those who helped in the celebration; thank you. The cake was delicious and the decorators made me feel like a princess with their pretty pink decorations. Our events would not be the same without John and Deb getting our tables and chairs set up. Thank you also for the cards and gifts from those of you who could not attend the party. You were there in spirit.

Having my family present and Aileen from the Home office meant so much to me. George’s letter was indeed touching. Our park poetess, Karen Staker wrote the most delightful poem which I will always treasure. Thank you to the SR Band and for all those who attended Jeff and my final “not so surprise” date dance. This last month has been such an emotional high that I need to go home and rest up!

It truly was an honor to serve as your Activity Director these last 12 years. It was the best retirement job ever! Many of you said that you appreciated my prayers before the meals. God has a plan for all of us to use our abilities to help each other. We are blessed to bless others! Thank you again for your friendship, love and support. I will be forever grateful. It’s not goodbye; it’s see you later!

With Love and Appreciation, Sue

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Download Sue’s Letter and Pictures
Photo below: A winter morning at Silveridge, looking out over the Great Lawn to shuffleboard and beyond to lawn bowling.