July 2022 Newsletter

The People of the Park…

Cal Gramer

By Dale Dauten

“Anyone you ever meet may become a forever friend –treat them as if they were your best friend.”

That first-rate advice came in response to our favorite question, the one about the best advice you’ve ever gotten. It comes via Cal Gramer who explained that “It was Grandfather Frank who said it to me as I was leaving for my first day of college.”


And it worked for Cal’s career, as he thrived with two of the country’s most influential corporations, P&G and Walmart, not to mention his time in a crime lab, as a State employee, or lately, his leadership roles at Silveridge.

(That’s Cal in the photo below, with his wife Christy, celebrating Cal’s retirement.)


But let’s back up and start at the beginning, with Cal growing up in Princeton, Illinois (a town of about 7500 people, and hence the Cubs shirt in the photo). He says of that era, “They were good times, the 60s. My dad worked for the railroad and then the water company and my mom stayed home. We always had dinner together. We drank out of the garden hose and we stayed out till dark every day.”

(Below: Cal’s comments reminded us of a recent online post.)


Cal went to Illinois State for a degree in Math, Chemistry and Biology. That background led him to teach Algebra and Chemisty at Roanoke High School, where he also coached tennis and golf. That might well have turned into a long-term career, but the Vietnam War had other ideas: “I signed my teaching contract in June and in August I got drafted. But there was a shortage of teachers and the school told the draft board that it would take two or three people to replace me, so they granted me an exemption. But, the following summer I got drafted again and that was it, no exemption.”


(Below: Cal from in his Army days and below, with the Veteran’s quilt presented to him by the Silveridge quilters.)


It was a two-year military commitment and given his background in the sciences, Cal got assigned to the Military Police and ended up running the Crime Lab in Vietnam. The job mostly involved analyzing the drugs that soldiers were caught holding, but it also meant appearing at court martials as an expert witness. With the war winding down, he was transferred to Japan to work in the lab there until his discharge came due.


It sounds like the Army prepared him for an engaging new career, but Cal says, “I had an offer to work in a crime lab in California, but I wanted to get out from a lab, to be around people, and so I took a curriculum development job in Oregon. And I fell in love with the pines and firs and the snow-covered mountains and ended up as Curriculum Director for the State of Oregon.”


That lasted till he had the chance to go to work for Proctor & Gamble, working with food service distributors, and put in 17 years there, taking early retirement when the company made an offer he couldn’t refuse: “They wanted to get more women into management and they offered me a ‘golden parachute.’”


(Cal and Christy playing Mr & Mrs Claus at a Walmart store.)


Cal parachuted out of P&G and right into Walmart, where he became a Regional Manager overseeing a budget of $11 billion and the opening of 10-15 new stores a year. Then, after 20 years, he retired again, saying, “I had said I wanted to work till I was 70 or 75, but my wife’s parents were getting older and I had promised her we would eventually move back to Illinois.”


Cal says of going home to Illinois, “It’s a small town where we grew up. The biggest change was that Mister and Missus Smith were now John and Mary. And we had lots of family – both my sisters were there, and Christy came from a family of six.” Even so, Cal and Christy had plans to escape the winters: “I love Arizona but my wife loves Florida. What happened was we came to visit a cousin at Silveridge – Dave and Beckie Dunshee – and we fell in love with the place. We had a rental for a month but the place was so friendly and we started to get involved – I got into the computer club and lapidary, and silver, and my favorite of everything, water volleyball – and before we left, we bought a place.”


One thing everyone who stays at SIlveridge soon realizes in you can be as busy as you want to be. And clearly, Cal wants to keep busy. Besides that impressive list of activities above, as he heads into his sixth season at the park,

·     he’ll be taking over from Ellen Jones as President of the Renters’ Group. (He says of the assignment, “It’s a good Board. It’s going to be a good year.” )

·     he volunteers for the coffee group, and,

·     is heading up the exploratory group working to evolve Silvercom, the park’s technology club.


As we get closer to the new season at Silveridge, we’ll be bringing you updates on all three of those groups.


But for now, we close with a couple of photos of Cal and Christy, keeping busy at Silveridge.