This month, we bring you stories of some seniors who have made their mark on the world, and in one case, on other people’s skin. These seniors are serving their communities and the world at large by inspiring those around them. Caregivers, home care aides and loved ones alike can appreciate the example these unstoppable seniors are setting.
Last month, San Diego and ocean lovers from around the world celebrated the 100th birthday of Scripps Institution of Oceanography rock star, Walter Munk. In October, the city of San Diego honored him by adding his name to the boardwalk in La Jolla Shores, and Prince Albert of Monaco, a life-long environmentalist, came to his birthday celebration at Scripps. Though born in pre-war Austria, Walter Munk made La Jolla his home in 1939 and spent his career in California and in its waters. Now a Research Professor Emeritus of Geophysics at UCSD, Walter Munk is also still the Secretary of the Navy/Chief of Naval Operations Oceanography Chair at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. He joined Scripps in 1939, after graduating from CalTech, by taking a summer job, and joined the Army’s ski troops in response to Germany’s ‘annexation’ of Austria by Anschluss. But he was quickly moved from the ski team back to Scripps where he joined the team working on amphibious assault research and science. The Allied landings in Normandy, North Africa and the Pacific all relied on his team’s predictions of surf conditions in these disparate areas. After a M.S. and PhD, Munk founded The Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics in La Jolla in the late 1950s, as part of the UC system. From there, he went on to theorize, research and discover much of what we know about ocean temperatures, planetary physics, tides, wind, and ocean acoustics. He’s won too many awards to list, in his career, but you don’t earn the nickname ‘The Einstein of the Oceans’ for nothing!
Tattoos, once taboo and edgy, are as commonplace as nose piercings or ear gauges. Americans who want to mark their bodies forever are choosing butterflies, quotes or phrases that are sometimes spelled properly, hanzi characters or logographs whose meaning they think they know, and even bicep-enhancing barbed wire or ‘tribal’ designs. Double mastectomy survivors, the depressed or suicidal, and survivors of assault wear deeply meaningful tattoos with pride. But in Manila, body art lovers from all over the Philippines waited hours recently for the chance to get a traditional ethnic Butbut design from a 101-year-old tattoo artist. Whang-od Oggay charged 300 pesos to use a wooden stick and thorns to inject natural ink – a mixture of water and charcoal – under the skin of her lucky clients. Whang-od is accepted to be the last and oldest practitioner of Kalinga tattooing, and she designs and inks her own art on her willing clients. Each design is based on the traditions of her people, where tattoos were awarded to male warriors for protecting the people of the tribe. In October, she was nominated to become a National Living Treasure of the Philippines.
This summer, former Cox San Diego head honcho Bill Geppert rode his bicycle across the country. Accompanied by his wife in an RV and occasionally on her own bike, Bill rode 3500 miles and successfully raised $153,000 along the way for the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Although he retired from Cox in 2011 as Senior VP and General Manager, Bill started his third temporary role as CEO of a San Diego organization on October 30. During his 16 years building Cox in San Diego, he also served on the boards of many San Diego philanthropies, and he briefly led the San Diego Economic Development Corp., and the Challenged Athletes Foundation as CEO post-retirement. Bill Geppert may be retired, but he is a champion for San Diego.