Originally created 10/25/98

Even more sensational seniors

We didn't have time or space to profile all the outstanding seniors our readers told us about. But here are a few of the other nominees. Thanks to everyone who called and wrote to us.

Maurice Steinberg, 84, of Augusta, is starting to think about retiring from his law practice.

"I'm in the first stages of cutting back," he says. "You get to a stage in your life where you want to . . . do things on your own time. I want to get away from the pressures and the deadlines."

A partner in Steinberg, Steinberg and White, he's been practicing law since he graduated from the University of Georgia's law school in 1935 -- "with a brief intermission to fight a war," he points out. He served in the Navy during World War II.

He and his wife Mary recently moved into a home that he designed and built, hiring all the subcontractors and supervising the construction himself.

A former district president of B'nai Brith, a Jewish humanitarian organization that does civil rights work, Mr. Steinberg was active in the civil rights movement from the beginning. He's also a lifetime vice president of the Southeastern Regional Board of the Anti-Defamation League.

Mr. Steinberg and his wife were honored Saturday by the Jewish Community Center as Humanitarians of the Year for their philanthropic work.

Marian Pittman, 77, of Martinez, retired from her job as secretary to the president of Bankers First in 1982, but, she says, "I knew I wanted to do other things."

And she has.

"I would go absolutely crazy if I had to stay at home," she says. She now works full time as bookkeeper and "general flunkie" for Flowers by Monty, a floral shop owned by her youngest son.

She also serves on the boards of the Columbia County Department of Family and Children Services and the Foundation for Children. Mrs. Pittman is president pro-tem of the Georgia Silver Haired Legislature, a branch of the Georgia General Assembly that is comprised solely of members 60 and older. They write bills and resolutions to present to their legislators, who then present them to the assembly.

"We've improved nursing home staffing, made health insurance portable in case of separation or divorce or the death of a spouse, we've increased homestead exemptions," she says. "We're involved in issues affecting young as well as old."

Mrs. Pittman also sings in the choir at Warren Baptist Church and is active in church activities.

The key to staying active in old age, she says, is exercise. She swims in the summer and walks the rest of the year.

Angie Gahnz, 91, of Augusta, likes the feeling of being light on her feet.

An avid ballroom dancer, she says she most enjoys the cha-cha and the waltz.

"I dance for exercise," she says. "I've been doing it since 1983, and I used to do lots of competitions and showcases."

She's a member of the Augusta Ballroom Dance Association and the Merry Widows Dance Association, which makes an annual trip to the Cloisters at Jekyll Island.

Mrs. Gahnz is also a member of the Cross Country Garden Club, the Retired Officers Auxiliary and the Lutheran Women's League.

The retired second grade teacher is a member of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, where, her pastor Karl Dunker says she stays busy participating in church activities.

Asked how she's managed to stay so active at her age, Mrs. Gahnz doesn't take any of the credit.

"I just love people," she says. "I love being around people. I think that's it."

Ethel Norris, 86, of Mitchell, Ga., in Glascock County, has had a long career as a registered nurse, and still works two days a week at Warrenton Health and Rehabilitation Center and one weekend a month at Gibson Nursing Home.

"It's a joy to go in and have everybody glad to see me and loving me and me loving them," she said. "I'm thankful I can still do it."

"She's a real inspiration to all the folks here," said Chris Purser, administrator at Warrenton Health and Rehab.

Ms. Norris also teaches adult women's Sunday School at Mill Creek Baptist Church in Glascock County.

Virginia Zachert, 78, of Augusta, is speaker of the house for the National Silver Haired Congress and a member of the Georgia Silver Haired Legislature, political advocacy groups comprised of people over 60. A retired Medical College of Georgia professor, Dr. Zachert says her main goal with these organizations is to be an advocate for the elderly.

"It's an opportunity to educate seniors and the elderly as to how our government actually works," she says. "Many people know nothing about how to have any impact with legislators and how you go about making a difference. We've lived a long time and have a lot of good ideas that somebody ought to pay attention to."

Her political involvement keeps her on the road frequently. The National Silver Haired Congress meets annually in Washington, D.C., and she recently went to Springfield, Mo., for a committee meeting and will soon go to Dallas for another.

"I've been working harder than I ever did when I was employed," she said.

Dr. Zachert, the daughter of a Baptist minister, is an active member of Modoc Baptist Church.

Nelle Ford, 77, of North Augusta, says giving to others is what keeps her going.

Most of the activities that occupy her day involve doing something for someone else, whether it's visiting a homebound acquaintance or giving fresh-baked sourdough bread to neighbors.

"I just think it's one of the grandest things in the world to serve people," she said. "My aim in life is to help those who need help."

When she's not busy volunteering or teaching Sunday School at First Baptist Church of North Augusta, Mrs. Ford enjoys spending time with her pals from Augusta's Senior Friends organization and the Sheffield Club, a senior citizens' club at her church. She has traveled a lot with these groups -- to Mexico, Missouri, Tennessee. She says it helps her stay young.

Her favorite leisure activity -- the one she says she'll never give up -- is line dancing. She loves to do the Electric Slide and the Boot Scoot Boogie with the friends.

Her husband died in 1995, so line dancing is perfect for her, she says, "because you don't have to have a partner."


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