OLLI at UAH Discovers the Legacy of the von Braun Rocket Team Families
Photo Above: Klaus Rosinski (left) and Uwe Hueter (right) sharing their experiences as children of the Rocket Team.
Photo Below: (left to right) Course organizers and guest speakers Chris Stuhlinger, Fred Ordway, Rick Chappell, Peter Finzel, Heidi Collier, Rainer Klauss, Samantha Hereford and Brooks Moore gather during the last session of the course.
Imagine growing up in a small southern town where rocket test firings rattle the windowpanes and the school children hang out watching the smoke and fire knowing their parents were working on the extraordinary mission to land humans on the Moon by 1969.

That town is the city of Huntsville, Alabama, known as "The Rocket City." To better understand the legacy and contributions of the original rocket team members and their families, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) members had the opportunity to attend a mesmerizing four-week course this summer titled The Experiences of the von Braun Rocket Team Families.

The course was organized and led by Chris Stuhlinger, Heidi Weber Collier, and Rainer Klauss. Their fathers emigrated from Germany to be part of the von Braun Rocket Team. Guest speakers were friends of course organizers who were also rocket team children (German and American). Special guest, Brooks Moore, attended the last session and shared his almost 30 years of experience and perspective as an American member of the von Braun rocket team.  

 “Huntsville is where we are today because of the cooperation between the Germans and Americans to create a new life following World War II’’ said Stuhlinger. “In 1950, it was a small southern town known for its watercress production and cotton mills.’’ Today, Huntsville is a mecca for aerospace, defense, and technology programs.

The German influence is found everywhere in Huntsville. The children of the original immigrant families are bilingual and many married Americans. Some settled atop Monte Sano Mountain, some nestled into the Blossomwood neighborhood, and others found homes in Colonial Hills and Darwin Downs.
While fathers and mothers worked diligently to create a new life, the children became part of the arts, sports, and culture of a growing city. They benefited from the founding of the Wernher von Braun Astronomical Society, the symphony orchestra, and the von Braun Civic Center. The University of Alabama in Huntsville transformed, offering graduate courses in engineering and science after von Braun addressed the Alabama Legislature, “It’s the university climate that brings the business. Let’s be honest with ourselves. It’s not water, or real estate, or labor or cheap taxes that brings industry to a state or city. It’s brainpower.”  

The genius and charisma of the German engineers was popularized through television and magazines encouraging the exploration of space in the 1950s. Ernst Stuhlinger, Chris’ father, advised Walt Disney about a Mission to Mars TV program, which was used to promote Tomorrowland at Disneyland.

From 1956 to 1960, Chris’ father worked as a physicist for the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) coordinating research programs, conducting active research and the development of electric propulsion systems. In fact, he would help develop the scientific payload for America’s first artificial satellite, “Explorer 1’’ in 1958.

“We successfully accomplished our course’s main goal - rekindling an interest in the birth of America’s space program, both among OLLI members who participated and among our speakers’’ said Stuhlinger. “As we researched and prepared our presentations, memories were re-awakened, and new information was learned and exchanged about how our families adjusted to life in the U.S. Who knows if our space program will again enjoy the glory years experienced during the 1950s and 60s, but we hope those memories will remain with us as we enter the next phase of America’s space exploration story.’’

Submitted by: Ale Pacheco, OLLI at University of Alabama in Huntsville
engAGED Partnership Nets Webinar on Older Adult Learning and Technology
engAGED, The National Resource Center for Engaging Older Adults, is an effort to increase the social engagement of older adults, people with disabilities. Administered by USAging, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (formerly known as n4a), engAGED identifies and disseminates information about emerging trends, best practices, develops social engagement resources, and replication strategies that the Aging Network can customize for use in their communities. This resource center, is a partnership of long-standing and respected organizations including: Generations United, Older Adults Technology (OATS) and the National Center for Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes.

On August 27, in conjunction with partners at USAging, the Osher NRC participated in a special webinar Older Adult Learning and Technology: Best Practices and Resources. As the description stated, “Providing opportunities for older adults to develop and expand their technology knowledge and skills helps to support social engagement.”

Alex Glazebrook, Director of Operations, from Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) described options and best practices for teaching technology to older adults, shared some of their key resources and highlighted emerging practices for hybrid in-person and online learning. Holly Brugman, Program Coordinator of Specialized Programs, from Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging shared information on their Bridging the Digital Divide program, including lessons learned, outcomes and tips for others to consider in replicating the program. And Steve Thaxton, Executive Director, from the Osher NRC shared how the Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes offer educational opportunities to older adults, with an emphasis on technology training and online learning opportunities during the pandemic throughout the national Osher Network of 125 Institutes.

The webinar was promoted on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and in the engAGED partners’ networks. It resulted in nearly 500 registrants and was well received by the viewers, who felt it contained interesting insights into working with older adults and technology. Click here to watch a recording of the webinar. Click here to visit the engAGED website for more background on this project and publicly available resources.
OLLI Gallops Back to In-Person Classes
Broad grins and near euphoria marked the first in-person gatherings for OLLI at Granite State College in June. Five classes were scheduled with crossed fingers that COVID would be under control and safety protocols would be relaxed enough to hold the classes. Not only was that the case, but the weather even cooperated as the Concord, New Hampshire region joyfully hosted a field trip to the Mocha Mini Horse Farm.

Whether you’re a horse-lover or not, the first sight of these perfect miniature versions of the big animals elicits involuntary “aww-ww-wws” immediately. To qualify as a mini horse, the animal’s height must be no more than 34 inches. Member attendees were cautioned, when taking photos, to be sure to include a person in the picture because, without that reference they look like, well, horses! Cindy Broady, owner and breeder, proudly recounted the history of her program which featured award-winning minis since she began breeding in 1990.

Attendees mingled with five of the mares and geldings in a paddock right off the stables as one of the three stallions watched through the fence in an adjacent field. (Well, he didn’t just watch; he stamped his feet seeking attention, wondering why attendees weren’t paying homage to him as the beautiful animal he is.) Before the end of the two-hour visit, several OLLI visitors who wanted closer interaction walked them, turned them and even trotted the harnessed minis. At the end of the visit the beautiful horses placidly posed for group shots with a completely charmed OLLI fan base.

Submitted by: Jacki Fogarty, Volunteer Editor, OLLI Outlook at, OLLI at Granite State College
Dear Olli
Dear Olli,

I am trying to make a webpage for our OLLI members to have access to specific Zoom support videos or documents for the most common issues. Do any of you have any ideas?

OLLI Program Coordinator

Dear OLLI Program Coordinator,

A frequently asked questions (FAQ) or common issues page is a great idea, many OLLIs have similar pages and resources for their members. There are many resources you can include on webpage that may be helpful. First, don’t discount YouTube tutorials, there are many quality videos on YouTube, they just need to be properly vetted. Second, numerous OLLIs have created their own videos, resources, and tutorials. As we are a network, if you see a resource on another OLLIs website, reach out to them. Institutes are usually more than willing to share their video training content. Third, you could create your own videos/resources. While this is time consuming, it allows you to customize the information to the unique needs of your specific members. Finally, the Osher NRC has created many videos/resources that are available for your use; check out the Distance Learning page (on the Osher NRC secure site, Osher.net: Resources by Topic/Distance Learning) or you can go to the Osher NRC Vimeo page for non-password protected content, click here. Overall, you should have plenty of training and resource content to get your members Zoom’n along.


Have a question for Olli? Please send it in care of Kevin Connaughton (kevin.connaughton@northwestern.edu). 
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