Questions for the Greatest Generation

Jan Fowler

is author of the best-selling book, “Hot Chocolate for Seniors”(winner of   national & international awards); winner of Gold Halo Award from the So. California Motion Picture Council for Outstanding Literary Achievement; winner of First Place Excellence in Journalism Award (SPJ –Southern CA); Town & Gown “Phenomenal Woman” Award; former television host & KSPA radio host of “Senior Living at its Best with Jan Fowler”; speaker, contributing author for “Savvy Women Revving Up for Success”;  founder of Starburst Inspirations, Inc. 501(c) (3) nonprofit which supports Redlands Drug Court.  Jan welcomes feedback and comments about her columns and invites you to leave her a message on her website.


 “Questions for the Greatest Generation”


Jan Fowler


What a privilege and honor it was to have had the rare opportunity to represent the state of California in a week-long national pageant competition for the Ms. Senior USA title, recently held at the Saxe Theater on the Las Vegas strip.   I would like to share some key highlights of this extraordinary experience and also hear your suggestions about the most important questions which we, as seniors, should be asking ourselves.

First, I must say that I had the joy and delight of meeting and befriending forty outstanding ladies from across the United States who had distinguished themselves in a multitude of ways.  I was not a winner in this event, but to my great surprise, I did receive a “Top 5” plaque as a finalist in my age category.

The two categories of competition were for those age 60 and older and those 75 and older, which is called the Ms. Super Senior.  So the front of my sash reads Ms. Super Senior California USA 2018 and the back reads Queen Jan.  And at my age (80), believe me, it was a thrill beyond words to discover that there’s still so much more to come in my life!

We contestants were judged on our personal philosophy of life, interviews by five judges, talent, stage presence, and pageant participation.

Since one third of our score was based on responses to interview questions from five judges, naturally I tried to anticipate the judges’ questions.  And while I am not at liberty to divulge the questions which the judges actually did ask us, I will tell you that my mind raced ahead to pertinent questions which I might ask if I had been a judge.

So now I ask you , the reader, to think about it.  What would you ask? And how would you answer?

My questions (and answers) went something like this:

What do you feel contributes to longevity and successful aging?

My answer:  Successful aging is related to healthy day-to-day living.  Our energy comes from feeling good, not merely from eating or sleeping well. We also tend to eat better, think better, and feel better when we feel a sense of purpose and are surrounded by positive-minded upbeat people with whom we can laugh.

What has been your biggest mistake, and what did you learn from it?

My answer:  One of my biggest mistakes was in the financial realm in not having set more money aside for retirement.  But most especially for not having pulled out of the stock market in October 2008 because I took such a bad hit!  What did I learn from that painful experience?  I actually learned that you can always do with less and still be happy.

What is your best advice to young people in today’s world?

My answer:  Focus on the advantages in your life, not the disadvantages.  Appreciate what you have, no matter how little it is rather than complain about what you don’t have.  Find things in your life to be grateful for.  And choose someone terrific as your role model.

– If there were one thing which you could do to change the world, what would that be?

My answer: I would eliminate world hunger and starvation, especially in children.  When we’re hungry, we can’t learn, plus our growth and mental development are stunted.  Instead, we’re beaten down and lose our power. People have succumbed to communists simply because they provided food. Yes, I would help stamp out world hunger.

How do you see yourself a year from now, five years from now?

Readers, please join me in providing answers to this and other questions. My personal answer revolves around the continual enjoyment of music by attending senior dances, concerts, music in the park, choral performances by youth and adults, theater programs, and as many musical stage shows as possible.

I might add that some excerpts from our pageant mission statement include, “We are the women and daughters of the greatest generation.  As senior women, we have nurtured our families, our careers, and our communities.  We are strong, savvy, goal-oriented, wise and aware.  And as humanitarians, we always seek to improve the lives of others. It is our goal to further empower women of all ages, nations, and cultures as we strive for equality…and to redefine what it means to be a senior woman and role model to the communities of women who will follow us.”

The week in Las Vegas was certainly exhilarating!  And did I mention that we even danced the night away at the Queen’s Ball held at the glamorous Liberace Mansion, which is very beautifully preserved with art deco, mirrors, candelabras, vintage pianos, and a party center for exciting celebrations such as ours?

But most of all, I have made new and memorable friendships with women who are leaving legacies of love, family values, and community leadership.  Yes, we seniors have lots to offer.

“It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” Tom Brokaw

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