Senior in Action – Harvey and Laurie Fichtelberg

Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Former County of LA Public Library Administrator is having the time of her life as a retiree; meeting fascinating people who are active seniors, and volunteering for Soroptimist International of Norwalk and other women’s groups.

Senior in Action – Harvey and Laurie Fichtelberg

as told to Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen

Harvey and Laurie Fichtelberg are very active at age 78 and 76 respectively.  Their list of outdoor/indoor activities is extensive; playing pickleball several times a week, walking or hiking on trails easily accessible from the Morningside community where they live, using the gym, attending exercise classes, and competing in tournament play of golf putting, bocce ball and croquet. Harvey serves on the Resident Council at Morningside, and Laurie serves on several committees, including the Floral Committee that creates a weekly fresh flower arrangement for the main entry to Morningside of Fullerton.

Two of the Fichtelberg’s adult sons live nearby in southern California, so they often spend weekends touring the soccer fields of SoCal to cheer on their grandchildren.  Their nine-year-old grandchild will soon compete in a surfing competition so they will be cheering at the beach.  They have five grandsons and one granddaughter on two coasts, living in southern California and Pennsylvania.

Laurie grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, and Harvey was born in New York City.  Their lives intersected in Boston, when their college roommates became engaged.  Although their roommates’ relationship did not last, Harvey and Laurie are happy for the serendipity that brought them together.  Harvey completed his Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and worked for two East Coast companies before changing jobs and joining Hughes Aircraft in southern California, retiring from Raytheon.  Laurie earned her Associates degree in Boston and finished her Bachelor’s Degree at Cal State Fullerton in Business.  She also worked for Hughes and retired from Boeing.

Laurie: “My granddaughter brags about the fact we’ve been in every state in America.  We bought a motor home after our children finished college, and toured the country.  One of my personal goals was to visit every National Park but the federal government kept adding more to the list, so I finally gave up, but we’ve traveled to many!”

Harvey: “We started playing pickleball when we settled down in western North Carolina after 9-11 happened and we wanted to set down roots rather than touring with the motorhome.  The local hiking club there, the High Country Hikers, organized challenging day hikes between 6 to 12 miles long in the Smoky Mountains. We saw many gorgeous vistas and it felt good to work up a sweat.   I also invested sweat equity as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity where I must have pounded hundreds of nails.  Fortunately, there was land available for creating large subdivisions of 80-100 Habitat homes which were sold with 0% interest mortgages.  Very rewarding work.”

Laurie: “We both volunteered at the Interfaith Assistance Ministry Crisis Center with food distribution and connecting people in need to helping agencies.  I enjoyed sharing my quilting skills by teaching at the local Boys & Girls Club.  The young boys were more interested in the sewing machine than the quilting but both boys and girls created quilts which were showcased in annual Quilting Guild shows.

When asked if they would like to share any advice with Not Born Yesterday readers about staying active, they were happy to comment.   Harvey: “You only get issued one body, so you should take good care of it.  Get outdoors as much as possible.  Exercise activities like pickleball and walking are part of being healthy and help relieve stress.”

Laurie: “Don’t hesitate to join a senior community living.  People don’t realize how convenient it is; maintenance is always there when something is not working in the unit, and you feel safe.  We always have company.  Our children don’t have to worry about us.  They grew up in Fullerton, and now we’ve come full circle living at Morningside near our former neighborhood.”

Harvey: “Cooking?  Oh, is that what that appliance with black circles is for!?  We do very little cooking ourselves, but now that the pandemic is easing, and everyone at Morningside has been vaccinated and boosted, we enjoy dining with our friends in the dining room again.  We also benefit from being close to Disneyland, as Morningside is able to hire great entertainers to provide outdoor concerts and entertainment here.”


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