30 Dec Senior in Action -Sharon Naiman
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 -Sharon Naiman
as told to Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Q: Are you a native Californian, or did you relocate here?
Sharon: “I’ve lived most of my adult life in southern California, but was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. Those of us born in that region pronounce our state as Missourah which is how we separate the natives from the visitors. After high school, I wanted to attend University of Arizona in Tucson, so my parents put me on a train with my locker, and off I went by myself. Didn’t know a soul there, which proves I can be intrepid when I need to be. After a year, I transferred to the University of Missouri and earned my BS in Education. When I considered where to apply for work after graduation, there were many available teaching positions in various states. California was having a population growth spurt and needed to hire teachers. I interviewed, and accepted a position in San Diego and moved to California where I taught elementary and middle school students, as well as American History to high school classes.”
“San Diego turned out to be a wonderful decision, as I met my husband there. We were married in 1962. My plan was to have 6 children since I came from a small family with only one sister. However, we had four children; two sons and 2 daughters. The family continued to grow, and I have 9 grandchildren now, but they are spread out in Israel, the mid-West, Los Angeles, and Orange County. My husband died in 2014, and life afterwards was a big adjustment. I am fortunate to live in a senior condo development with very helpful neighbors, willing to lend a hand whenever needed, more frequently now that I am 83. “
Q: Do you have any family traits or traditions that you attribute to your parents?
Sharon: “My mother taught me to cook, so I am comfortable in the kitchen. One of the recipes my family requests often is my chicken soup with matzah balls. Another trait passed down was the importance of sharing time with your family, and our family congregates together whenever possible for holiday meals and celebrations.”
“Perhaps the most important trait I learned from my parents was the desire to be involved in the community, working for social justice. That has led me to be involved in numerous community groups; League of Women Voters, American Association of University Women, Friends of the San Juan Capistrano Library, and serving on committees at my synagogue in Aliso Viejo. At synagogue, I’ve participated in a committee that cooks together and freezes meals to be delivered to members when they are sick or mourning the loss of a loved one.”
“I have been a voracious reader all of my life, and volunteering at the SJC Friends of the Library Bookstore brings me into contact with many inexpensive books, so I probably buy more than I sell! My preferred category of books to read is historical fiction, such as Hamilton. But I also like biographies such as the book I’m reading now, Sisters in Law about the Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor.”
Q: What hobbies do you pursue when not volunteering?
Sharon: “I like to garden, mostly flowers in the planters near my front door. It’s difficult to do so these days as I am having treatments for back pain after a fall. I enjoy following baseball, especially the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels. College basketball is also fun to watch and I root for UCLA.
Traveling to new places is something I once enjoyed. My husband and I traveled extensively after our children were grown. We toured England, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Romania and Prague in Czech Republic. International travel brought relevance to the history lessons I taught during my career, and my husband and I were fascinated by history and cultures. I learned that kitchen towels make excellent souvenirs to bring home to loved ones – non-breakable and easy to pack!
Q: Do you believe in making New Year’s Resolutions?
Sharon: “I do, however, like most people I’m not diligent about following through. For 2023, I resolve to exercise more and be less critical.”