Jeanne Norvell, a native of New London, Wis., decided to return to her Fox Valley roots after more than four decades of rubbing shoulders with the powerful and famous in Washington, D.C. Although her background provides tempting opportunities for name dropping, she reluctantly does so.
Beginning as a legal secretary in the Department of Justice, Jeanne ended her exciting career as personnel manager of the Washington office of one of the world's largest international law firms. Her involvement in the world of art in our nation's capital resulted in her identification as an authorized agent in the return of a private Edvard Munch collection on loan to Rome.
Jeanne sought a retirement home in a location that had access to a university, varied cultural activities -especially art and music, four distinct seasons, a community of friendly and interesting people, proximity to metropolitan areas and airports, and a home with a view of the water. The answer was Oshkosh.
Our city has more than met Jeanne's specifications, especially when it comes to opportunities for continuous learning. Influenced long ago by her mother's wisdom that "knowledge is the one thing that nobody can ever take from you," Jeanne has found a variety of opportunities. She audited courses at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh where she studied the Russian Revolution. At Fox Valley Technical College she honed computer skills, and at the Paine Art Center and Arboretum she revitalized her painting techniques and inspiration. Although piano lessons have been on her agenda, both she and her teacher, Carmen Shaw, agreed that she needed practice more urgently than more lessons.
Then, of course, there is the catalyst for learning in the committee work and courses available through the Learning in Retirement organization. She has enjoyed her contacts and interactions as a member of the curriculum committee and gives nothing but the highest kudos to the courses she has taken, especially the theater and symphony series.
“They were superb,” she says.
Her excitement about the opportunities afforded by the LIR organization is surpassed only by her keen sense of humor, often aimed at herself.
“I’m a Gemini-what do you expect?”
When asked if she had any advice for those contemplating retirement, she emphasized the importance of preparing for this phase of one's life.
"Get interests outside of your work, and be sure they will allow you to keep on learning. Don't overextend yourself. Set priorities and develop the art of selfishness."
Jeanne Norvell is a retiree who practices what she preaches.