2014 Unsung Hero Saul Marmer

2014 Unsung Hero Saul Marmer

Saul Marmer teaching Spring 2014

Saul Marmer sharing "Personal Experiences of the '30s and '40s." Photo: Peter Nord

Each of the past several years, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Cincinnati has presented an exemplary volunteer with the Unsung Hero Award.

This year’s Unsung Hero, Saul Marmer, almost missed teaching his spring quarter class, “Personal Experiences of the ‘30s and ‘40s,” when a serious illness landed him first in the hospital and then in-patient rehabilitation. Marmer noted, “I took their pills and rehab therapy so I’d be here today to receive this award. I had dodged another bullet. Just as I had dodged them in World War II. I was an infantry platoon leader when the shelf life for an infantry platoon leader was 17 days.”

Marmer found OLLI 15 years ago, just after he had closed his family’s shoe store and lost his wife of nearly 52 years. By his second quarter (fall 1999), he was not only taking OLLI courses but also teaching one: “Stop Hurting Your Feet,” which drew from his career as president of Marmer’s Shoes and certified pedorthist (a professional who has specialized training to modify footwear and employ supportive devices to address conditions that affect the feet).

Saul Marmer accepting the Unsung Hero Award

Accepting the Unsung Hero Award from Chairman of the Board Dan Domis and OLLI founding member Gloria Giannestras. Photo: Peter Nord

While he continued in that vein for a few years, he soon found his passion: moderating classes that focused on the people, events, and history surrounding World War II, with occasional forays into topics as varied as Rod Serling or the war in Iraq. His advice for people who are considering becoming an OLLI moderator: “If you think about what you did in your work life, you might find there is something that would interest others. Then it might be your hobby, or something you have found of interest to you might also be of interest to others if you researched it further.”

And, all along, he took classes “to never stop learning” and to make “lasting friendships with so many people.” Among the people Saul connected with through OLLI was Shirley Hyams, his “high school steady. She too had lost her husband. We reconnected and had 15 years of as close to honeymoon as folks our age could have.” Shirley Hyams passed away on February 1, 2014.

Besides taking and teaching courses, Saul has served on the Board of Trustees, chaired the Special Events Committee, and held other volunteer positions within OLLI. Many members will remember his humorous and informative slide shows at OLLI luncheons over the years.

Saul concluded his remarks: “So what lies ahead for me? No one knows, but I intend to fight until that bullet that has kept missing me hits its mark.”

Past Unsung Heroes are Warren Dedich (2011), Janet Banks (2012), and Rosemary Deitzer (2013). If you know of an OLLI unsung hero, please let us know at olli@uc.edu.