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RPCV Kay Drikey served in Samoa at 65
RPCV Kay Drikey served in Samoa at 65
Aging from grace, from A to Z
Published: April 26, 2003
By STARLA POINTER
Of the News-Register
Kay Drikey's motto is "Never be ashamed of your age." She takes that one step further, though.
She is proud of her age. She's especially pleased that she continues to live each day positively and passionately.
"Like my older friends have said, I wear my age as a badge of achievement," said Drikey, who will turn 85 in May.
She wasn't even 70 yet when she started writing and illustrating a book about the subject of aging with enthusiasm. Published in 1996, "Positive Aging A to Z, Adventure to Zest," tells the story of an alphabet of people who exemplify the qualities that Drikey believes make up a full life at any age.
"They are overcoming stereotypes we have about older people," she explained.
Drikey will give away signed copies of her book at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the lobby of Osprey Pointe, 345 S.W. Hill Road, McMinnville.
She sometimes signs her books with a quote she loves, "May the rest of your life be the best of your life." Other times, she simply writes, "Enjoy!"
Drikey interviewed friends and acquaintances for the 26 chapters in "Positive Aging," which feature titles like "C equals Communicate: Turning Retire-ment into Living-ment," "K equals Keep Fit: Healthy in Body, Mind and Spirit," and "Q equals Quality: Not Enough Hours in the Day."
The B chapter is a memoir about her own mother, Luella Wood, titled "Small in Stature, Large in Courage."
Each chapter focuses on a different quality. After telling a person's story, Drikey adds some tips for how readers can emphasize that quality in their own lives.
In "D equals Dare: Still Cruising at 109," for instance, Drikey says struggles are inherent throughout life. She suggests seeking out additional challenges that will add enjoyment and test our courage.
Drikey has taken that advice many times.
After she retired at age 65, she joined the Peace Corps. "I was still feeling unfinished," she explained.
She traveled to Western Samoa to teach business courses. On her fifth day in the tropics, she fell and broke her shoulder. "I was determined I was going to stay. I was not going to give up," she said.
She struggled on for a few weeks, but medical care in Samoa was limited. Devastated, she finally had to return to the United States to recuperate.
Her son offered a place to stay. "But I had to be doing something," she said. "I thought, I could go to college."
At 68, she matriculated at Sonoma State College. She took classes she enjoyed, avoiding subjects like chemistry.
"I didn't need a degree. I just wanted to learn," she said. "It was one of the most rewarding times of my life."
It also provided the genesis of her book - her major was gerontology.
A bit of everything
Drikey grew up in Nebraska, graduating from high school in 1936. She moved to Southern California during the Depression, went to business school and found work as a secretary.
She was a stay-at-home mom for more than two decades, until her youngest was about 13. "Then I decided I wanted to get out in the world again," she said.
About that time, Drikey changed the spelling of her last name from "Drickey" after someone suggested that dropping a consonant would change her life. "I think it has," she said mischievously.
She took a secretarial job at Du Pont in Burbank, Calif. She retired from there about 15 years later.
After her stint in the Peace Corps, she stayed in California for many years. She moved from Santa Rosa to McMinnville two years ago to be near her younger son, Ron Drickey. Her other son lives in Denver; her daughter remains in Southern California.
"Moving up here was hard. I was used to driving my own car, but I got rid of it when I came," she said.
But, like always, she looked at the change as a new set of challenges, she said. She emphasizes the opportunities here: activities at the retirement home, spending time with her son and his family, talking on the phone to her daughter every Sunday.
She attends church from time to time. "Faith has always been an important part of my life. The good things, I attribute to God," she said. "Like this morning, I awoke feeling well. I know someone's watching out for me."
Her apartment at Osprey Pointe is decorated with her oil paintings - near-photographic representations of children, butterflies, hummingbirds and flowers.
Many of the portraits were inspired by photos in National Geographic and other magazines, she said. Only one shows someone she knows: her grandson, now 22, as a little boy.
Her painted china plates also are on display. Some of them, anyway - many were given away as gifts.
Among her other crafts, she also has framed footprints of grandchildren Ryan and Kristina Drickey. "This is one of the ideas I was going to make a million on," she said, referring to the unique way the footprints are displayed.
"I've done all kinds of things," she said. "I've had my hands in a little bit of everything."
When this story was prepared, here was the front page of PCOL magazine:
This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?
Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."
In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.
Read the stories and leave your comments.