OLLI Members Get Social at Spring Kickoff

By By Dave Reed

Anne and Kent Petruccelli The OLLI Gulf Park Campus Spring Kickoff was held at the Fleming Education Center and provided members and guests a great opportunity to network, socialize, and learn. Current members were able to reconnect with each other after the break between semesters and to meet and greet prospective new members. This proved successful as OLLI Gulf Park signed up eight new members during the event.

In the South, we often meet to eat and the Kickoff was no exception. Many OLLI members volunteered their time and efforts to provide their favorite finger food or special dessert for the event. These tasty homemade treats combined with the friendly atmosphere made members and guests feel at ease, contributing to the success of this semeste's event.

In addition to social aspects of the meeting, OLLI members had a wonderful opportunity to learn. The featured guest speaker Dan Ellis showed the first hour of the film Old Spanish Trail. The film depicted the history of development of transportation from Mobile to New Orleans and was a prelude to the class "Old Spanish Trail Gulf Coast." Members Kent and Anna Purcell stated, "It was a very interesting and informative presentation and we are looking forward to attending the next part."

Member Betty Adams said, "Our spring social was a huge success. So nice to see our members gather, anticipating upcoming classes. Great time to reconnect and share new ideas. Thanks to all who provided goodies for us." Thank you, Maryann, for another job well done and a special thanks to Dianne Deweese who organized the event. "Let the fun begin."

Life in the Longleaf Pine

By Pamela Dupuy


On a cool, clear winter day several OLLI members gathered outside Saucier at the Harrison Experimental Forest for a seminar on "Life in the Longleaf Pine." U.S. Forest Service biologist Ed Moody shared his knowledge, expertise and love of longleaf pines as well as the flora and fauna found nearby. Following an informative discussion, the class then went on a site visit within the Desoto National Forest where longleaf pines were observed in their natural setting. Moody and his assistant explained the specific traits of longleaf pines and compared them to loblolly and slash pines.

The duo also pointed out several nests belonging to the red-cockaded woodpecker, a protected species that often dwells in these tall, thin, towering trees. Moody extolled the virtues of longleaf pines and how the Forest Service manages what's left of the southern pine forests that once covered southeastern states from Texas to Maryland. With 90% of the original forests removed through industry and urbanization, he noted the importance of preserving this valuable resource along with the animals and plants that depend on it. Moody

In addition to the red-cockaded woodpecker Moody showed OLLI members a burrow of a gopher tortoise which is also an endangered species living in the longleaf pine ecosystem. These tortoises are slow to reproduce and are threatened by habitat fragmentation and degradation as well as by predators. The Forest Service is working with the Nature Conservancy at Camp Shelby on a 'Head-Start' incubation program to help ensure the gopher tortoise eggs go safely to the hatchling stage and then to being released in the DeSoto Forest.

All in all, everyone who attended the seminar felt it was a wonderful investment of time and energy. This off-site program was truly appreciated and enjoyed by those who attended.

Dinner At the White Pillars, Biloxi, MS

By Bettie Lindley-Meek

At the Table

Chef Austin Sumrall and his wife Tresse have brought the "farm to table" dining experience to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Chef Austin sources the highest quality and freshest local ingredients for his dishes. These proud Mississippians have chosen everything from serving dishes to the handcrafted tables to the bathroom soaps, with southern hospitality in mind.

The bar and lounge in the White Pillars, the WP, has its own menu of small bites. It also features seasonal cocktails, local Mississippi-crafted beers and an extensive selection of bourbon and wine. The bar itself is the oldest known on the Coast and was originally in Chicago's Blackstone Hotel.

Between the years 1901 and 1905, Dr. Hyman McMacken Folkes and his wife Teresa Lopez designed their home formerly known as Gunston Hall and now home to White Pillars. The architectural style is Neoclassical Revival. The fireplace in the west downstairs room is made of rosewood while the fireplace in the main room downstairs is constructed of ballast stones left on the shores of the Gulf Coast by European ships in the 1800s.

In the 1950s the front lawn was sold and developed. In 1968 the property was purchased by the Mladinich family and converted from multi-residential units into the White Pillars Restaurant and Lounge. This family added a New Orleans-style enclosed courtyard which became the patio garden room of the White Pillars Restaurant which opened in 1969 after Hurricane Camille. The original structure was kept intact and seven dining rooms were created. The carriage house and formal garden were converted into a lounge. The doors on the east wall of the lounge came from Ursuline Convent in New Orleans and are over 150 years old.

Meet the Facilitator

By Carol Lewando

Jon Caridad

One of the most prolific facilitators for OLLI on the Gulf Coast Campus is Jon Caridad. When asked how his journey with OLLI began, Caridad says he was teaching a class as a volunteer at a local library when someone in the class introduced him to OLLI and the rest is history. He not only became an OLLI member but has been a class facilitator almost every semester since his introduction to OLLI three years ago. He also serves as an At Large Member of the OLLI Advisory Board.

Caridad, a retired Episcopal priest, received his degree in English at Upsala College in East Orange, New Jersey, before his studies at General Theological Seminary in New York City and his subsequent ordination. During his time in New York, he talked about meeting and spending time with Madeline L'Engle, the author of A Wrinkle in Time, at the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine.

In addition to his work and pastoral assignments as an Episcopal priest both in South Carolina and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he spent many years in education abroad and in the States. One of the most interesting educational assignments he had was as Administrator of the American Community Schools in London, England. He stated that many of his students were expatriates with wealthy parents seeking asylum for their children away from countries with political and economic unrest. Some students were American and Canadian with parents living abroad who desired to have their children educated in a setting that would meet American standards. He served locally as Headmaster of Coast Episcopal School in Long Beach and Rector of Saint Peter by the Sea Episcopal Church in Gulfport.

The classes Caridad facilitates at OLLI, in any given term, range from topics in history, such as ancient cultures, to topics in religion including a study of the Psalms and modern Judaism. He says he enjoys the discipline of preparing for classes and feels, in sharing information, that he learns much from his interesting students as well.

In addition to his involvement with OLLI, Caridad enjoys participation in community organizations: the Pass Christian Theatre Project, Gulfport Little Theatre and DARE. He is affiliated with The Nourishing Place and First Christian Church in Gulfport where he counsels and preaches. OLLI is indeed fortunate to have him as a member as well as a frequent facilitator.


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