Thursday, August 11 2022

ROCKLAND — That’s a great story for a retirement party.

In 1970, when Peggy Hocking Bryan graduated from Randolph High School, her grandmother, Mabel Hocking, won a contest for a date with Boston Bruins hockey player Derek Sanderson.

Her grandmother’s winning line: Just because she was a senior doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have the chance to have dinner with the handsome Canadian athlete. His was one of 13,000 entries for “Date Derek Day” in the contest held by a Boston radio station.

“Just because I’m 73 doesn’t mean I can’t date Derek,” she wrote in July 1970. At that time, she had 12 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. children.

She won. The UPI wire story published by the Los Angeles Times, other newspapers and Sports Illustrated magazine was headlined “Just a 73-Year-Old – Great-Grandmother, Bruins Hockey Star Shares Date .”

Mabel Hocking lived in South Boston and had to wait another six months to date the swinger bachelor. She resisted pressure from her daughter and granddaughters to have one of them take her place.

Hocking had her husband’s permission “to date a younger man.”

The Sunday date began with a game of pool with Sanderson at his attorney Bob Woolf’s apartment; she lost, 9-6. She visited Sanderson’s parents at his apartment, went out to dinner with them and was his guest at the Bruins’ game against the Canadiens that night, which the Bruins won 4-2, extending their winning streak at Boston. Garden at 15.

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Family members tell Bryan, now director of the Rockland Council on Aging, that she shares a resemblance to her late grandmother; she likes it. She only knew two of her grandparents, her father’s parents, but says she grew up learning to value her elders for what she could learn from them.

“My parents always instilled in me respect for your elders and in a good way. They have something to give you, make sure you respect what they have,” she said. “It’s something that has always crossed my mind, that seniors are very important.”

After her six children grew up, these values ​​were part of what led her to work with the elderly in Rockland, where she lived. She now lives in Whitman.

On Wednesday, July 20, after 20 years, she will retire as director of the Rockland Council on Aging. She will be 70 in August. An open house with refreshments will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Robert J. Nyman Seniors Center, 317 Plain St., Rockland.

As she feels excited to start a new chapter in her life, she said, “it’s bittersweet” because the elders and staff have become her extended family and the center, brand new in 2014, is like a second home.

Peggy Bryan, Rockland's longtime aging counselor and director of the senior center, dances with seniors during the men's group barbecue at the Rockland senior center on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

“I often think of my parents, and do they look down on me and I just want to make them proud,” she said emotionally. “I learned so much from the seniors. They teach you to listen to them, they have a lot of good advice. … People who come here are caring for each other, they look out for each other. A sign at the main entrance says, “You come in as a stranger and come home as a family.

Bryan is especially keen to spend more time with his six retired children and 17 grandchildren. She is also an avid pickleball player and has just purchased golf clubs.

Ruth Assetta and Larry Yourell, both of Rockland, enjoy a dance during the Boy Group BBQ at the Rockland Senior Center on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

During his tenure, the senior center grew from a one-room operation at McKinley School to a full-service organization in its own free-standing five-room building with a full kitchen that opened in 2014.

Along with lots of fun events, the center organizes health checkups and offers housing services, heating assistance, health insurance advice, and tax assistance programs.

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For many years, his right-hand man was Eleanor Murphy, Outreach Coordinator, who retired in June 2020, after 13 years. The two recently sat down together to chat.

More seniors are coming to the center now, they agreed, because there is plenty of parking and easy access to the building. And they listened to what older people wanted and added exercise programs, chair yoga, balance classes, strength and stretching sessions and educational talks about “things they were dealing with. , like blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, chronic pain,” Murphy said.

Local senior centers have become essential community supports for working families with elders who need a safe and engaging place to go during the day that can provide meals and health check-ups.

Peggy Bryan, second from right, greets Gail Ingraham, center, and Donna Wilder, right, during the men's group barbecue at the senior center on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

The center sends out 250 Meals on Wheels per week and serves 40 hot meals at the center per day, including “to-go” meals to take home.

The large male group has 90 members.

“We have ice cream parties every July, a Christmas tea party for up to 130 people, and the school matching program,” Murphy said.

Rockland has some 4,000 residents age 60 and older, and at least 100 a day come to the senior center’s programs.

Bill Rothwell mans the grill during the Men's Group BBQ at Rockland Senior Center on Tuesday, June 21, 2022.

“We developed many new programs together, participated in many parties and of course we always had our dancing shoes!!” Bryan said in his farewell message. “Each group brought a different perspective to the senior center.”

The new director, Darlene Regan, took office on Monday, July 18. For the past year, she has served as director of the Halifax Council on Aging.

Farewell Peggy. Thank you for always being welcoming and upbeat, and all the best!

Contact Sue Scheible at [email protected]

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