A Fervor for Life: George Hoey
Sitting in the bistro at the Village of Bedford Walk, George Hoey, 84, is on his best behavior. He has been reading “1776” by David McCullough, and he stops to share about life and his thoughts on getting older. His blue wool sweater brings out the color in his eyes, which gleam with a hint of mischief.
“Age is just a number,” George says with a smile. “It’s all about how you use it.”
A former resident of Chicago, George moved to Columbia following his wife’s death in late 2014 to be near his son, who lives in Ashland. Having lived two miles from Wrigley Field with a career as a PE teacher and coach, George says he could not get enough of the Chicago Cubs, all things sports, and a good party.
“I never let my feet drag,” George says. “I was all over the place.”
George’s adventures included being part of Maguire University, a fictitious college created by a group of Chicago high school basketball coaches in order to score tickets to the NCAA Final Four. The idea was hatched in 1963 at Maguire’s Pub in Forest Park, Illinois. George will not confirm or deny the details (the official Maguire University website lists him as vice president), but he does admit to having attended the Final Four every year since 1980, and he is looking forward to Phoenix this year.
“I do like to party!” he says.
It’s no surprise that one of George’s favorite activities at the Village of Bedford Walk is the Happy Hour, catered by Room 38 every Wednesday afternoon. He also had the opportunity to show off his bartending skills at a holiday brunch for the staff in December.
His drink of choice? A simple beer, like Miller Lite.
“I wanted life and I’ve found it here at The Village of Bedford Walk,” George says. “I can’t gush enough about the place. It’s my home and this is my family.”
George prioritizes his time to volunteer at University Hospital on Monday and at the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.
“George moved from out of town and wanted be part of the community,” says Village of Bedford Walk community relations specialist Brittany Lambiris. “He really rallies around the other residents and encourages them to get involved.”
Lambiris says that George’s desire to serve in the community was the inspiration for the Bedford Gives Back program, which the Village of Bedford Walk developed to get other residents involved in volunteer work. George also serves as an ambassador for the Bedford Walk community as one of six residents who welcome and engage new people.
In his free time, George is serious about staying fit. He walks three miles several times a week and does water aerobics in the facility’s resistance pool. “I may creak once in a while,” he says, “but I’m not going to say I can’t do it. I’ll just do what I can.”
An obvious highlight of 2016 for George was the Cubs winning the World Series. To fully immerse himself in the experience, he watched the games in his room, where he could yell and scream at the TV screen.
“Cardinal fans give me business all over the place,” George says with a devilish grin, “but this year I gave it all back to them!”
George’s antidote to aging? “I love life. I think it’s meant to have fun,” he shares. “There are hard times, but you can’t dwell on them all your life. You have to move on.”
To read the stories of other vibrant seniors in the Columbia community, visit https://comolivingmag.com/2017/01/27/a-fervor-for-life/.