Going to work is a family affair for Diane Beckley. As chief operating officer at St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus, she oversees daily programming for nearly 300 children and adults, including her own sister, Menrose Johnson.
A lively 96, Menrose is one of the senior-most clients in the Simba adult day care unit. “I’ve been coming here since this place was built,” Menrose said about her Monday-Wednesday-Friday routine for the past two years. With a ready smile and tack-sharp mind, she’s quick to tell everyone within earshot that her little sister “is doing a very good job.”
Used to being busy, Menrose ran the historic Metropolitan Hall bar and restaurant with her husband, Aaron, for many years. An expert cook, she also contributed signature dishes to the menu of a restaurant owned by their son, Greg, with whom she now lives. “When Menrose first started coming to St. Ann Center, I knew we’d have to get her busy cooking right away,” Diane said.
As a result, “Cooking with Menrose” has become a popular intergenerational activity at the Bucyrus Campus. Adults and children circle up around the kitchen island in the Ubuntu Room as she takes them step by step through her recipes. So far, she’s demonstrated how to make spaghetti, banana pudding and her most in-demand dessert. “Everybody loves my peach cobbler,” Menrose said.
“A person shouldn’t just sit alone in the house watching TV. You have to get out and be with people.” – Menrose Johnson
This talented woman is also apt to become a fixture in the new Multi-Fiber Arts Room once it’s completed. The space will offer instruction in traditional handcrafts like knitting, crocheting, weaving, tatting and sewing. “I learned to make silk lampshades when I was a girl,” Menrose said, explaining the intricate stitches that go into their construction. She’d like to be able to pass along the time-honored technique to the next generation.
In fact, children are among the reasons Menrose likes coming to St. Ann Center so much. “I enjoy watching them play—they’re busy as little bees,” she said. “They keep me feeling young.”
Read all the stories of our joyful intergenerational community in the January-March Issue of Seasons of Life.