Gus! Magazine is a partnership between the Council on Aging and the St. Augustine Record.

Gus! is published on the second Thursday of every month, inserted in 10,000 home-delivered papers and distributed to the COA community centers and area branches of the St. Johns County Public Library.

A Letter from the COA Executive Director!

This month is the time we all try to take a moment and reflect on the things we are thankful for. At Council on Aging, we feel a special debt of gratitude for everyone who cares for older adults. We all want to age in place and we all want our loved ones to have the best possible quality of life. Council on Aging is dedicated to providing the means for our older residents to enjoy well being and independence.
Connecting people who really care with those who are in need is one of the ways COA helps make this happen. Gratitude is what happens when people are really reaching each other, making those meaningful connections. It shows us that we are accomplishing our mission to help people age with dignity. Gratitude is the light that shows us the way forward.
During this season of gratitude, we want to thank the amazing people who make it possible for us to accomplish what we do, our Board & leadership, our volunteers, our staff, our donors and the wonderful people who let us into their lives. We are honored to be of service and truly grateful for every single connection that brings a little more light into our lives.

Becky Yanni

COA Executive Director



Letter from the Director!

Kids aren’t the only ones returning to school this month. Older adults, too, are heading back to the classrooms and are reaping many benefits from the pursuit of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is the process of keeping your mind and body engaged-at any age-by actively pursuing knowledge and experience. Learning is stimulating and, like physical exercise, helps promote strength, flexibility, and endurance.

Research has shown that lifelong learning can help reduce cognitive decline due to aging as well as helping older adults deal with depression and poor self-image.

The Rush Memory and Aging Project was conducted in 2012 in Chicago, and had more than 1,200 elders participating.  The project showed that cognitively active seniors, whose average age was 80, were 2.6 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and dementia than seniors with less cognitive activity.

Instead of ending education at a specific age, people are choosing to continue learning throughout their lifetimes, whether on their own through self-directed learning or in adult education and community center settings.

At Council on Aging, we provide opportunities for growth and learning through our extensive Lifelong Learning programs offered at our community senior centers. Incorporating these enriching learning opportunities into your life can mean your mind will be more stimulated, your body more active, and your spirit more fulfilled.

In this issue of GUS! we will explore those opportunities, and others offered in our community.  So call us, drop us an email, or check out our website. Let’s get back to school!

Becky Yanni

Executive Director





Cogswell's Grant - attic


The Active Boomers & Seniors Expo 2017 will be held Saturday, March 4th from 9:30 am until 230 pm. at the St. Augustine Outlet Mall!
Treasures From the Attic
Featured at the Expo will be  “Treasures From the Attic” Antique Appraisal, a fundraiser for the Council on Aging. Similar in format to “Antiques Roadshow”, the appraisal features local antique experts who will give you a verbal approximation of the value of your ‘treasures.’

“I Wonder What That’s Worth”


We’ve all wondered if our treasured keepsakes have any value other than a sentimental one. Well, now is our chance to find out! Older folks can bring in special items they have grown up with and the younger generation can bring items handed down from parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

Treasures from the Attic – Saturday, March 4th  from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm.




Richard Thompson in February & Marc Cohn in March – at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall!

lo res Richard Thompson Marc Cohn 2

Richard Thompson – Thursday, February 16th
Still. Or is it, Still?? Or better yet, Still!!! Whichever way you choose to interpret the title of his new release, Richard Thompson is still…and anything but still…he’s still at the top of his game, still writing stellar music, still playing killer guitar, still experimenting with different styles and, as good luck would have it for all
of us, still willing to tour. And, he’ll be at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall on Thursday, February 16th at 8 pm.

Marc Cohn  – Wednesday, March 1st  

 After winning a GRAMMY for his soulful ballad, “Walking in Memphis,” Marc Cohn solidified his place as one of this generation’s most compelling singer/songwriters. He combines the precision of a brilliant tunesmith with the passion of a soul man! He’s a natural storyteller, balancing the exuberant with the poignant, and is able to distill universal truth out  of his often romantic, drawn-from-life tales.

Well ok…but what does that mean? It means that Cohn has the ability to accurately depict the ups and downs of life through his songs, in a way that is meaningful and relevant – and sheesh – the guy can sing!
Cohn will be performing on Wednesday, March 1st at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall, 1050 A1A North in Ponte Vedra Beach. For tickets, please call (904) 209-0399 or visit www.pvconcerthall.com. See you there!

“Will You Go, Young Lady?”

That was the question Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., asked Barbara Vickers. As she said later, “You can’t refuse Dr. King!” (see video below)

Take a look at Dr. King’s entire “I Have a Dream” speech in the January issue of Gus! or READ IT HERE!

And CLICK HERE to read more about Barbara Vickers!


















Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas, December 25th! But, there are many other events that are observed and celebrated during the same time. Take a  peek!

























































The Council on Aging salutes all our veterans, always! Thank you all so much for your service. Every story is inspiring – unfortunately, we only have room to publish three!

Don’t Wait for Veterans’ Day

Susan Johnson

On the whole, we are all pretty good at waiting. We wait our turn at the doctor’s office; we wait in the checkout line at the supermarket; we wait for our stop while riding along on the Sunshine Bus; we wait for the end of a less-than-scintillating party or family reunion; and we wait for the mechanic to finish our oil change so we can be on our way. Next time, instead of picking up that dog-eared magazine or checking the messages on your phone while you wait, try striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you. Why? Because if they’ve had any experience with military service, it’s a safe bet that you’ll soon be talking with one of the most interesting people in the room. Every veteran has a story to tell (most have more than one) and every one of us could benefit from taking the time to listen. At the very least, it will make your wait much more enjoyable. Just don’t think you have to wait for Veteran’s Day to do it.

Patrick’s Story

patrick-macriPatrick S. Macri will turn 93 in December and served in World War ll. He was on the fast track to obtaining an electrical engineering degree from MIT before being called from the Army Reserve to active duty with the Signal Company of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His assignment was not optional and it was a treacherous one – he would be one of the first soldiers on the ground in enemy territory – responsible for assessing the situation upon landing, and signaling that assessment to his commanding officers. The one choice Macri was given, however, was which landing method he would prefer to learn. “There were sea landings, CG4A glider landings, and what we called ‘jump-in’ landings. The odds for survival were pretty low for all of them, but I thought I’d have a better chance by training to jump in as a paratrooper.” Turns out he was right! Once on the ground, Macri’s job was to immediately communicate the success – or failure – of the landing. He explains just how that was accomplished. “You have to remember that this was the 1940’s and technology was not what it is today. When I jumped, I had with me a rectangular wooden box.” (I am now thinking along the lines of a very primitive, hand-held radio device. Not surprisingly, I am wrong and Macri sets me straight pretty quickly.) “The box contained two carrier pigeons and two options for messages: “success” or “disaster”. After my jump, I attached the one that indicated success and sent the pigeon off to England.”

Macri goes on to explain how he was then able to establish who was already on the ground once a successful landing was completed. “We had clickers sewn into the collars of our jumpsuits. Once on the ground, we would reach up and press the clicker one time. If we heard two return clicks, we knew another U.S. soldier was out there with us.” Primitive, yes, but it worked. And, according to Macri, “It took awhile for the other side to catch on.”

Patrick Macri has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a Certificate of Appreciation from the President and special recognition from the French National Legion of Honor. He and his wife, Patricia, founded the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the 101st Airborne Division Association and they continue to be actively involved with the organization. They also make educational presentations to area schools and civic groups.


Bob’s Story

robert-f-johnson-picRobert F. Johnson will turn 87 this January. He spent his time in military service during the Korean War, specifically in the 2nd Reconnaissance Technical Squadron for Strategic Air Command in charge of Intelligence, and was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana. He downplays the intelligence aspect, saying: “They chose me, so obviously it didn’t have much to do with actual intelligence.” His assignment, like Macri’s, was not optional. “I wanted to stay where I was – in aerial gunnery school. I had hunted all my life with my father, I was a good shot and I enjoyed it. One day, as I was climbing out of a Blackburn B-20, my Commanding Officer comes up and tells me I’m being re-assigned to flight school – apparently, he had discovered that I had a college education.” Johnson balked at that one, thinking that flight school meant lifetime service. The CO countered with an order to transfer from gunnery to intelligence. “I spent a lot of time on so-called ‘secret’ things. But the reality was, there were no secrets. The Korean War was all about Russia. The Russians knew all about us and we knew all about them.” His responsibilities included plotting missions and air maneuvers, and scheduling refueling for the B-47’s headed to Russia.” What does he remember most? “It was never boring. I could fly whenever I wanted to on any airplane. One day, a buddy took me on a mission and actually let me fly the bomber. It was on that same flight that I got locked in the bathroom and they were looking all over for me – they thought I had fallen out of the plane.” Johnson recalls another incident: “The aircraft’s red engine warning light came on just before take off. None of us were mechanics and there was no one around to ask, so we took bets on what we thought the problem might be, decided it was a faulty engine light and took off as scheduled. Didn’t even worry about it. ” He laughs, then gets serious. Shakes his head, looks at me and says, “Hell. We were kids. We were all just kids. We didn’t know anything. ”

Patrick or Bob could be sitting right next to you the next time you find yourself in line somewhere. And, they could be waiting for you to ask them a little bit about themselves. So go ahead! Just don’t think you have to wait for Veterans’ Day to do it.

The Story of Henry Johnson


Teddy Roosevelt called him “one of the five bravest Americans” to serve in World War 1. Others referred to him simply as “Black Death” because of his bravery in the Argonne forest. He was greeted as a hero during a Harlem homecoming parade upon his return from the war, but his memory – and his legacy – diminished rather quickly. He was too black to be an American hero and had too many injuries from the war to keep his old job. Henry Johnson died in 1929, destitute and forgotten, just over a decade after the war ended. Until recently, no official award existed to preserve the contributions Henry Johnson made to our country. Until Henry’s son, Herman, fought to have the military award his father the commendations he deserved but which had been denied him.
On July 2, 2015, almost 100 years after Henry Johnson served his country
so valiantly in Europe, President Obama presented his granddaughter, Tara Johnson, with his Medal of Honor. As Tara explained, the Johnson family had a long history of selfless service: “Grandfather was World War 1” Tara said. “Dad was a Tuskegee Airman, my cousin Herman was a U.S. Marine, and my son, DeMarqus, was with the first Marines in Fallujah, Iraq.” She then elaborated on the importance of this
recognition, revealing that her son has been suffering from episodes of PTSD since his service in the Marines.
” I’m trying to give him the opportunity that wasn’t offered to my grandfather. It’s a battle. He has more help than my grandfather did but I’m trying to give him the support that I don’t think my grandfather had.”