It began with a small handful of retirees and a gift from a retired Phillips Petroleum Inc. executive about eight years ago.
But now, the Kansas University Retirees Club can boast about 240 members, whose activities revolve around the Adams Alumni Center, home of the KU Alumni Association.
Arno Knapper, a KU emeritus professor of business, was president of the club for the last two years, said that anyone who is a retired employee at KU is eligible to join.
People who have been associated with another university and moved to Lawrence to retire can also join the club, Knapper said.
"Frankly, of all the organizations that I've been involved with over the years, this is one of the most active," he said. "There seems to be a lot of people who live to do things. And the old folks aren't dead yet."
KNAPPER SAID the club has 240 members, plus spouses. The average age of the club members is about 70, he said.
"There was a small nucleus during the time the Adams Center was built, and it has grown over the years," Knapper said. "I think we're at the point now where we're going to stay constant."
Mildred Clodfelter, who worked in the alumni association office for 42 years, is social chairman for the organization.
Clodfelter said the club was made possible by a $500,000 gift from Paul Endacott, a retired executive of Phillips Petroleum Inc., Bartlesville, Okla. Endacott's gift was used for a retirees' area on the first floor of the Adams Alumni Center.
The KU Retirees Club was formed when the alumni center opened in 1983.
"It's really a very active group," Clodfelter said. "It was wonderful that he thought of this."
Knapper said the club will continue to add programs and activities, depending on the interests of the members.
"We are limited by our own imaginations what we want to do," he said. "I think it's been fun."
William Kelly, a KU professor emeritus of law, became the club's new president this summer.
"I THINK it has been a great thing for retired members of the faculty and staff because it provides an opportunity to meet people you didn't know because you weren't in contact with them," he said.
Kelly said the club is designed to provide an enriching retirement for KU faculty and staff through a number of social activities.
"One project is to produce an oral history of retired faculty and staff, copies of which are kept in the KU Archives and in the alumni center library," he said.
Kelly said that every Wednesday morning during the school year the club has a coffee social in the alumni center, followed by recorded music. The club also sends out a monthly newsletter. Some members have organized into groups that include those who want to practice creative writing and those who want to learn how to use computers.
THE CLUB also has an investment study group, a national issues group and an interest group involved in local community affairs.
The club's theater group sometimes travels to Chicago and Kansas City to see plays. It also has its own play readings. The club also has a travel group that arranges trips to different points of interest, Kelly said.
"Among the various interest groups, we have armchair travelers," he said. "They present slides and videos of the travels they have taken."
The club also has regular activities and games, including pool tournaments and card parties.
"We have a very active club and it's utilized by the retirees," Kelly said. "We will follow pretty much in the pattern we did in previous years."
Other regular events include dinners held before concerts at KU, and a game party held once a month, Clodfelter said.
Clodfelter said she has enjoyed the trips sponsored by the club.
"There's no end to what they do," she said. "They've even had a few cruises."