Archive for Sunday, April 27, 2008

Active senior to be honored for efforts as volunteer

Dr. Paul Getto, who volunteers with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce at the Visitor Information Center in North Lawrence, meets with John Conrad at the center. Getto will be recognized Thursday for his volunteer efforts with the James & Virginia Seaver Award for Service by Douglas County Senior Services.

Dr. Paul Getto, who volunteers with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce at the Visitor Information Center in North Lawrence, meets with John Conrad at the center. Getto will be recognized Thursday for his volunteer efforts with the James & Virginia Seaver Award for Service by Douglas County Senior Services.

April 27, 2008


Seaver award

Douglas County Senior Services is honoring Dr. Paul Getto with the second annual James & Virginia Seaver Award. The award will be given at the Jazz It Up fundraiser Thursday at Maceli's.

Tickets are $75 per person and include dinner and dancing.

For more information, contact DCSS, 842-0543.

Retiring in Lawrence

By 2030, 20 percent of all Kansans are expected to be age 65 and older. Lawrence is already attracting a growing number of retirees, people with a connection to the university, those with children living here and others who just seem to enjoy the community. Can Lawrence capitalize on this growing population, and at what cost?

Drop by Munchers Bakery on Friday mornings and you are likely to see an older gentleman sharing stories and enjoying coffee and pastries. Look quickly, though, because he soon will be on his way.

At age 90, Dr. Paul Getto says retirement is nice but it doesn't mean you have to sit at home.

That's why James and Virginia Seaver suggested that Getto receive the second annual award given in their name by Douglas County Senior Services for his volunteer activities.

"Paul has always been so supportive of the events at the Senior Center. When we were asked for nominees, he was immediately thought of because he had done so much for the center," Virginia Seaver said. "He is someone that we thought reflected the reasons that the award was established."

Getto will be honored at the Jazz It Up fundraiser Thursday at Maceli's, 1031 N.H.

A move to Lawrence

At the time, a young Paul Getto did not know the effect that his decision to attend Kansas University would have on the rest of his life. Graduating from Jeannette High School in Jeannette, Pa., in 1935, he considered attending the University of Pittsburgh, where his brother Mike played football.

"But, I was the runt of the family," Getto said, "and knew that I wouldn't be playing ball."

Mike - an assistant football coach at KU - encouraged Paul to come to Kansas. Another brother, Ernie, had already followed Mike and was attending KU's medical school. So, Kansas it was.

"Besides, tuition at KU was $100 compared to $500 at Pitt," Getto said as he smiled.

Getto, one of six children of Italian immigrants, had been raised with a strong work ethic and the sense of being part of a community. Working his way through school, Getto became a bellhop at the Eldridge Hotel. He soon met a young cashier, Winnie Hagberg, at the hotel. Graduating from KU in 1939, Getto enrolled in the Kansas City Dental School with plans to open a practice, but World War II interrupted his plans. He finished dental school and enlisted in the Army. Assigned to the Army Medical Corps, he became one of several dentists at Maxwell Field near Montgomery, Ala.

The college friendship with Hagberg had developed into an engagement. She traveled to Montgomery, where they were married in October 1942 during one of Getto's weekend passes.

After Paul was discharged in 1946, Paul and Winnie moved to Pennsylvania, where he set up his practice. They visited family in Lawrence often. In 1949, Getto learned that office space was opening at 643 Mass., in the Lawrence National Bank Building, and the couple moved here. That's where he practiced for the next 40 years.

Active volunteer

A member of Rotary for more than 50 years, Getto has been active in the club's community projects, having been awarded the Paul Harris Award for service beyond self. He was a member of the board of directors of Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen (LINK) and assisted in establishing a foundation for this service. He was also instrumental in developing the television program "As Time Goes By" on Channel 6. The program is now "River City Weekly."

Getto, along with a group known as the Hard Chargers, began the Coupons for Caring fundraising program for the Douglas County Senior Services.

"He sustained the project, along with the group of people that he kept involved," said Janet Ikenberry, community services manager for the Douglas County Senior Services.

As a member of the Douglas County Senior Services board of directors from 1992 to 1998, Getto served as president in 1996.

"My wife keeps saying, 'Are you leaving again?'" he said, with a laugh.

It's easy to see why she asks because Getto is a volunteer escort at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. He also has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce for more than 50 years and meets monthly with the Dental Veterans Study Club.

He doesn't slow down on the weekends, either. Until recently, he was head usher at Trinity Episcopal Church and continues to be the regular Sunday afternoon host at the desk in the Visitors Center in the Union Pacific Depot.

"It is so difficult to get someone to be here for two hours each Sunday, but Paul is religious in being here," said Sonia Reetz, co-manager of the Visitors Center. "He is so knowledgeable about Lawrence, and the visitors catch on right away that he cares about it."

Getto credits his wife for this public service.

"She has helped me be aware of what could be done to help those in need," he said. "She is a very compassionate person."

Pattie Johnston is a fellow of the Citizen Journalism Academy, sponsored by The World Company and Kansas University's William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


TriSigmaKS 10 years, 1 month ago

If seniors are interested in volunteering, they should check out and read about the RSVP program. This is a great article!

Kathy Theis-Getto 10 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for the nice comments, warmer. We are certainly proud of him!

ForThePeople 10 years, 1 month ago

Congrats on a life "fully" and well lived...and still going strong. There is something to be said of putting others first. I think it's very interesting to read, how folks that give of themselves are often the ones that live longer and healthier lives. Mr. Getto is an inspiration and a wonderful gift to our are so many others that we do not hear about!

GSWtotheheart 10 years, 1 month ago

Nice to see a heart-warming inspiring story in LJW for once. Congratulations Dr. Getto, and keep up the good work! Your efforts are appreciated!

bearded_gnome 10 years, 1 month ago

pattie johnston did a very good job on this article. thanks for a great feature on a deserving man. ***until I read the comments, I was going to say "he's an ljworld poster too." but I see it is his son. or, does the dad post under another name? what a great story, and i am so glad that he still has the partnership of his wife of so many years. great, just great.

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