Soon after her retirement in 2003, Sandra Wiechert became a member of the Endacott Society at Kansas University. Her husband, Allen, had been a member since his retirement in 1995, and, although they’re both Kansas State University alumni, they feel a sense of community with the Endacott Society.
“It’s just such a lively group,” Wiechert said. “Even though we’re all retirees, it’s certainly never stale.”
The Endacott Society is open to university retirees and their spouses and has about 350 members. It was founded in 1984 after KU alumnus Paul Endacott presented a plan to the KU Endowment Association to create a KU retirees club.
About 60 society members meet every Wednesday at the Adams Alumni Center for coffee and conversation.
In addition, about 15 interest groups meet weekly, monthly or quarterly for activities such as computer studies, gardening, singing for fun, classic cinema viewing, cards, drama, afternoon lectures, evening potlucks and out-of-town travel.
“It’s both a learning and a social organization,” said Jerry Niebaum, a society member. “It’s for people who are interested in continuing to learn.”
The society welcomes any university retiree, which is different from many similar organizations on other campuses, said Niebaum.
There are faculty retiree groups elsewhere, but they don’t include other employees and staff. The KU group’s broad membership provides many opportunities for interaction a retiree might not experience otherwise.
“After you retire from the university, there aren’t many opportunities to interact with colleagues,” Niebaum said. “This is one of them.”
A special program of the Endacott Society is the Oral History Project, in which retiring faculty and staff are interviewed about their lives and KU careers.
Wiechert has been the coordinator of the oral history project since 2004.
“They tell their lifetime stories, their early careers and their careers at KU,” Wiechert said. “So it’s really a complete history of the U.S. and, of course, of KU.”
Transcribed copies are sent to KU Archives, the Adams Center library, and to the retiree. So far, 535 oral histories have been recorded.
Those interested in joining the Endacott Society can learn more at kuonlinedirectory.org/endacott. There is no fee; only membership in the KU Alumni Association is required.
“We do so many fun things together and things that involve so much learning,” Wiechert said. “There’s always new people coming in, and it’s a group that constantly has new ideas.”