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Month: July 2022

Dan Lipski

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Dan Lipski: Music to his Ears

In 2017, Dan Lipski was in the prime of his career as a concert tour manager.

Dan had just finished working with Joe Jonas, who had announced a concert break. He had recently made Oregon his home base, buying a house in Portland, and fixing it up comfortably.

Then his parents, Vicki and Doug, received a call that changed their life.

“When the phone rang on election night, we initially weren’t answering because we thought it was a belated call telling us to vote,” said Vicki. “But then we realized it was the American embassy in Washington, D.C.”

Dan, 32, had been hit by a bus in Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand. He was taken to a Chinese-run hospital “where he received excellent care,” said Vicki, and had brain surgery. Second and third brain surgeries were performed at an English-speaking hospital in Thailand.

“His injuries were severe,” said Vicki. “He was hit on the right side, and is hemiplegic on that side.”

Doug and Vicki spent five weeks in Thailand trying to get Dan stabilized and transferred to the United States. Dan was Medivac-ed to OHSU where he remained for a month, undergoing tests to see if more could be done for him, and rehabilitating.

“And then we were lucky enough to find Cedar Sinai Park and, believe me, finding a nursing home was a tall, tall order because of his age and physical challenges,” said Vicki.

“We tried every place,” she said. “We basically called everyone. Someone recommended Cedar Sinai Park and then we just happened to be in the area so we took a look.

“It’s such a lovely facility. Compared to what we had seen, this looked pretty terrific.”

It’s such a lovely facility. Compared to what we had seen, this looked pretty terrific.

Dan was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, and attended high school in Chicago. He didn’t play an instrument, but he adored music. At age 20, he began managing an Irish American punk band for free, sleeping in his car, to get his foot in the door of the business.

“He was very independent, and was at the age of trying to find himself,” said Vicki.

Dan worked for other bands such as 3OH!3 and Barenaked Ladies. He loved working for Joe Jonas, but wasn’t keen on taking a break from work when Joe decided on a rest.

“That was why he was in Thailand,” said Vicki, “because Shawn Mendes was playing there and he went there for a job interview because he wanted to keep working.”

“You like music, Dan?” he’s asked.

“Oh, my God!” said Dan.

“What kind of music? Heavy metal?!”

Dan just throws back his head and laughs. He said his favorite bands are Nirvana and Thrice. He likes Major Pain and often wears a DNCE hat. The walls in his room of the T. Robert and Mitzi Tobias Hall at Cedar Sinai Park are covered with music memorabilia and he frequently has music playing, or is watching a music video.

Dan has come a long way. He looks you in the eyes and reaches your soul.

“When Dan arrived here, he would only nod and shake his head. Every day, we worked on conversations so he has a voice, said Susie Willard, health information specialist. “Dan has come a long way. He looks you in the eyes and reaches your soul.”

Said Lupe Garcia, CNA: He’s such a sweet guy. He always appreciates what we do for him. He asks, ‘How do you say thank you in Spanish?’ He remembers my name. He knows where I’m from and he’s very happy that I know he likes coffee and bananas in the morning.

“I really care about him.”

In April, Willard and Community Life Director Jennifer Felberg took Dan to see singer LP.

“It was neat because his friends are all tour guys and they hadn’t had a chance to see him because they’re traveling all the time,” said Felberg. “His friends arranged for VIP status and showered him with attention.

“He got to be himself with his buddies, a lot of handshakes and dudes and he even drank a beer. It was a magical night and reminded me again of our mission.

“Dan could not say ‘thank you’ enough. It was nice to make the night happen for him.”

Dan is an avid reader and particularly enjoys the Jewish history books shared by former volunteer and board chair (1993-1994) Ruby Sachter, with whom he still Facetimes.

With four years at Cedar Sinai Park now, Vicki hopes that Dan will be willing and able at some point to use a wheelchair so he can go to a group foster home. Pain management is another issue.

Until then, Vicki said she feels welcome when she visits Dan every Tuesday.

“I feel like I can get Dan what he needs when he needs it,” she said.

“I love you, mom,” said Dan.

“I love you. See you next week. Bye, honey.”


Pete Brown

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Pete Brown: Singing to Entertain

It’s almost time for Pete Brown’s sing-a-long in Rose Schnitzer Manor’s Marcy’s Bar and the residents are already in their chairs waiting for the show to begin.

Even wearing a mask, Pete draws a crowd every time with his quiet, folksy manner and simple, singable song choices. Residents are encouraged to sing along to classics like Four Leaf Clover or Being a Pirate or This Land is Your Land.

“The residents love this activity,” said Fabiana Dal Cero, Life Enrichment activity manager.

Pete, almost 81, grew up in Denver, Colorado, and was encouraged by his high school teacher to pursue mathematics, at which he was determined to succeed. But he “didn’t do a lot of singing.”

He attended Dartmouth in New Hampshire, earning a bachelor of arts in math, and singing informally with friends while playing the ukulele. It was the early 1960’s and Dartmouth was all male and there were “all kinds of people who liked to play and sing.” Said Pete: “I was completely self-taught; music was just a hobby.”

Pete then attended a one-year graduate program at Harvard and received his master of arts in teaching. After graduate school, he taught high school math and coached gymnastics at an Evanston high school (to be closer to future wife, Janet Rabenstein, who was a year behind him in school and from Illinois), and then the couple returned to Dartmouth together where they had originally met on a blind date, and Pete worked in the admissions office.  They had two sons.

“I got more into music when we returned to Dartmouth and spent a lot of time playing hootenannies,” said Pete. “I carried a little book of songs in which I kept adding new ones.”

After seven years, Pete and Jan moved to Walla Walla where Pete was the associate dean of admissions and coached diving. The family stayed in Walla Walla for nine years and added another son and an adopted daughter from Korea.

“I loved the small college feel and the location,” said Pete. “We were avid skiers, and we played bridge. But I have to say that I’m most proud of raising four children.”

The Brown family spent nine years in Walla Walla and then moved to Lake Oswego, where Pete was director of admissions for Lewis & Clark College for seven years.

Moving to Moscow, Idaho, Pete was director of admissions and financial aid at the University of Idaho for several years until budget cuts ended the job.

At that point, he turned his childhood hobby of baseball card collecting into a business, buying a sports card store that he named Browns Cooperstown. After 10 years in Idaho, Pete moved the store to Seattle and was there for 25 years.

I’m most proud of raising four children.

When Jan began struggling with Parkinson’s, the pair moved to a Ballard senior living facility before investigating homes in Portland with more care.

“I had been hiring caregivers to come in 24 hours a day to help me care for my wife, but I realized that was not going to work in the long erm,” said Pete. “One of the reasons we came here was for Jan to get overnight nursing care. It was also important to me to be able to find a home where I could live with my wife.”

The older Brown sons lived in Portland and sent Pete brochures. Jan moved into the Tonkin household and Pete lived in an apartment in Rose Schnitzer Manor. Pete ate all his meals with Jan and volunteered to lead sing-a-longs at the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living while Jan lived there. She died in December 2019.

“She was extremely bright and so energetic,” remembers Pete.

And then the pandemic hit and music became an important outlet and connector. “I would open my apartment door and put on my face mask and go sing in the hallways with people sitting in the hallways to listen with their masks on,” said Pete. “Once we were on lockdown, Cathy [Zheutlin, spiritual life director] helped me record the songs so we could put them on the internal television channel.”

Now, Pete leads sing-a-longs in Marcy’s Bar one day a week. He still wears a mask; a small microphone is tied around his neck. And the residents come to listen and to follow along with their printed song sheets.

I think Cedar Sinai Park has been a good match for me.

In addition to Pete’s sons in Oregon, another son resides in Florida, and Pete’s daughter is in Seattle. Pete has six grandchildren and reads to four of them over Zoom one night a week at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time; right now, they’re tackling Pippi Longstocking. One of Pete’s Portland grandsons, Asa, delivered meals at Cedar Sinai Park in the summer of 2020.

“I’m happy here for the time being,” said Pete. “I thought the care my wife received was very good; it served our purpose.

“I think Cedar Sinai Park has been a good match for me.”


Cedar Sinai Park Benefit Raises More than $500K

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

From skits in Marcy’s Bar to residents sharing stories of what makes Cedar Sinai Park so special, the nonprofit senior living community’s annual benefit on May 12 was full of fun and laughs.

“The expression of love was truly moving,” said Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Fuson. “Watching our community come together was inspiring.”

Board Member Felicia Rosenthal agreed: “The benefit show was so genuine and the heart was so apparent that you knew this was a community.”

Presenting sponsors included Jordan Schnitzer, Ralph & Sandi Miller, and Marcy Tonkin. Tonkin is the namesake and benefactor of Marcy’s Bar, located in Rose Schnitzer Manor.

“A very special thank you goes to Marcy,” said Fuson. “At the end of the evening, Marcy generously gifted us even more than she originally gave, to close the gap toward our $500,000 goal.”

Go to: avstream.me/marcysbar if you missed the show, or want to watch it again online.

“While we are thrilled to have met our goal for the benefit, the needs of Cedar Sinai Park are ongoing,” said Fuson. “Every dollar helps us to serve our residents in the manner they deserve so completely: with love, honor, and respect.

It’s also not too late to donate to support residents at Cedar Sinai Park. Go to: https://cedarsinaipark.kindful.com/.

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Annette Gerard: Selling it Like it is

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Need some candy or a card? Forgot to buy laundry detergent? Or would you like Judaica for a Jewish holiday?

Rose Schnitzer Manor’s Stop N’ Shop has you covered.

“We have a tremendous number of items for sale, including jewelry,” said Annette Gerard, 96, who has managed the Stop N’ Shop with the help of volunteers for the past five years, and volunteered at the store for seven years prior. “We have a few connections who donate items or give us stuff at cost, and we have a good amount of stock now.”

No one can quite remember when the Stop N’ Shop officially opened. But Facilities Manager Tammy Heard believes the store began around 20 years ago. The space used to house a coffee bar for residents.

Today, the Stop N’ Shop is open four days a week (Monday through Thursday) from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Each day, different volunteers help residents and their families ring up their purchases.

“It’s hard to know what might sell on any given day,” said Annette. “Sometimes, people will come in and see candy in the front of the display that reminds them of their childhood. It can be weeks before I sell laundry detergent and then three people will come in on the same day and clear out the shelf.”

Monday volunteer Margaret Gotesman (pictured at left with Annette) is the store buyer. “She comes in on Monday, looks around, takes inventory, and sees what we need,” said Annette. “She knows what sells and then goes out to shop.  The following Monday, she brings in new items, puts on a price, and then it’s out for sale.”

Two volunteers–Barbara Rudolph (Tuesdays) and Marilyn Soulas (Wednesdays)— had mothers’ living at Rose Schnitzer Manor and volunteered to help Annette even after their family members passed. Elaine Salburg is a friend of Marilyn and Margaret and tackles Thursdays. Annette fills in on the days her volunteers have timing conflicts. All monies raised go to the Cedar Sinai Park Foundation.

“The four volunteers are wonderful,” said Annette. “We wouldn’t be open without them.”

Annette and her husband, Melvin, lived in Queens, New York, for 60 years. Melvin was an engineer and started a business designing equipment in 1965. The pair worked out of the family home, and Annette became the bookkeeper and secretary.

When Melvin died, Annette moved to Oregon after a few years and selected Rose Schnitzer Manor because she has four grandchildren and five great grandchildren in Portland.

“I like it here,” said Annette. “They take good care of us. They really do. The staff is wonderful. And the residents are very nice. And there’s a lot of activities.”

The walls in Annette’s apartment are filled with art creations: pictures in 3-dimension and others with intricately glued watch parts. Yarn lays on the sofa, waiting for Annette to turn it into a hat or scarf (Annette has donated nearly 4600 hats and scarves to charity, including Ukraine support groups).

“I make a hat every day while I watch television,” said Annette.

With her 97th birthday coming up in a few months, Annette has been training her heir apparent to coordinate the Stop N’ Shop books. There’s no firm date on when the transition is official, but store procedures have been drafted and systems already passed on.

“Somebody needs to do the bookkeeping,” said Annette. “I like the socializing with the customers. So, I’ll be here until I’m not needed any more.”


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