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Retirees Keep Their Connection To St. John's Strong

Monday, November 4, 2013

Being retired means different things to different people, but if you’re a former employee of St. John’s University, it means staying connected to the friends and former colleagues with whom you spent so many years.

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At the Fall 2013 Retirees Association Luncheon, more than 120 men and women who devoted years of their professional life to St. John’s came back to campus to renew their connection to the University while catching up with friends from the past.

According to Rev. Joseph V. Daly, C.M. ’73G, ’75GEd , Special Assistant to the President and Moderator of the Retirees Association, St. John’s will always have a special place in its heart for the people who, day in and day out, called the University their second home.

“St. John’s will always be grateful for the accomplishments and contributions of our retirees,” said Fr. Daly. “What we are today is, in large measure, because of them and how much they did for the entire University community when they were here. On a personal note, the Retirees Association Luncheon is one of the events that I really look forward to. I have a lot of good memories of those days gone by, and the people who were here with me. It’s always great to see them again.”

The Retirees Association was created to allow former employees and their spouses an opportunity to maintain their active involvement with the St. John’s community. In addition to the semi-annual luncheon and a variety of trips to museums and other interesting locations in and around New York, the Association produces a twice-yearly newsletter to keep the members informed about what’s happening at the University.

“Our retirees are very important to St. John’s because they are a wonderful public relations group,” noted Susan Damiani ’87CBA, Director, Office of Gift Planning. “Their commitment to the University developed over so many years of working here, and that means a lot to us. I really feel that whatever information we share with them about St. John’s, they are so happy to spread the good news about the wonderful things that are happening here.”

Although she retired more than 15 years ago, learning about what’s happening at St. John’s is one of the reasons why Eleanor Zimmermann regularly attends the Retirees Association Luncheon. She began working at St. John’s in 1984, first as a part-time worker and later as a full-time employee in The School of Education, where she helped to set up the student teaching placements for seniors about to graduate.

She is impressed by the many changes that have taken place at the University over the years.

“I think that what we’re calling the new St. John’s is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “The University has done an awful lot since I retired. It’s gotten larger and more diverse, and has added so many great facilities for the students. But what impresses me the most is that the heart of the University is still the same. The values and the mission never change. I think it’s a wonderful place and I think that the students who come here get an exceptional experience.”

For Joan Zanni, staying active in the Retirees Association is all about keeping in touch with the friends she made during her days at the University.

A recent retiree, Zanni spent nearly three decades at St. John’s, working with some of the University’s most senior administrators. During that time she helped to coordinate the Retirees Association Luncheon, making the event especially poignant when she now returns to enjoy it as a guest.

“I used to run these luncheons with Dr. Tony Bonaparte,” she recalled, “because he was the originator of the Retirees Association, at Fr. Harrington’s direction. I like coming back and seeing my old friends. I must say that my best memory of St. John’s is that I really enjoyed working with all the people. I started as a Stenographer in the Academic Vice President’s Office. I was handling administrative records, and then that was encompassed by the Human Resources Office, and I was doing that plus other administrative work. And then I was asked to be a Secretary in the President’s Office, working for Dr. Dorothy Habben. I had wonderful years at St. John’s, and I’ll cherish those memories forever.”