Sunday Election Issues - 28 September 2008
The Oldest Old Project: Nancy Leitz

The Oldest Old Project: Ramona Moorman

[EDITORIAL NOTE: I am out of town for several days this week. In my absence, are stories from five elders and/or bloggers who have contributed to what I am calling The Oldest Old Project. They had to be at least 80 to participate and I asked how their lives had changed in the 20 or more years since they were 60. Today, Ramona Moorman who runs a newspaper in Marcellus, Michigan, but I’ll let her tell you about that.]

Yes, I am one of the old, old, having just celebrated my 80th birthday last month. It has amused me to learn people between the age of 50 and 60 consider themselves elders.

There have been big changes in my life between 65 and 80. The biggest challenge I faced during the years was becoming a widow at the age of 71, and consequently inheriting my husband’s lifelong career.

He had been the editor/publisher of one of two small-town, weekly newspapers we have owned since 1950. When his health began to fail a couple months before he died in 1999, I began helping him publish the newspaper. I had not previously been very involved in the business.

For most of my married life I was a stay-at-home Mom with four children. At 50 years of age, a friend of mine and I started a wallpaper decorating business. Both of us had been very active and busy in our community as volunteers, but decided it was time for a change. After retiring from the business, it was back to volunteering, until I took on the role of editor/publisher.

My husband’s funeral was on a Sunday and the next day, putting one foot in front of the other, with the help of my children and friends, we got the paper out and I have been doing so since then. Yes, it has been a challenge, but a rewarding one. One, which to me, has become more of an enjoyable hobby, rather than a duty.

Fortunately, I received a computer as a gift for my 70th birthday. Had I not learned to use it, it would have been very difficult for me to take over publishing the paper. Watching me use the computer and seeing that the results would be suitable for composing the newspaper, my husband purchased a computer for one of his employees to replace a clunky, smelly, hard-to-use Compugraphic machine. Soon after I became the publisher we were completely computerized.

I chuckled when I read Steve’s comment to your September 22 column. I don’t think anyone reading our weekly newspaper considers it “fluff.” I have been involved in peace and justice, nuclear freeze and women's movements since the late 70’s. Naturally, our newspaper now reflects my interests and we took an early stand in opposition to the Iraq War and to the Bush regime.

My small village is in the midst of a heavily Republican area and needless to say, many critical and harsh letters to the editor were received, nevertheless people kept on subscribing. And, has the nation, the majority of people in our area now oppose the war.

What is important to me at my age really hasn’t changed a great deal from when I was younger. Family, friends, work, community, life-long learning and trying to “make a difference” has always been important.

Of course, physical activities have changed. I used to enjoy tennis, bowling and cross-country skiing, but now enjoy other less physical demanding activities. I have also learned to turn over to others some of the heavier household activities that I used to enjoy.

Years ago, I used to take part in peace marches and protests, not only in our area but also in Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Now, I stand for peace in our village on one Saturday a month.

Thankfully, I can say that my life at 80 years of age is good, I am contented. I am also grateful for the change in my personal life that computers and the internet have brought.

The internet has enlarged my world. Although I spend a lot of time reading books, newspapers and periodicals, I find I rely more and more on the internet to keep me informed.

Although I don’t have a blog, I enjoy reading blogs; yours is a first-read every morning. There are many authors of blogs that I think would be great friends. Also, I find shopping on the internet for needs and gifts is much easier than having to go to stores. The only drawback to it is that I find book shopping on Amazon 1-click is sometimes too easy.

I am deeply troubled about the disastrous condition of our country and sincerely hope the November election will bring changes we desperately need. I am ashamed of the depressing legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Florence Hart Millo gives us more than one good reason her mother's entrepreneurship was important in My Mother's Business.]


Thank you for writing this report. It is a true testament to how living an active life keeps an active mind. It is admirable that you took over the responsibilities of the paper at a time when most of us would have felt overwhelmed.

P.S. the link doesn't seem to work today.


The link worked just now when I checked it.

What an inspiring story! I will be 57 this year and work with my husband producing videos. Over the last 15 years I have become comfortable with my abilities to write and edit. I used to think it would be wonderful to be able to retire but now I just see us working using our skills the rest of our lives and doing better and better projects. I shoud be really good at what I do when I am 80!
And my beloved girl cat is named Ramona. I read somewhere it means "wise protectress".
Thank you for your story.

Ramona--Interesting story. Thank you for filling in for Ronni.

All--Let's hear it, now, for Ramona: Hip, Hip, Hooray!
Hip, Hip, Hooray!
Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Now this is my kinda' news, dontcha'know! Thank you so much. How refreshing to hear about "older" elders & what life is like at this age. Ronni, how astute of you to add this to your web site which is always fresh with new ideas & so reassuring. Thanks. Dee

Ramona, welcome to the Octogenarian group. We are still a productive bunch, but you surpass me in that area. I don't think I would be able to work now and I do admire your ability to continue doing so.

Because I was out of town I was unable to participate in this project. It will be interesting to compare my views with the other elder elders.

Thanks so much, Ramona. Your courage in publishing an apparently progressive newspaper in a conservative town is a great example to me.

I'd like to know more about why it amuses you that people in their 50s consider themselves "elders." If you do another guest appearance, I'd like to hear more about that.


I really enjoyed reading your story. I admire you so much for publishing your paper. That took a great deal of courage on your part and I especially admire the way you print what you believe, not what you think your subscribers want to hear.

Good for you.....

Thank you for your post, Ramona! I am a mere "baby" at 61 years, and I sometimes become discouraged about what I can do to contribute to society. Your example is inspiring to me. It shows me that I can be engaged, productive, and lead a fulfilling life whatever my age!

What an enterprising woman you are - I'm impressed with what you have accomplished and what you are doing now!! Great example of what a person can do even when they are "old-old."

I think like you do - when I hear someone who's in their 50's and 60's and say they are OLD, they don't understand what old is!!

I'm 83 and just begining to accept the fact that I'm old-old. Mike's right, he's just a "baby."

To respomd to Mary Jamison, "you are as old as you think you are. Think old and you'll be old!

I crossed paths on the Net with Ramona years ago, when she left me a comment on my blog. We have emailed now and then since, and I have developed the utmost respect and admiration for her mind and motives. I am so glad that she told her story here, since she doesn't have a blog. She is a remarkable woman.

I enjoyed your story and especially how you persevered and now have 'converted' some of those Republicans! I have newspaperwomen in my extended family and I know how hard you work! Your gracious story helps us see how the next years might unfold as productive and interesting. Thanks! (I turn 60 Nov. 16th, and it seems unbelievable!)

what a wonderful essay. how very important for those of us in longterm relationships to see how late in life changes can occur--sometimes out of necessity.

it's especially a pleasure to read about another elder concerned about our political scene and talking about being a participant in change. thanks so much from a 75 year old who also wonders about those 50/60 year olds defining themselves as elders. think it's the media?

I'm sorry to say that Ramona "Mona" Moorman passed away March 24, 2018. We knew her from that little town in Southwest Michigan. She was the cornerstone of our community and the mortar that held it together. She not only edited, owned and operated the Marcellus News, she WAS the Marcellus News, and so much more. She will be missed by all who knew and loved her.

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