Herb Hoppe Herb Hoppe
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If Singapore were closer to Herb Hoppe’s house at the Normandy in Rocky River, the retired attorney just might consider a second home there. 

It’s an exotic, clean and modern destination. “It’s a grand city,” he says. “And a whale of a long ride from here.” 

But for Hoppe, the voyage is part of the adventure. 

Hoppe first explored the Far East in 2009 with his wife, Joanne, during a 50-day cruise. He had been retired for three years by then. 

“We enjoyed cruising,” he says. The ships they chose offered many formal nights when Hoppe would suit up in a tuxedo. “The whole nine yards,” he relates. “And that was part of the fun, as far as we were concerned.” 

In 2010, they embarked from New York City to Hong Kong on a 40-day cruise.  The next year, they traveled the rivers from Amsterdam to Switzerland and capped their adventures with a Caribbean excursion in 2012. 

Hoppe delighted in the convenience of lodging on board, while experiencing a range of destinations during one trip. 

“I enjoy the days at sea as much as anything else,” adds the 88-year-old, recalling his most recent cruise in 2015 with eight straight days at sea. “People look at me and say, ‘What did you do?’ Well, there was all sorts of things to do on board.” 

That’s the way Hoppe views the Normandy. He moved there in May 2014 after his wife died. They had been married for 57 years. 

Hoppe offers a tour of his two-bedroom apartment, with its sunny balcony and amenities that give him the freedom to leave for trips or stay and connect with other residents. He unfolds a calendar that’s filled with activities: outings, exercise classes, cocktail hours, a dining menu that he says is “really quite good,” he says, “more than good.”

Hoppe smiles and raises a brow. “See, it’s a lot like a cruise ship.”

Moving from his longtime home in Rocky River to the Normandy was what he had always planned. His parents lived there from 1979 to 1983, and the property is undergoing extensive renovations that Hoppe shows off. “Coming back to this, I’m very happy,” he says. 

He’s still restless with his passport, however. Hoppe travels to get a taste of places that are nothing like home. He travels because, as an active octogenarian, he still can. (Hoppe is currently president of Westlake-Bay Village Rotary Club.) Travel keeps him sharp and engaged. 

“I have had the opportunity to get a flavor of a lot of places,” he says. He points to Jakarta, Indonesia, and Bora Bora in French Polynesia as among his favorite stops.

Upon returning from trips, Hoppe enjoys sharing stories about his travels. The next trip on his bucket list is a cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, that will include a weeklong voyage along the Amazon River. 

“I’ll put on a slideshow for people here,” he says, noting how he takes and edits photos of his times away. 

All told, Hoppe has visited more than 20 countries in the 10 years since he retired from a 50-year law practice. “I just enjoy seeing snippets of places far away.”

On Saturday mornings, Peter Pesch takes a short walk from Judson Manor in University Circle to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, where he presents live wildlife shows. 

He guides a porcupine to its perch, handles a boa constrictor and lets curious visitors feel its skin. 

“I love it when kids make connections to nature,” says Pesch, who retired after 37 years as a professor of astronomy at Case Western Reserve University, chairman of the department and director of the Warner & Swasey Observatory. 

Pesch recalls a talk he was giving about possums. He asked his young audience if they knew how these animals protected themselves. “Plan A is to climb a tree, and they are really good at that because they have four feet and a tail,” he told the group. “But what happens if there is no tree?”

A little girl raised her hand, and Pesch called on her. “She threw herself to the ground and curled up in a fetal position,” he says, loving the uninhibited re-enactment of a possum playing dead. “Those wonderful reactions just make my day.” 

Pesch and his wife, Donna, are dedicated volunteers, racking up 3,583 total hours at the museum. Their efforts earned them the museum’s 2016 Kent Hale Smith Award for Outstanding Voluntary Service. 

They have worked with the department of ornithology, archiving 26,800 bird specimens into a database. After that, they moved on to the vertebrate collection. Now, they’re working through files left by the museum’s late entomologist, Sonja Teraguchi. 

“Years ago, Donna volunteered for her collecting moths in the middle of the night,” Pesch says. 

Indeed, the couple shares a love for the natural world and the urban, cultural environment in University Circle. The Pesches moved to Judson Manor this summer.

“I have always been an educator,” Pesch says. “What I like about the museum is that it’s a way to continue teaching, and I enjoy that.” 

He encourages other retirees to stay active and find something they enjoy doing. 

“Give back to the community,” he says, “because we have all benefited from institutions and organizations.” 

At Judson, Donna spends time helping with the library committee and getting involved in other activities on-site. “We are basically social animals,” he adds. “Here we are making new friends while maintaining longtime friendships. It’s a good life.”

Danbury Senior Living has a resident fine photographer with an eye for detail, technical prowess and first-class printing skills (with awards to prove it). In part, that’s because Jim Kunkel follows his own photographic advice: “Keep shooting!” he says. 

Kunkel joined the Cleveland Photographic Society in 1980. After years of hobby photography, he wanted to enter contests and create perfect prints. 

Today, visitors at Danbury in Broadview Heights who stop in Kunkel’s suite can see a sampling of his work. He loves talking about photography and teaching others. 

“One lady brought her granddaughter to see my pictures last week — a seventh-grader,” Kunkel says. “I showed her my prints, and she showed me the photos on her iPhone.” 

Technology has evolved significantly since Kunkel first fell in love with photography while aboard the USS Princeton aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy. His first camera was an Argus C4 35 mm, and he made slides of Okinawa, Japan, and Hawaii to share back home. 

After serving, Kunkel worked at Goodyear Aircraft Corp. building electronics for Matador missiles. Then he moved to AT&T, where he stayed for 32 years. 

He retired at age 58 and took to photography full time. 

“I like making large prints and showing people how to do it,” says Kunkel, who created a canvas print of his nephew’s wedding. 

Kunkel got more involved in the Cleveland Photographic Society in Broadview Heights, where he taught fundamental and darkroom classes for more than 17 years. 

“The club wouldn’t be what it is today without him,” says Lisa Adcock, a historian for the photographic society who met Kunkel about five years ago. 

“His work is outstanding to look at,” she says. “He’s always willing to share his knowledge, and he is very welcoming. 

“I want to be like him!” Adcock continues. “To have that list of credentials and a friendly attitude.” 

Kunkel placed third in a Kodak Color Print contest in the 1980s for his photograph Lighthouse. 

He has competed and won numerous color print competitions, earning president awards from the club and recognition from outside the club. 

Adcock wrote an article about Kunkel for the club’s newsletter, The Darkroom Door. 

“He took me on a tour of his home [in Parma] at the time,” she says. “He had a large format printer, a huge computer with monitors and a space where he produced his 3-D nature slides with a lightbox desk.” 

Less than a year ago, Kunkel moved to the Danbury, which is right across the street from the photographic society’s offices. 

He still enjoys photographing nature and wildlife — scenes he finds throughout the country, such as Monument Valley in Arizona — and close to home in the Cleveland Metroparks and Cuyahoga Valley National Park. 

“He is still passionate about it,” Adcock says simply. 

Sy Levine wore a tux and walked a red carpet into the Chagrin Valley Little Theatre, accompanied by his son and daughter-in-law, who had not told the retired Brush High School English teacher and actor that he was the man of honor. 

“They had Champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and all of a sudden I saw my picture and name up on the screen,” says Levine, 87, who lives at the Weils in Chagrin Falls. 

Levine, who started acting at the youth theater in 1968, was honored with its President’s Award in September. 

“My wife always knew where to find me,” he says of the evenings and weekends he spent rehearsing at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre. “I love entertaining, and I always had a good time singing, dancing and meeting other people.”

Levine played roles in Guys and Dolls, Fiddler on the Roof, 1776, Man of La Mancha and, his most recent performance in 2009, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He was Grandpa George. 

Some residents at the Weils know of Levine’s dramatic resume. Others know him better as their former English teacher, including a manager who was a student. 

“I knew him right away!” Levine says of the connection. 

When Brush High School learned of Levine’s honor at the theater, some put word out on the high school’s Facebook page. Levine received many congratulations. 

“I got lots of replies,” he adds, noting that students reached out to him. “They wanted to have a reunion — but I told them, ‘You better check with [the Weils],’ ” he quips. 

Levine was a popular teacher who enjoyed teaching The Great Gatsby and Shakespeare plays, from Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet. 

“I loved the students, loved them asking questions and seeing if I could answer them,” he says. 

After retiring from Brush High School in 1998, Levine went on to teach English at Lakeland Community College for 10 years. 

Levine still challenges himself with crossword puzzles and continues to teach when the Weils’ in-house rabbi asks him to add literary flair to talks. “I have talked about Hamlet and Shakespeare, how some of their plays became Broadway musicals,” he says. 

During his working years, Levine was a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and worked with David Lee Studios. 

At the Weils, he takes advantage of outings to restaurants and music programs, including piano players and singers who sometimes entertain residents. He has lived there for 2 1/2 years, moving from his Mayfield Heights apartment. The company, safety and hospitality make for a pleasant lifestyle. 

“This is a wonderful place to live,” he says