For Stephenson, 88, active life `is a cinch'


October 03, 2001|By Heather Tepe | Heather Tepe,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AT AGE 88, Hilda Stephenson is more active than a lot of folks half her age. Her normal routine includes an aerobics class five days a week. After class, she walks from Harper's Choice Village Center to The Mall in Columbia to catch a bus home.

"It's really nothing," Stephenson said. "To me it's a cinch. I think I was doing exercises when I was a baby. I was standing on my head until about four years ago."

Born in North Carolina, Ste phenson spent most of her life in New York City, moving to Columbia in 1979. Her son, Allan Stephenson, 63, resides in Wilde Lake village while her daughter, Beverly Taylor, 65, lives in New York.

Last year, mother and daughter were featured in an issue of Essence magazine and have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show as examples of age-defying beauty and as role models for active senior citizens.

"I honestly believe exercise keeps you young," Allan Stephenson said. "My mother and sister look much younger than their years. I hope we all hold up as well."

He said that his mother passed her penchant for exercise on to her children and grandchildren. His sister race-walks, plays golf and climbs mountains. "I was a pretty good amateur boxer as a young man, and I still work out religiously," he said.

Allan exercises three times a week at Colosseum Gym, where his son, Allan Stephenson Jr., is a personal trainer. Allan Jr. trains both his sister, Dianne Moe, and his mother, Deloris Stephenson.

Deloris Stephenson teaches social studies at Harper's Choice Middle School. Moe is a guidance counselor at Jeffers Hill Elementary School.

Anne Tart takes aerobics classes at Florence Bain Senior Center with Hilda Stephenson. "She's a good role model for other seniors with her outlook and the way the she participates in things," Tart said.

Tart credits aerobics instructor Anna Levin for keeping the class lively. "She uses tapes from our era, music from the '40s, '50s and '60s. She leads us in chair exercises with weights and mat exercises for stretching," Tart said.

When asked for advice on what, besides exercise, one should do to live to a ripe old age, Hilda Stephenson replied, "You should wait until I'm 100 and ask me again."

Mrs. Z wins award

Former Harper's Choice resident Peg Zabawa received an award from the Howard County branch of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill last month for her work on behalf of the mentally ill.

For five years in the 1970s and 1980s, Zabawa ran Mrs. Z's Restaurant in Columbia. When the restaurant burned down, Mrs. Z closed her business.

She became involved in volunteering to help the mentally ill through Covenant Community Church. She put her culinary skills to use during Saturday Night Live, a weekly gathering at her home where people coping with mental illness were invited to share a pot of homemade soup, home-baked bread and dessert.

Zabawa also was instrumental in creating the Z Cafe, a Friday afternoon gathering with tea and snacks held at Sheppard Pratt's Growth Center.

"Peg Zabawa has been a dedicated contributor to the field of mental illness," said Jean Leslie, an administrator with NAMI of Howard County. "She's a very compassionate person who was never personally touched by mental illness, but out of the goodness of her heart found time to help this community."

Zabawa recently moved to an assisted-living facility in Ellicott City, but the Z Cafe and Saturday Night Live continue to thrive.

Information about NAMI: 410-772-9300.

Parenting resource fair

Wilde Lake High School will be the venue for the SPARKS Community Resource Fair from 6:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

SPARKS (Successful Parenting of Adolescents Requires Knowledge and Support) fairs help parents of teen-agers identify community resources and support services for dealing with the challenges involved in raising teens.

Dr. Daniel Pine, an internationally recognized expert on adolescence, will discuss "Teen Behavior: Ready, Set, Respond ... or Not!"

After Pine's presentation, parents will have the opportunity to visit more than 45 exhibitions of resources available to adolescents and their parents.

Admission is free; refreshments will be served.

Information: 410-740-7605.

Ruther retires

Helen Ruther, Town Center's covenant adviser for 18 years, retired Sept. 4. She was instrumental in guiding the growth of the community and assisting residents with covenant compliance.

A resident of Town Center, Ruther served as the village's first Columbia Council representative in 1976. She served as a member, vice chairwoman and chairwoman of the Howard County Planning Board between 1977 and 1992.

"Helen is the historian for the village," said Patricia Laidig, village manager for Town Center. "Her wealth of knowledge served the community for 18 years. She will continue volunteering with the Planning Board, so we'll still have the benefit of her historical perspective."

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