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Read About Our Road Scholar Heroes

Joan McFadden

In 1959, American Airlines introduced the world to a nearly space-age concept of modern travel — the jet airliner. Coincidentally, this was also the first year that Road Scholar participant Joan McFadden took to the skies.

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For nearly a year and a half, Joan enjoyed the glamourous lifestyle of a flight attendant, crisscrossing the country as the airline made long-distance travel an everyday possibility. Her career came to an end as she got married — an airline rule that meant she must give up her globetrotting responsibilities — but that certainly didn’t mean an end to adventure for Joan.

Joan’s husband, Bob, worked for the Department of Defense, a career that led them to travel extensively and live in interesting places like Oahu and Germany. They had a family, Joan became a teacher and then a realtor; in her free time she learned how to scuba dive.

Her life of adventure came to a standstill when Bob was diagnosed with ALS. She became a caregiver to her husband of 47 years, and after his passing, wondered how to move on with her life.

“Caregiving is more than most people should have to bear, but you do it,” says Joan. “About six or seven months after Bob’s death, the fog started to lift a bit. But I knew that I had to do something life-changing.”

The something that Joan was searching for appeared in the form of a Road Scholar catalog. Thinking back on her affinity for scuba diving, Joan enrolled in her first program in Palau.

“The program wasn’t focused on scuba diving, but did involve snorkeling. When I called up and spoke with an Advisor and asked about scuba, Road Scholar arranged for me to have time on my own with a scuba instructor in Palau. That was amazing and was what I needed to push me forward,” says Joan, a member of the Road Scholar Class of ’10.

Perhaps it was something in the water — or something about the wonderful participants she met on her first Road Scholar learning adventure — but Joan was hooked. She signed up for her next learning adventure in Australia, where once again she arranged for a day of scuba in the Great Barrier Reef with a few other participants.

“Of course I was young back then,” quips Joan. “I was in my early 70s. But it was transformative.”

Since then, Joan has continued to explore the world with Road Scholar. She has learned from locals about Gross National Happiness in Bhutan, listened to the blues in Memphis, and ridden in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon with her granddaughter, Marissa.

Joan’s gratitude for Road Scholar educational adventures has taken another step — in the form of a charitable gift annuity. A member of the Road Scholar Legacy Society, Joan says, “A charitable gift annuity supports Road Scholar, and it supports me. I don’t know how long I will live, and it’s certainly nice to have steady income. With a charitable gift annuity, you help yourself and the organization, and you have a win-win!”

Road Scholar learning adventures have brought many positive things to Joan’s life. “Healing, for one,” says Joan. “Adventure. Things to look forward to and new people to meet.” Most notably, a new look at love.

“A year and a half ago, I took the Road Scholar World Academy program from England to Singapore. On longer trips you get to know your fellow travelers very well, and I got to know a very nice gentleman who is now a part of my life,” she says. “Thank you, Road Scholar!”

Faith Levitt

It sounds like something from the Mary Tyler Moore Show: An ambitious and attractive woman from the Midwest applies for a newsroom position at WISH-8 in Indianapolis in 1963. The station’s program manager has her in mind for the role of a lifestyle reporter, where she would share with female viewers the latest on hair rollers and the newest line of fondue pots.

But Faith Levitt had other ideas.

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In an article on Faith by Amanda Kingsbury of the Indy Star, the station’s program manager Dave Smith reminisced, “One of our announcers was interviewing her, and she said, ‘I noticed that there are hardly any female news reporters in your building. Now, why is that?’ The guy, well, he was at a loss for words. I said, ‘That’s the girl we need.’”

A graduate of Columbia University, Faith had been a homemaker for 15 years and was still raising her five children when she interviewed for the position. After securing the position, she made sure that her female viewers learned about more than fashion and cutting-edge homemaking technology.

At 6 feet tall and with elaborately coiffed hair that soon became her trademark, Faith began to make a name for herself as the first woman in Indiana to work in a TV news department. She led a series on adoption, focusing on children with special needs. She confronted slumlords and interviewed a leading transgender activist. She asked Ms. USA her opinion on birth control and didn’t shy away from asking vice presidential candidate Spiro Agnew a tough, unrehearsed question.

Faith quickly became a favorite of celebrity guests as she traveled often to the Time Life Building in New York City. Lucille Ball, Harry Belafonte, Joan Rivers, Peter Graves and Paul Newman were among the interviews she managed to land. She played pool with the legendary Minnesota Fats. And, of course, she managed to have a sit down with two celebrities whose on-air stories hit close to home: Ed Asner and Mary Tyler Moore herself.

After eight years on the air, Faith left WISH8 in 1971. With her husband Dr. Eugene Levitt’s support, she reinvented herself as a Democratic candidate for Indiana state representative, a seat that she lost in 1974 and again in 1991.

Faith continued to reinvent herself and began to pursue what would soon become a successful real estate career. In her free time she also played competitive tennis and enjoyed sewing her own clothes.

After retirement, Faith continued to pursue her love for tennis, spending time with family and learning about the world. She discovered Road Scholar educational adventures and particularly loved learning about Shakespeare on Road Scholar programs in Ashland, Ore., at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Because of her love for learning and interest in meeting likeminded learners, Faith established a charitable gift annuity with Road Scholar, ensuring that the values she cherished can live on for future participants. Road Scholar is honored to include Faith as a member of the Road Scholar Legacy Society.

Carolyn Rundorff

Meet Road Scholar volunteer, donor and world explorer Carolyn Rundorff. Few people in this world can do it all — but Carolyn has certainly tried.

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A retired middle school librarian who volunteers for numerous local organizations, Carolyn’s life changed dramatically after her husband passed away in 2001. She had always loved learning and travel. When she heard about Road Scholar, she decided to embark on her first learning adventure to New York City.

“My first Road Scholar program was by myself, and my friends said, ‘You can’t go to New York City by yourself,’ and I said, ‘Well, watch me.’ I found that you’re very welcomed in Road Scholar programs if you’re traveling by yourself,” said Carolyn.

That first experience of solo travel and learning with Road Scholar changed Carolyn’s life. Since her initial learning adventure, she has attended 29 programs with Road Scholar — often traveling with friends she met on previous programs. She has explored Switzerland by rail, has searched for the “Big Five” on a safari program in Africa and has spent Christmas at the Grand Canyon.

But her love for Road Scholar hasn’t stopped there. Carolyn has bridged her enthusiasm for educational travel with a desire to give back to the organization. She volunteers as a Road Scholar ambassador, spends time as an assistant Group Leader and contributes to programs in her hometown of Portland, Ore.

Carolyn also wants to make sure that Road Scholar learning adventures are available for others to enjoy. Because of this, she contributes to the Annual Fund, and plans to leave a lasting legacy through a bequest to Road Scholar.

“I was helping out on a program in Portland and one lady on the program told me privately that she had received a scholarship to come on the Road Scholar adventure,” Carolyn said. “She was so excited to be there. She said to me, ‘You don’t know what a lift this has given me to be able to go for a whole week and enjoy something I never would have done before.’”

Moments like these inspire Carolyn to continue to give back to Road Scholar — a community that has provided new discoveries, places to explore and most importantly, new friendships.

“I have been enjoying traveling and talking to other travelers from all over the world,” says Carolyn. “My mother always said, ‘You volunteer, and it comes back around and does good things for you.’”

“My first Road Scholar program was by myself, and my friends said, ‘You can’t go to New York City by yourself,’ and I said, ‘Well, watch me.’ I found that you’re very welcomed in Road Scholar programs if you’re traveling by yourself,”
Carolyn Rundorff

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Ann Lamond

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