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Know Your Neighbors

08 Aug 2019
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When many people hear the words “science, engineering and technology,” their eyes fog over. Debra Vogler is working to change that. “I’m so frustrated with the lay people who don’t want information on science and technology,” Vogler says. “We have to do a better job of communicating about what those fields are doing and the impact it will have. I’m doing what I can within my own little sphere of influence.” Vogler, 66, has been a Palm Desert resident since 2012. Her husband, John, is the maintenance manager at The Living Desert. “We moved in on Thanksgiving Day,” she says with a laugh. “Believe it or not, we both love the heat. We would come here for vacations and really loved it. We always said that someday, when we were ready, we’d move here. Then the right opportunity presented itself, and we said, ‘This is the time.’” Vogler was born…
24 Jul 2019
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What is it about the desert that encourages many people who come here to retire to instead rediscover their passion? Joseph Gole (www.JosephGole.com), 72, is the cantor at Har-El Congregation, a Reform Jewish synagogue in Palm Desert. His career, in a way, began at age 9, when the teacher at his Hebrew school began to give him solos, and then at age 11 included Gole in Friday night services. “I was actually the catalyst for my family becoming more religious,” he says. “My mother wanted me to take math and science, but I knew I wanted to pursue music, because I knew that was where my strengths were. I did my first High Holidays service at 14, and while at Hebrew High school, when I was 15, my teacher brought me into another temple to do services. In high school, there was an arts direction you could take. At 16,…
10 Jul 2019
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How do you tell the story of someone who describes herself as a “diva/goddess”—especially when one of the first things she says is, “I can’t imagine anybody would be interested in my life,” in an apparent contradiction? Let’s start the story of Cardriner (Car-dree-ner) Bowden in 1963, three years after the famous sit-in at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., an attempt to integrate public spaces. Bowden was a freshman at a historically black college, North Carolina A&T State University, where Jesse Jackson was also a student. “One day I was told, ‘We’re going to integrate the theater today,’” she recalls. “I didn’t have anything to do that day, so I went. We stood at the back of the line, thinking if they started arresting people, we wouldn’t get arrested, and would have time to get out of there. They reversed the line, so we got arrested first. I…
26 Jun 2019
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According to Psychology Today, the common understanding about the brain—that the left side controls logical and analytical thinking, while the right is intuitive and creative—is a myth. Regardless, lifelong artist Judy Nemer Sklar has made ample use of both sides during her journey through life. Born and raised in St. Paul, Minn., Sklar remembers starting to draw when she was about 5 or 6 years old. “It was really cold in Minnesota, and everybody had one of those old furnaces,” she recalls. “My early memory is coming down the stairs with my papers and pencils, getting under the table with my feet on the furnace, and drawing the women from the fashion pictures I had seen in the newspapers. My parents saw my interest and sent me to an art school before I even got into regular school. They always encouraged me.” Sklar’s father had a chain of jewelry stores,…
12 Jun 2019
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“When I first went to the radiologist,” says Phil Drucker, “he told me, ‘Other than the cancer, you’re a really healthy guy.’ I’ve been a vegetarian, haven’t smoked since I was 22, and hardly ever drink. I kept thinking, ‘This just isn’t possible.’” Drucker, 60 and a La Quinta resident for the past eight years, was born and raised in the Los Angeles area. The eldest of three, his parents were children of immigrant parents. “My mom’s biggest impression on me was not what she said, but rather what she did,” says Drucker. “When I was in elementary school, there was a teacher’s strike. Most people backed the teachers, but my mom didn’t. She put on her miniskirt and go-go boots, and wrote a sign: ‘I pay my taxes. Why aren’t my kids in school?’ She taught me that when you think you’re right, all you need is an army…
29 May 2019
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Pat Kaplan, of Palm Desert, is determined to make a difference in the lives of Coachella Valley residents suffering from dementia—and the loved ones caring for them. The oldest of six girls, Kaplan, 71, remembers her father, an attorney, ran the household “like a courtroom. I think he was afraid of making wrong decisions, having six girls to raise. He did teach me that anything I wanted, I could have it, but I’d have to work for it. He’d say, ‘Nobody’s going to give it to you,’ “My mom was a physical therapist who always told me that regardless of what I did growing up, she knew I was a good person—that even if she might be disappointed in what I did, it was only ‘because I know you’re better than that.’ “My folks were both devout Catholics, and I went to Catholic schools all the way through my first…
15 May 2019
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Felina Danalis, 46 and now a Palm Springs resident, was making a difference on a global scale. After graduating magna cum laude in international relations from Georgetown University, she earned a graduate degree in international economics at Johns Hopkins’ Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, including a year studying in Italy and an internship with the Associated Press. She then walked straight into a job with the World Bank. “I was in the department that helped countries get development money,” she says. “I wanted to help make the world a better place. After all, I had been schooled in free-market solutions to everything, and I wanted to know more about the world. I traveled to places like Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Macedonia. It was fascinating, and the best training I could ever have had as a first job—if you don’t count folding sweaters at Benetton while attending…
01 May 2019
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She is creative, funny and a vibrant 87. He is laid back, nice to everybody, a supportive cheerleader and a cancer survivor still going strong at 91. They’ve been together for nearly 40 years and finish each other’s sentences. Phyllis and Wade Tucker met in 1976 when they worked across the hall from each other. He had his own insurance agency; she was a secretary for a management company. “Everyone in my office was Jewish; everyone in his wasn’t,” Phyllis says. “We used to call the distance in between the Gaza Strip.” Wade remembers not liking her much, because she would always come into his offices to run copies on his machine. “He told me I had to pay 10 cents a copy,” she laughs. They discovered they were both going through rough divorces—and the rest is history. Wade (“It’s really John Wade, but I always go by just Wade;…
17 Apr 2019
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Indio resident Tod Goldberg, 48, talks very fast—which makes sense, because he has a lot to say. The author of hundreds of books and articles, he is also the founder and director of the 10-year-old low-residency master’s program in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert campus. “I wanted to have an MFA program on the business of writing,” he says, “so our participants get published or get their works produced. I see my job as getting my students’ work sold, and we’ve been extraordinarily successful.” The program has had more than 300 students, with more than 75 percent of them being published or produced within two years of graduation from the program. Goldberg oversees a faculty of 16 and an online-mentor program, in addition to the intensive 10-day residency workshop, held annually at Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa…
03 Apr 2019
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Peripatetic is a word based on the way Greek philosopher Aristotle studied and learned: by walking about. Today, that word also describes an itinerant—one who travels about for duty and business. Dan Paris fits that description. Paris, 68 and a Rancho Mirage resident, was born and raised in Cleveland, in what he describes as “a Hungarian ghetto.” His father was a soccer-playing immigrant from Hungary who had worked in the salt mines as a child. His mother had been born in Cleveland, but Hungarian was the language spoken at home. “Knowing another language is an advantage,” says Paris. “It’s like another culture given to you. … I was very inquisitive as a kid, and I always had to excel. … I’d get interested in something and stick with it for a while. I was always looking to do things that made a difference to me and that helped others, either…

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