To Arthur Bauman, "champignon" is more than a lovely sounding fungus, it is the word that made him the Illinois State Senior Spelling Bee regional champion.
Held earlier this summer at Sedgebrook, a senior living community in Lincolnshire, the bee culminated several rounds of competition for Arthur and others who came to prove their spelling acumen.
"I was always a good test taker, which is good for being onstage at a spelling bee," said Arthur, who has lived at Sedgebrook for the past four years with his wife of 60 years, Laverne.
Indeed, the ability to test well is what has taken Arthur all over the world. Following high school at a prep school in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and college on a scholarship to Columbia University in New York, he finished basic training in the Army just at the time the Korean Armistice Agreement was called. Instead of battling with tank gunners, Arthur worked with IBM punch cards.
"I had a rather inglorious military career," remarked the humble 84-year-old.
After the Army, Arthur studied political science at the University of Michigan, where a recruiter from the U.S. Foreign Service issued him a test that he passed with flying colors. With those results, he immediately entered the Foreign Service, where he served in such places as Casablanca, Karachi in Pakistan, and Kabul in Afghanistan.
"I loved Casablanca, and Afghanistan was a beautiful, peaceful country when I was there."
After Arthur retired from the Foreign Service in 1982, he and Laverne went to Florida, where they lived for five years.
"We didn't like living in air conditioning all the time," said Arthur, so the couple moved to the small New England town of Gill, Massachusetts.
One thing Florida offered him, however, was a market for the handcrafted mobiles he began making during his down time in Jordan with the Foreign Service. A gallery in Sanibel sold some of Arthur's mobiles, which he also exhibited at a Florida college.
His craft permeated the Massachusetts art scene as well.
"There are still a lot of my mobiles out there. I made a lot of them," said Arthur, whose development of Parkinson's disease two years ago has impeded his handiwork.
After living in Gill, then on Cape Cod, Arthur and Laverne decided it was time to consider a senior retirement community.
"I loved it on Cape Cod; I didn't want to leave," Arthur said, "but we wanted to be somewhere where we could continue to really live life, not just fade away."
Enter Sedgebrook, which initially appealed to the Baumans because of its proximity to one of their three daughters.
These days, Sedgebrook is the "beautiful place" where Laverne is an avid bridge player and Arthur keeps a regular eye on activities at Sedgebrook. While Parkinson's has slowed him down (and prevented him from traveling to Springfield for the state bee finals), Arthur joins friends every week to sing and play recorders.
He also plays the harpsichord he built himself. The musicians have even given concerts at Sedgebrook.
A former high school football, basketball and baseball player and college crew rower, Arthur plays chair volleyball each week. He is also a voracious reader, who is currently reading David McCullough's "John Adams" and particularly enjoys the crime novels of Donna Leon. Perhaps he'll find his next bee winning word.
Sedgebrook is a continuing care retirement community offering a diverse lifestyle, maintenance-free living and outstanding amenities. Five-star rated Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation is located on the 92-acre Sedgebrook campus in Lincolnshire.
Sedgebrook is owned by Senior Care Development LLC and managed by Life Care Services LLC. For information, visit www.WelcomeToSedgebrook.com or call (847) 901-3319.
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