“So you know, the bottom line is OLLI is a fundamental part of our life, you know, when people ask us, ‘Well, what do you do with your time? I think the first thing that comes to mind is we're involved with OLLI. It's really a fundamental part of every week. Even when there's no semester, we're thinking about it, you know, it's really what we think about and what we do.” The Orts are longtime members of OLLI – nine years for Ed and six for Rita – who really exemplify the way to get the most out of our learning community.
Ed started his career as a physicist, working on the Mars Mariner missions, but then shifted his career to computer science and finally technical writing. Rita worked for IBM, and later in the wine industry, and on separate occasions was kissed on both cheeks by both Robert Mondavi and Salvador Dali.
When Ed retired, he was looking for something to do, and a friend of his asked, “why don’t you try OLLI?” He explained what it was and shared his catalog. Ed decided to take a few classes, and soon after decided to teach classes as well, and has been doing it ever since. One of his first classes was Jazz Appreciation with amazing live performances. “They were free jam sessions. These guys would come in, and they were great. One performer, Sid the Kid was possibly the greatest saxophone player I’ve heard in my life!”
He puts quite a lot of work into the classes he teaches – which have been on a wide variety of topics including dementia, sports, and mental health. Ed and Rita work together to teach sessions of the team-led class America’s Treasures. This collaboration brings a number of OLLI members together to each teach for a week on a topic of their choosing. Often, the co-instructors will gather for barbecues at each others’ homes to plan for the coming semester. From this, great friendships have formed. “That’s how we really became friends. We live in the same development, and have similar interests. We’ve gone out to lunch, and other members have joined us as well.”
OLLI is more than just the classes. Ed and Rita attended the OLLI tailgate party and season opener for UNLV Football this year. Rita said, “It was really a great experience having lunch provided and vuses to the stadium, and then also seeing the game. We like going to sporting events.” Ed added, “Matter of fact, oon our first date we went to a sports bar, and on our second date, went to a Rangers game. 49 days later, we were engaged.”