Previous Recipients

The Gold Standard Award for Optimal Aging celebrates and honors adults aged 85 and older who embody the Trager Institute’s vision for a world where all older adults lead engaged and flourishing lives. These individuals are recognized by their community as outstanding models of optimal aging in the following areas: physical, social, spiritual, and creative. Winners are separated into individual and couples categories.

Previous Recipients: 2014   2016  2017  2018  2019 2020 2021

Recipients: 2020


It says a lot about a person when they want to volunteer and help at a place that's near and dear to their heart and very close to their home. That special person is Bettye Albritton. She lives a short distance from the University of Louisville Health Medical Center Southwest (which was formerly operated by Kentucky One Health Southwest). Twice a week, Ms. Albritton volunteers as an information desk greeter and out-patient surgery clerk at this hospital. She has been doing this for over 7 years in partnership with the Louisville Metro Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). She enjoys it for a variety of reasons. First, she wants to help people and cares about their wellbeing. Next, she enjoys being with other older persons as they come together as volunteers but also to socialize and catch up. Many of her fellow volunteers say she is full of energy and fun even at the age of 88 and seems to not be slowing down at all. She is committed to her neighborhood area in the Southwest portion of Louisville and helping others so that they are healthy, comfortable, and happy too.


One of the most inspirational volunteers I have gotten to know in the last four years is Ms. Pearline Allen. Ms. Allen has been volunteering with the Louisville Metro Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) for nearly 25 years. Most of this volunteering has been with the Schuhmann Social Service Center. She comes twice a week for a few hours at a time to be a Center Aide and Clothes Closet Aide. She helps homeless men in the downtown area find appropriate clothing and garments so that they can find comfort during the different seasons. She is very kind and patient to each of them and always seems to go the extra mile to find something that will suit their needs. At the age of 94 years, she is truly an inspiration to so many and the perfect role model to look up to in our community.


One would think after years of working and being involved in sales and other business, they would want a break from that work. However, Ms. Mary Emogene Alvey, says she still enjoys and looks forward to coming one or two times a week to the University of Louisville Health Medical Center Southwest (formerly Kentucky One Health Southwest) to work in their gift shop. She has been doing this for nearly a dozen years in partnership with Louisville Metro Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). She often says this is not a job but a way of bringing comfort, joy, happiness, and compassion to those who are wanting to get a gift or card for someone who is sick, going through major surgery, having a new baby, or whatever else it may be. The Gift Shop at the Hospital is a special place and can provide that extra special feeling to someone in need. Ms. Alvey says she enjoys doing this and even at the age of 86, she plans to keep doing this. So next time you go to this or other hospital gift shops, one will understand why people like Ms. Alvey does what she does.


I have only gotten to know Roy Barnes in the last year or two with the Louisville Metro Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), but at the age of 93 it's hard not to admire someone who wants to give back and volunteer in our community. Roy Barnes knows that there is food scarcity in our community and many older persons do not get adequate food each day and even have someone visit or check on them. Roy Barnes has taken upon himself to be Mobile Meal Driver (Meals on Wheels volunteer) for the Lourdes Hall Senior Nutrition Center. He does this a couple of times a week and enjoys bringing a healthy and good meal to homebound seniors and do a bit of dialogue with them too. Often these individuals do not interact with anyone else, so Mr. Barnes's presence is essential in their overall wellbeing. Roy Barnes is truly a remarkable man and one who continues to give back and show compassion in his 90s.


If you have never seen the Silvernotes group perform, then you are missing out on an amazing musical talented group. One of these 30+ gifted performers is Rosella Battacher. At the age of 91, she is able to sing happy tunes and catchy songs to Nursing Home residents, School kids, and various other venues including annually at the Kentucky State Fair. She has been doing this for 12 years and something that she loves to do. Her voice is her gift to others and brings her together with other seniors weekly for socialization. Rosella Battacher is active with her family and many other organizations especially her church. She is determined to remain this way as long as she can. She is truly a remarkable woman!


In this era, we live in, having someone call and check on you daily or weekly is essential especially if you are living alone and have no other socialization, is so important. Anna Beasley does just that. She volunteers with ElderServe-Telecare Program through the Louisville Metro Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) by taking an hour or two of her day at least once or twice a week. She is that friendly voice to a widow or widower making sure he/she is doing OK and reminding them of appointments to doctors or other things. Her caring attitude and resilient compassion go a long way. She has been doing this for nearly 10 years and plans to continue to do it in the future. When time allows, she attends the monthly TRIAD gatherings at the MUSCL Wellness Center to hear about important issues and matters and can socialize with other seniors and engage in a wide range of activities. She is truly a vibrant woman with a warm heart and gentle demeanor. At the age of 86, she is a fine example of how to live your life.


During my college days at the University of Kentucky, one of the most admired educators, I got to know and have in English class was no other than Wendell Berry. He was an amazing novelist, poet, and essayist at that time. But as I got to know him and respect his work and community engagement, I witness him as an environmental activist, cultural critic, and farmer. Even at the age of 85, he remains active and inspiration to so many. And he has amazing accomplishments. These include being elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, a recipient of The National Humanities Medal, and the Jefferson Lecturer for 2012. He is also a 2013 Fellow of The American Academy of Arts and Science. Berry was named the recipient of the 2013 Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award. On January 28, 2015, he became the first living writer to be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame. To date (2020), he has written up to 37 books, 32 essays, and 39 other literary works. I cannot think of a better nominee than Wendell Berry for the Gold Standard Award & Recognition.


I have known Tom Briggs for nearly three years as a joint Radio Eye volunteer and as the RSVP Program Coordinator. He comes each week to Radio Eye to read magazines, books, and newspapers to those who are visually impaired or blind. He also often brings donuts or cookies for the staff and volunteers to enjoy each week. But his biggest commitment and continued engagement have been with Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS). Tom has been inspirational with VIPS for nearly 35 years as a former Board Member and longtime supporter, especially with the VIPS Corporate Cup Golf Tournament. He has a wide range of friends and close contacts and is willing to help and give back whenever he can. In October 2019, Tom Briggs received the VIPS Ambassador Awards at the Beacon Awards dinner. It was an award well deserved for his ongoing commitment and compassion to others.


His daughter, Brigette Brouillard, is the Director and Master Environment Educator with Second Chances Wildlife Center where her dad helps and volunteers at periodically. At this volunteer site in the Mt. Washington area, Arnold Brouillard builds cages, furniture landscapes, and transports rescued animals back and forth to the Vet. He is very passionate about making sure wildlife is able to have an excellent quality of life and is determined to do whatever he can to make this happen. On a side note, her 88-year-old father still works part-time at Home Depot. He still loves working with tools and being involved in a hardware store environment. It's a joy in life he wants to continue to do as long as he can.


When your 90 years old, you are entitled to do whatever you like? Well Charles Brown remains active in practicing at least once or twice a week with the musical senior group called SilverNotes. And few times during the month, he sings and performs with them for various concerts at schools, community centers or senior housing complexes/nursing homes. He has been doing this for over 16 years and loves getting out with 20 - 30 other seniors sharing his voice and bring musical delight to others. Its hard not to admire someone who is willing to bring joy and fun to others through one's artistic talent. Charles Brown is also active with his church and neighborhood organization and groups in the Highlands. He is a perfect example of someone who lives his life to the fullest.


In one of the most social-economical challenged areas in West Louisville, you will find an 85 year old lady who comes to ElderServe Oak & Acorn Center as a Senior Nutrition volunteer. Her name is Mary Louise Brown. She often packages numerous meals as they are given out to Meals on Wheels Drivers and others whom come to this Senior Center for a lunch time meal and other nourishment. She is committed to not only doing this each and every week for the last 9 years but when times allow, she will even socialize with the other seniors and help with the daily Noon time Bingo game that takes place. She is dedicated and compassionate woman who is a key piece to positive community outreach that is going on in West Louisville. Thank you Mary Brown.


Mary Margaret Caster is one of those individuals whom may have a quiet and calm deposition, but she is alive and well. At the age of 86 years, she remains active in many different ways. One of her most defined ways of active socialization is her coming to St. Joseph's Children Home once or twice a week to join 50 other ladies as apart of the Sewing Society. She has been doing this for 20 years and in association with the Louisville Metro Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). She come every Monday and Wednesday for few hours to sew together to make handmade quilts, comforters and baby blankets. And this year with the epidemic of the Coronavirus (COVID 19), she and the other Sewing Society members are now making handmade masks for various St. Joes staff so that they can be healthy and able to do the essential care for residential children as well as those in the Child Development Center (CDC). And once this is done, they will make more masks for those whom help in the healthcare industry (doctors, nurses, aides and more). Her warm compassion for others has reached another level and she is a true role model for so many others in our community of giving back but insuring great healthy spirit too.


There is always something special about someone who is willing to help out his fellow Veterans in a whole other way. George Clark whom is at the age of 86 and a Veteran from the Air Force is exactly that type of person. He has been volunteering on a weekly basis at the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Hospital for a long time and been an active Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteer for 2 years. His role at this VA Hospital is in the Escort Services Department. This means once or twice a week, he comes to help transport patients to and from various rooms, the cafeteria/canteen/snack shop, front entrance or drop-off/pick up areas and any other on site location. Another key thing George Clark does is provide socialization and companionship to fellow Veterans. Checking on their well being and sharing past wartime stories makes for a special and memorable time. George Clark is a true American hero in many ways. We thank him for his continued service to others.


I have just gotten to know Marie Clay in the last couple years as I see her every month at TRIAD and occasionally at various AARP events. While she is not a volunteer member with the Louisville Metro RSVP Program, I have witnessed her active spirit and engagement with others. She is a Retired Register Nurse with over 42 year of Health Services experience. She is active with St. Stephen Church, Legacy Choir, Sunday School classes, National Council of Negro Women and at least half dozen other groups. She has received a tremendous amount of special awards and recognition by both Mayor Jerry Abramson and Greg Fischer along with Senator Gerald Neal and Representative Reginald Meeks. She does not let age or even where she resides in the California neighborhood discourage her in being active and helping others. She is a remarkable and active woman at the age of 86!


Father James "Jim" Flynn turned 90 years of age in February of 2020. He continues to be active and heavily involved today and shows no sign of slowing down. Father Flynn served as pastoral associate with the Archdiocese of Louisville as pastoral associate at Our Lady of Lourdes in the 1960s. In 1971, he helped establish Epiphany Parish and later served as pastor of St. William and St. Martin de Porres parishes from 1982 through 1999. For the past 10 years, he has been serving the Latino communities in and around Louisville. Various times during the week, you can even see Father Jim Flynn at street corner in Louisville holding up a sign or banner that says "Immigrants and Refugees Welcome Here". He continues to remain active and give back to his community in a wide range of ways. Personally he has inspired me always. He and I use to run or jog together in charitable races in the past. But one of the most memorable things is that he was the priest who married my Dad (Keith Clements) and my stepmother (Peggy Hyland) over 35 years ago. He is truly inspiration to me and someone I have the highest respect and regard for.


Rev. Robert Gray is a senior adult whom I have long admired. He is a quiet, gentle, humble and compassionate person who has had a great influence on many people throughout his 60+ years as a Catholic priest. The primary areas of his giftedness are in the spiritual and social/service categories. Rev. Gray grew up in Louisville, KY and Hollendale, Fl, where his father was a horse trainer. He was ordained for the Diocese of Louisville after completing his studies at St. Meinrad Theological Seminary and was appointed to teach science and history at St. Thomas Seminary in Louisville. After 15 years of teaching he served in many parishes throughout the Archdiocese. Although priests are allowed to ‘retire’ from their positions as pastors – or heads- of congregations, many continue to serve the Archdiocese in ways they enjoy and where they are most needed. For his entire life, Fr. Gray has been a quiet ‘people-loving’ and serving person. Consistently, one of the first things those who have met him say when asked about him is “He always remembered my name, even if he had met me just once. And he remembered it years later!” It takes caring – as well as a good memory – to remember names of people you have me throughout a long, service-dedicated lifetime.


While Mattie Jones is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, she moved to Louisville at early age and has lived here since in her 87 years of lie. Those whom are Louisville citizens and residents have probably heard who Mattie Jones is. She has worked for more than six decades as formidable advocate for equity and social justice. She has organized countless demonstrations and boycotts focused on anti-racism, women's and worker's rights, environmental justice, peace and police brutality. In 1973, she was a founding member of the National Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression and has helped lead numerous local and national justice operations. In the 1960s, she marched against segregation in public schools and for open housing. She worked on a local level with the Kentucky Alliance against Racist and Political Repression, alongside the late Rev. Louis Coleman, Anne Braden, and countless others. On another note, she was not only a committed activist, but a committed wife and mother. She and her husband, Turner Harris Jones, had nine children and raised 120 foster children. Even today in her mid to late 80s, she continues be active and she says another solider in the army for peace, justice and equality.


Every organization has a special person that stands out and is a shining star. At University of Louisville Health Medical Southwest, that person is Ms. Helen McMillen. For nearly 15 years, Ms. McMillen has volunteered as an out-patient surgery clerk along with information desk greeter at this hospital facility in the southwest portion of Jefferson County. She has that cheerful smile, charismatic deposition and helpful stride in her to assist anyone whom comes and visits this hospital. She does this at least twice a week and hopes to continue to do so for years to come. Besides volunteering with UofL Health Medical Center Southwest, she has participated in the Louisville Metro Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) and remains active with her church and neighborhood. She knows life is precious gift and tries her best to enjoy every minute of it as long as she can.


Most people who are active and volunteer do not focus on just one thing but take on a wide range of activities. Ms. June McNally is one of those persons. Even at the age of 86, she is active in variety of things especially as a member of Louisville Metro Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). For the last 10 years, she has helped both the American Red Cross and Uspiritus/Centerstone (Brooklawn). With Uspiritus/Centerstone she helps in two different ways. The first is she serves on monthly auxiliary council giving guidance and ideas to help this non-profit organization. Next, she takes part in the organization's special events and fundraising activities. For the American Red Cross, she helps in the Canteen and goes out supports with Blood Drives and other services centered in and around this. She does even more than being an active volunteer, she enjoys her family, her church and wide range of friends. She is remarkable individual in every way and does not let her older age stop her.


A talented singer and performer is Julie Metzler. She is one of about two dozen members of the Silver Notes, a musical group of older persons who go around the community and sing songs at Nursing Homes, Retirement Centers, Assisted Living Facilities and various school and civic organizations. She has been doing this for 16 1/2 years and in partnership with the Louisville Metro Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). She remains active doing this a couple times a week bringing joy and delight to others while socializing with others. She is also an avid TARC Bus rider and appreciates mass transportation and carpooling when she can. She use to work with the Louisville Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau and even today loves to travel and see new sites and attractions. She enjoys life to the fullest and plans to keep at it in every way she can.


When one has been through as much as Nyirakaman Mukashyaka, its hard to not to admire and respect her. She came to the United States as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to restart her life over again. She had no or very few belongings and with her Grandson, Damascene, she was coming to an industrialize and technological advanced country like USA. She was from an agricultural and rural community with little to no education as well as English. However, she has found a way to adapt and adjust. In doing this she goes twice a week to the Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) to their English as Second Language (ESL) and Citizenship Classes. She does this to improve her English, to socialize with other older refugees whom are seeking the same thing, and hopefully become a future US Citizen. It's hard to not admire 88 year old DRC refugee senior whom is doing everything she can to be the best she can be.


Dr. Elayne Roose has been a friend since 1976 – she was the person who invited me to Louisville when I was living in Boston, MA, and investigating new career opportunities in gerontology. Because of Elayne, I am enjoying a wonderful new life here in Kentucky! Despite some health problems, Elayne practices yoga daily, meditates 2x per day, reads constantly, stays current with theological concepts and thought, and current events. She has hosts of friends and over the years she has welcomed many, many people into her home for various reasons and durations. I have nominated her for spiritual creativity and social concerns!


Ms. Evelyn Siemens was an active member of a book club I started in 2009. We met monthly at Sacred Heart Home (now Nazareth Home – Clifton). I was always inspired by her unique, global, inclusive, progressive perspective about everything from religion and politics to personal relationships. I consider her a “wisdom person” and a friend.Evelyn was brought up in Louisville, KY and still lives in the home in which she lived as a youngster. She always had an adventurous streak and always wanted to travel, so after her schooling she joined the US State Department as part of the Foreign Service. She was encouraged to pursue her career by her father, but not her mother, who never quite forgave her for leaving home for the far reaches of the world! She worked for the Foreign Service as a recruiting officer and staff personnel for more than 20 years and retired at age 50. At age 92 she has some physical difficulties and no longer drives. In this time of Covid, her social, civic, and church-related activities are limited. However, she has many, many friends who see that she enjoys friendship via telephone calls, groceries, and anything else she needs. She considers herself “totally blessed.” When I asked what she dares to do as she ages, she replied, “As I age I dare to do nothing!” To which I add, “For the first time in her life!”


For the last 10 years, Pupsa Lal Subedi has lived in Louisville, Kentucky. But prior to that he was native to Bhutan till he was forced to flee persecution and became a refugee and fled to Nepal. He lived in Nepal for 20+ years in a refugee camp. During that time, he had no real home and lived with thousands of other Bhutanese refugees waiting for the chance to be approved and go to another country. During those two decades he farmed on small plot of land and raised his family. He never gave up home and used his Hindu faith to guide him. Finally, in 2010, the opportunity came for him and his family to resettled by UNHCR (United Nations Higher Commission of Refugees) to Louisville, Kentucky. He was already in his mid-70s and his son, Hari, and his grandson, Mitra, had become the caretaker and key leaders for the family. But Pupsa was one that was well respected in the community and could tell stories and share history of the past. He was like patriarch to his family and the Bhutanese community of Kentucky. Even today, at the age of 85, his highly regarded and very deep in practicing his Hindu faith each day. He is currently the third oldest Nepalese-Bhutanese refugee living in Louisville, KY of a community that is nearly 10,000 persons.


For the last 10 years, Chandra Wakley has lived in Louisville, Kentucky. But prior to that he was native to Bhutan till he was forced to flee persecution and became a refugee and fled to Nepal. He lived in Nepal for 20+ years in a refugee camp. During that time, he had no real home and lived with thousands of other Bhutanese refugees waiting for the chance to be approved and go to another country. During those two decades he farmed on small plot of land and raised his family. Sadly, his wife died early in her 60s and as a widow, it became his responsibility to support his family. He never gave up home and used his Hindu faith to guide him. Finally, in 2010, the opportunity came for him and his family to resettled by UNHCR (United Nations Higher Commission of Refugees) to Louisville, Kentucky. He was already in his mid to late 70s and his own son, Bal, had become the caretaker and key leader for the family. But Chandra was one that was well respected in the community and could tell stories and share history of the past. He was like patriarch to his family and the Bhutanese community of Kentucky. Even today, at the age of 87, his highly regarded and very deep in practicing his Hindu faith each day. He is currently the oldest Nepalese-Bhutanese refugee living in Louisville, KY. He is also fighting colon cancer but remains an important figure to his family and community.


Mary Rose Wright, age 91, was born in Prospect on a dairy farm in 1929. At an early age she learned to work hard and be disciplined when tending to the cows before and after school. Mary's family was a founding member of St Margaret Mary's church. She still safely drives herself to mass each week. For over 50 years, she has worked (and is still working) in the lunchroom for the church's school. She enjoys serving the children and has an incredible memory knowing the names of more than three generations of families who attended the school. She loves her independence but also enjoys her friends and her family (3 children, 3 grandchildren, and 4 siblings). Mary is an energetic person who defies her age. Even open heart surgery at age 89 did not slow her down; she recovered in record time and is back to all her normal activities being with family, working in the lunch room, church, bowling, and gardening.

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