Tag Archives: Omaha

Quail Hollow

December 28, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Located not far from Lake Zorinsky, Quail Hollow has streets lined with tidy homes occupied by retirees and young families. Quail Hollow residents not only know their neighbors, they also like to spend time with them. Neighborhood picnics, potlucks, parades, and block parties are par for the course for this neighborhood that is frequently described as “safe” and “friendly” by residents.

They are not simply speaking of human residents. Quail Hollow abuts two-to-three acres of a wetlands preserve, which is popular with many residents. The protected wetlands draw many varieties of birds, including eagles, owls, hawks, ducks, and cardinals. The natural setting also provides habitat for raccoons, squirrels, and other animals. Quail Hollow residents were so fond of this natural feature that they enthusiastically added retaining walls, bridges, and walking trails when the neighborhood was still a sanitary improvement district.

“It’s a great place to live,” says LaVerne Benck, current homeowner association president and longtime resident. “It’s quiet.” Benck moved to Quail Hollow around 15 years ago, three years after the subdivision opened. “We lived in Stonybrook for 31 years, but we wanted a ranch-style home. Quail Hollow was around 40 percent full when we moved in.” The subdivision currently consists of 222 homes. There are a total of 229 lots.

Benck and the other HOA board members are responsible for ensuring everything goes according to the neighborhood covenants. “We work together and keep the neighborhood in shape,” he says. For the residents, this means not having above-ground pools, sheds, or junk cars sitting in driveways, and using only approved colors for roofs and fences. Perhaps most noticeable when driving through the neighborhood is the no-trash-cans-in-front rule that Benck and his fellow board members promote and enforce.

“We can’t let people slide,” he says, explaining that anyone violating the covenants receives a letter. “It’s up to the board to enforce the covenants.”

If a resident wants to challenge one of the covenants, they must compel 75 percent of the Quail Hollow homeowners to side with them, otherwise the HOA can take legal action. That hardly ever happens, though, according to Benck, who says most homeowners have no trouble following the rules. The HOA isn’t lenient because, as Benck explains, allowing one person to break a covenant is like “opening Pandora’s box.”

So what happens when a passionately led HOA is coupled with a geographically attractive neighborhood? Resident Victoria Boldt says, “I would say Quail Hollow is special because neighbors really look out for each other and we have a strong sense of community. It’s an excellent place to raise a family.” 

Quail Hollow resident Mike Reed agrees. “It’s a pretty quiet and safe neighborhood.” Residents are considerate, Reed adds. “We love living in Quail Hollow because neighbors watch out for each other. During the winter, neighbors help each other clear their driveways.”

“Over the years we’ve lived here, the summer picnic and the Neighborhood Night Out have been the highlights for me,” Reed says. Benck adds that last year’s Night Out included clowns, face painters, and hot dogs, and that people of all ages had a great time.

A group of resident volunteers man the Citizen’s Patrol Group, who “patrol to make sure everything’s peaceful and quiet,” Benck says, adding, “No reports of crime out here.” Reed agrees, “I watch posts on the NextDoor website and see a lot of negative stuff [car break-ins, intruders, etc.] happening in other neighborhoods, but I hardly ever hear anything bad happening in Quail Hollow.”

It’s a tight-knit community, which is by design. Benck explains that the many community activities within the neighborhood are designed to “draw people together to meet their neighbors. We have a good mixture of young and old here. Everyone participates as a neighborhood—anything to bring the neighbors out.”

Quail Hollow was annexed into the City of Omaha in September 2018. Benck says the annexation happened “without protest” since most homeowners were eager to enjoy the drop in property taxes the annexation would bring. He also says being an official part of Omaha allows Quail Hollow to qualify for funding for their citizen’s patrol. Before the city took control of the neighborhood, the HOA oversaw a number of beautification projects including adding a walkway to the wetlands area located within the boundaries of the neighborhood.

In the warmer months, residents can be found walking their dogs along the many walkways in Quail Hollow. “During the summer, as I’m walking my dogs through the neighborhood, I see families out talking to each other and their kids playing together,” Reed says. When the weather turns chilly, everyone in the neighborhood gears up for the holiday lighting contest sponsored by the HOA. The top three winners receive gift cards, but as Benck explains, the competition stays friendly. “They have a good time doing it,” he says. The HOA also pays a service to decorate the front entrance during the holidays.

When asked what he tells people who ask about his neighborhood, Benck simply says, “You’re missing out.” Quail Hollow continues to impress as a friendly, safe place to live in any stage of life—just be sure to keep those garbage bins out of sight.

Visit myquailhollow.com for more information.

Omaha Land Bank

Photography by Midland Pictures & Omaha Land Bank

Cities around the United States experience problems with blighted neighborhoods, in which certain houses and lots go from assets to deficits. Such sites often become magnets for vandals and vagrants.

Locally, some of these problems found an answer with the creation of the Omaha Municipal Land Bank in 2014. The nonprofit is funded in part by donations.

“The Land Bank was created for the City of Omaha by the Nebraska Legislature to be a catalyst for community development,” says OMLB Executive Director Marty Barnhart. “Our role is to address these distressed properties. Folks can donate properties to the Land Bank they no longer want to care for, or are no longer able to take care of.”

OMLB matches properties with buyers who demonstrate the vision and means to redevelop sites. Buyers get nine months to renovate a home, or two years to build on a vacant lot. The hope is that revitalization encourages neighbors to improve their own places. 

The first step is to acquire the properties, and that project takes time and money, especially when it comes to clearing a title on properties whose owners can’t be reached. As a subdivision of local government, OMLB has the power to cancel taxes and municipal liens levied against properties. It can bypass red tape to make purchasing and redevelopment go much quicker. It can also sell properties at lower prices, thus reducing the burden on purchasers to establish equity, borrow money, or make improvements.

“If you think about the city and the county, they could do the kind of things we do, but it would take ordinances, public meetings, and a lot of things to put through their boards,” Barnhart says. “It would take a whole lot longer than the Land Bank with our statuary authority.”

OMLB began selling property in early 2017. The available inventory is listed on its website. The 50-plus properties sold through last October went to “a variety of different individuals and partners,” Barnhart says. “We’ve seen single-family houses transformed and reoccupied.”

He acknowledges the sample size is too small yet to show ripple effects in neighborhoods. But there’s no doubt a long-abandoned house at 2002 Country Club Ave. that was an unsafe eyesore got saved from the rubble heap, redone, and reoccupied.

2002 Country Club Ave. (before)

“It was one of the first big success stories of the Land Bank,” says Omaha City Councilman Pete Festersen, who serves District 1 where the house is located. “That had been a problem for that street for 20 years. We couldn’t find the owner. It was condemned. There were holes in the roof. Animals were in there. It never quite made the list, though, to be demolished. Eventually we did get it onto the list, not wanting to demolish it if we didn’t have to because it was otherwise a very nice property. But it was headed towards demolition until the Land Bank stepped in and finally got a response from the property owner, who was very grateful to sell.

“The Land Bank listed it for a fair, reasonable price and a young couple was able to buy it and rehab it. It’s in great shape today.”

Other transformations are in progress.

An OMLB presentation at their church convinced Carol Windrum and Tim Fickenscher to take on a single-family house redevelopment at 3155 Meredith Ave. Motivated to reverse blight, they used the Land Bank as a social entrepreneurship tool. They purchased the century-old property in January 2018 for $12,500. OMLB shepherded them through the makeover process—the couple’s first time renovating. That included helping find a contractor, who, at the couple’s behest, used as many recycled and reclaimed materials as possible.

3155 Meredith Ave.

The house listed for $77,500 last fall, and Family Housing Advisory Services and mortgage lender Omaha 100 are helping identify prospective low-income candidates to get it sold.

In the Park Avenue area, Brenda and Kurt Robinson seized a chance to prevent another “hole” in the neighborhood when, courtesy of OMLB, they rescued a two-story, 130-year-old house at 2911 Woolworth Ave. for $25,000.

If not for their action, this house might have faced the same fate as others torn down in the area.

“It’s a great structure—super sound. There’s very little we had to do except extra bracing here and there. It’s got a lot of cool exterior features—corbels and fascia we’re working hard to keep. Previous owners maintained all the original woodwork, including cased openings. They were pretty sensitive to the original architecture—thank goodness,” says Brenda, who likes having OMLB as a partner.

2911 Woolworth Ave.

“The Land Bank has a mission I can get behind, keeping sturdy old houses alive as really cool places of history as well as homes for the future,” she says.

For greater impact, OMLB targets areas by assembling multiple properties and lots for development. That’s what the organization is doing in the area around 40th and Hamilton streets.

This once-picturesque neighborhood struggled with crime, litter, debris, high turnover, and ill-kept rentals. Since a slumlord relinquished problem properties there and new businesses went in, things have stabilized, says Walnut Hill Neighborhood Association President Murray Hayes. But vacant lots are still an issue.

Walnut Hill is also a focal point due to the Walnut Hill Reservoir, a 16-acre parcel owned by Metropolitan Utilities District. The Land Bank is asking MUD to donate the inactive site for redevelopment. MUD’s weighing what to do.

Omaha City Councilman Ben Gray (District 2), who serves on the Land Bank’s board, says OMLB is ideally suited to be a player in the reservoir’s remaking because the nonprofit’s rules prevent a developer from letting it sit idle.

Barnhart feels OMLB could give a developer a deal that doesn’t require tax increment financing. By assembling and holding properties for developers with the right plans, he says, OMLB protects against speculators.

Gray adds that OMLB is well-poised to address Omaha’s affordable housing shortage in areas of need like this.

“We know we can get nonprofits to do affordable housing, but we’re trying to assemble enough property to entice private developers,” he says. “We’re working on creating solutions to help meet the financing burden developers might face trying to do affordable housing. If we leave it with nonprofits, we’re only going to get so many houses. If we can include the private development community, it increases our ability to get that done at scale.”

Festersen says a proposed city ordinance would create a new relationship whereby the city law department will foreclose on those liens. That will allow the Land Bank to get it back into productive reuse, and on the tax rolls, by purchasing the property. That, and the measures the Land Bank have already taken, are the reasons Gray says, “I think you’re going to see some major developments through the Land Bank in the next two to three years.”

Visit omahalandbank.org for more information.

This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

2911 Woolworth Ave.

Happy January Home Hacks

Start the year fresh with these quick, helpful cleaning hacks.

Hacks in general exploded in popularity when websites such as BuzzFeed and Pinterest started pitching them at us. This made finding housekeeping hacks incredibly easy, even for us not-so-savvy web users.

The following hacks can reduce the number of cleaning products in your home by using products you already have.


These citrus fruits are one of the most useful and beneficial items to keep around. The acid in lemons is antibacterial and antiseptic, as well as a natural bleach.


De-stink your garbage disposal with lemon rinds. Run a few through and follow with cold water to dispel odors.

Clean your microwave with one lemon. You will need a microwave-safe bowl. Fill with four cups of water. Cut your lemon in half. Microwave on high for three minutes and let it set for another five minutes. Remove bowl and turntable. Wipe surface with clean towel.

Remove stubborn water stains from chrome kitchen and bathroom fixtures (it even works on copper). Cut a lemon in half and scrub the surface with the halves. This will also remove any rust stains left from bobby pins or razor blades.


Though not registered as a disinfectant with the EPA, this powerful liquid will kill both salmonella and E. coli, two bacteria you definitely want to avoid.


Unclog your drain. Pour half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down the drain. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse with hot water.

Remove mineral spots from a showerhead. Fill a plastic bag halfway with vinegar and tie around the showerhead. Let the bag sit overnight and rinse in the morning.

Shutter and blinds need cleaning? Get out a soft sock and slip it onto your hand. Make an even mixture of water and vinegar. Spray this onto the sock and get into every nook and cranny that collects dust. We all have a mismatched sock or two we can use for this.

Baking soda:

This does more than fight refrigerator odors. It’s non-toxic and, unlike vinegar, does not have a strong smell. Because of its abrasiveness, it can fight tough stains as well.


Remove tough burned-on food from pots and pans. Sprinkle on burned areas and add just enough hot water to cover. Let it sit overnight, and scrub it off in the morning.

Polish silver flatware. Make a paste with 3-parts baking soda and 1-part water. Rub onto silver with clean cloth and rinse.

Deodorize rugs and upholstered furniture. Sprinkle on the rug and furniture, let sit for 15 minutes, and vacuum.

Below are a few quirky tips that I had not heard of and will try soon.


Got fresh flowers without a green thumb? Keep them around longer by placing crushed aspirin into the water. The salicylic acid in the aspirin will help keep the water clean and free of the flower-damaging bacteria.


Want a clever way to keep your fingernails clean when doing a dirty job? Pack soap under them by rubbing them across a bar a few times. When the dirty work is done, simply scrub it out with a nail brush.

Rubber gloves:

While we love our furry, four-legged family members, we could all do without the fur they leave behind. Pick up some rubber gloves at the dollar store and sweep the worst areas with the glove. Hair will ball and pick up easy.

Plywood and bricks:

Lastly, living in Nebraska, protecting your air conditioner is important. Cover it with plywood weighted down with bricks to protect the compressor in the winter. This also encourages rodents to move on. And if you want to protect the metal and keep it looking good, coat it with car wax before the snow flies.

At the end of the day, a hack should offer a clever and unique way to repurpose an object or solve a problem. It should also be realistic—for those of us lacking an engineering degree or carpentry apprenticeship—to implement. And most importantly, it should help your home look great without requiring a lot of extra work. So go forth and spruce!

This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

baking soda vinegar and lemon on the white background

At Home with Joy Bartling at Scatter Joy Acres

To the very north of Sorenson Parkway, still in city limits but almost completely hidden in a tangle of back roads, sits 26 acres of heaven—or at least, as close as Joy Bartling will come in her lifetime.

Scatter Joy Acres, located at 4966 Newport Ave., is a lot of things: a petting zoo, an animal-assisted therapy office, a field trip destination, a birthday party venue, a woman’s ministry come to life—and a home to anyone who can make it through the dirt roads.

“Our slogan is ‘a place of rescue, a journey to peace,’” Bartling says. “And besides hearing the occasional fire engine, the peace of living in nature is very prominent.”   

Along with an array of colorful hand-painted signs that say things like ‘let’s go on an adventure,’ and ‘adopted is my favorite breed,’ a sniff on the palm and a wag of the fluffy, albeit dusty, tail is how you know you’ve arrived.

“I’ve opened my home to so many people,” Bartling says. “I always say all of this isn’t mine; it’s God’s. Giving someone the opportunity to get a foot underneath them changes my life and theirs.”

Bartling rattles off the people she has helped through her organization as slow sips of morning coffee spark her memory: the drug-addicted woman who tended to a garden every day, the homeless couple who now has a baby, and the young girl whose dying wish was to ride a horse.

While her kitchen is sprinkled with tangible objects like tortoise feed, a collection of coffee mugs with corny sayings, and a large Husky chewing a pillow, the underlying interior design is in the creatures who have dwelled here—those who have tended to the flowers, petted the puppies, and shed their shortcomings. It is the lingering soul of its mission that gives Scatter Joy Acres the look and feel of a true home.

Moving further into the ranch, more animals come into the foreground. Although there are a few main attractions (such as the camels Zebediah and Nyles, Shaka Oscar the ostrich, and Willis the wallaby), all the animals represent the mission of Scatter Joy Acres: unconditional love.

Bartling knows a thing or two about the healing powers of her animal kin. Growing up on a dairy farm, she was the oldest of her siblings and felt most of her affection from animals.

“Animals are non-judgemental,” Bartling says. “If a dog has an accident on the floor, the minute after he’s scolded or after he gets out of timeout, he comes right back and loves you. Even when we have our hurts and pains, we deserve love, and animals are very smart in picking people who are like them—or people who need them.” 

An archway of trees embellishes the main walkway as goats, alpacas, peacocks, and one lone turkey relax in their respective pastures. The animals munching on their breakfasts sounds reminiscent of feet on crunchy fall leaves. Other animal friends live in temperature-controlled barns: horses, chickens, pot-belly pigs, rabbits, tortoises, and more.

Reaching a hand into the personal bubbles of these animals will lead to two responses: one, a hope for more food, and two, the quick realization that it’s selfie time. They are keen on human interaction. In fact, Zebediah was a groomsman in a “hump day” wedding in fall 2017. He even wore a bow tie.

“My children are grown now,” Bartling says. “I have grandkids, too. When they come to visit, they run to hug the animals before me.”

The key to this ranch is its joy, but also its scattered, messy truth. Bartling says living on a farm is a 24/7 job, and that work shows. No one coming here expects it to be spotless—for throw pillows to be aligned at a 90-degree angle with the couch cushions, or for rabbit turds to be kept in a neat and orderly row.

It smells. The moisture in the air is half natural humidity, half camel spit. Your shoes will turn 50 shades of brown. A goat or sheep might try to eat your winter beanie right off your head. Yet people keep coming back.

“I love seeing a change in people,” Bartling says. “You can tell when the light bulb comes on, when someone keeps returning, or even beginning to volunteer. Even if I have a crappy day or start feeling lonely during the winter months, if someone says ‘thank you for sharing,’ that’s enough.”

Visit scatterjoyacres.org for more information.

This article was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Marian Andersen

December 27, 2018 by
Photography by Heather and Jameson Hooton

Editor’s note: These autobiographical pieces and corresponding photos are part of a special edition of 60PLUS featuring local residents who prove that fashion has no age limits. Click here for the full list of featured models. 

Marian Andersen, 90

I grew up in Lincoln, and met and married Harold “Andy” Andersen there. We moved to Omaha in 1958, and I enjoyed a career as a homemaker and community volunteer.

I raised two children. My son David lives in Omaha with his wife, Leslie, and their three children; my daughter Nancy lives in Denver with her three sons.

I served on many local and national boards, including the Red Cross and PBS. Harold and I co-chaired the first Shakespeare on the Green Festival, and we served as chairs of that event for 20 years. We were also the first chairmen of the Tocqueville Society of the United Way and the University of Nebraska Campaign for Excellence.

I derive great pleasure being with family and friends, and I love sports.

I’ve been to every Major League stadium for baseball in the U.S. and have been attending Nebraska football games for 87 years. I was 3 years old when I went to my first game. I like to travel—I’ve been to all 50 states and 60 countries.

Two of my favorite pieces of advice are: “A professional plans her vacations around her work; a volunteer plans her work around her vacations,” and  “carpe diem; seize the day!”

This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 edition of 60PLUS in Omaha MagazineTo receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Greg S. Cutchall

Photography by Heather and Jameson Hooton

Editor’s note: These autobiographical pieces and corresponding photos are part of a special edition of 60PLUS featuring local residents who prove that fashion has no age limits. Click here for the full list of featured models. 

Greg S. Cutchall, 66

I am the president and CEO of Cutchall Management Co. I have also been husband to Molly Cutchall for 19 years, and we have three children and four grandchildren.

When I think back on my accomplishments, I am most proud of my family, and of not only surviving, but flourishing in a tough business (restaurants) for 36 years.

My family brings me happiness, as do my friends, and I also enjoy helping my employees grow and succeed within my company.

My advice for living life is to enjoy every day, look for the positive, and don’t sweat the small stuff. As for aging gracefully, I think I’m lucky to have good genes, but I also think people should stay active and engaged in both work and life.

This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 edition of 60PLUS in Omaha MagazineTo receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Cyndee Heedum

Photography by Heather and Jameson Hooton

Editor’s note: These autobiographical pieces and corresponding photos are part of a special edition of 60PLUS featuring local residents who prove that fashion has no age limits. Click here for the full list of featured models. 

Cyndee Heedum, 66

I grew up in Scotia, Nebraska, a town of 350 people. I attended the University of Nebraska and attained a degree in interior design; however, I had fallen in love with retail working in a family business growing up. That took me on my first retail management journey at Kmart. After working there for 10 years, I decided to use my degree and worked for several years in the commercial design industry. I then went back to retail and have worked for 19 years in the corporate office of J.C. Penney. I am a single professional who loves my job.

I am proud of the friends who have helped me along the way, and my brother, who is my best friend. I am a positive person and enjoy what every day offers. I have been successful in my career and would not change a thing. My favorite accomplishment was traveling to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and working on all their military dorms. Germany had great wine.

I enjoy being involved with the arts in Omaha, visiting wineries, and watching Husker football.  

My advice to others is to have a couple glasses of white wine every evening and toast to your friends. You need to keep moving, think young, and remove your makeup every night. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never give up.

This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 edition of 60PLUS in Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Camille Metoyer Moten

Photography by Heather and Jameson Hooton

Editor’s note: These autobiographical pieces and corresponding photos are part of a special edition of 60PLUS featuring local residents who prove that fashion has no age limits. Click here for the full list of featured models. 

Camille Metoyer Moten, 64

“A life well lived” is the phrase I hope will fall from the lips of anyone describing me long after I’m gone.

My parents instilled in me a love of people and sensitivity to what is important in this life. That, along with the strength that comes from my relationship with Jesus Christ, has allowed me to be grateful for all of my triumphs and challenges. Our home was filled with music, love, and activism; my parents were involved in fighting for civil rights. This gave us the opportunity to learn that fighting for what is right is important, and it often means educating others.

I have learned to balance marriage, children, and a singing career, and have made giving back a priority in my life. My husband and I worked at Boys Town for 16 years as family teachers, giving love and structure to over 100 children. My career outside of singing included coordinating programs at the YWCA [now known in Omaha as the Women’s Center for Advancement], management at CommScope, and writing grants at Youth Care and Beyond. I have performed at the Omaha Community Playhouse, served on several boards at the YWCA, am the board president of Arts for All, and am president-elect of the downtown Rotary Club.

In 2013, I discovered I had breast cancer, but with my faith and the support of family and friends, I sailed through that episode of my life without a hitch.

I am most proud of my two grown children, my grandson, and of being married for 42 years. I am so blessed.

Happiness is such a fleeting emotion; I focus on the underlying joy within my soul that comes from my relationship with Christ. I am happy when I am singing, and hopefully I impart happiness to my audiences.

My advice for living life is exactly that—live life. I continue to live, set new goals, and focus on doing good in the world.

I have released my third CD; all were recorded from age 54 to 64. If someone told me I was too old to do that, I didn’t hear them. It’s too late to go back now.

This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 edition of 60PLUS in Omaha MagazineTo receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.


Charlie Rossi

Photography by Heather and Jameson Hooton

Editor’s note: These autobiographical pieces and corresponding photos are part of a special edition of 60PLUS featuring local residents who prove that fashion has no age limits. Click here for the full list of featured models. 

Charlie Rossi, 74

Growing up in St. Louis during the 1950s and early 1960s, I lived in a neighborhood with friends whose major interests were sports and clothes. The area was barely middle-class, yet my friends and I aspired to own clothes with upscale labels, such as shirts from Gant and Hathaway, sweaters from Pringle of Scotland, and Weejuns (penny loafers) from G.H. Bass & Co. Little did I know my affinity for designer-name clothes would have such a profound impact on my life. 

My first significant retail position was on the sales staff of the St. Louis Neiman Marcus store, which opened in 1974. Some salient advice I received while working there was, “If you own a store, it should have a focus and not try to be all things to all people.” This philosophy has guided me during my entire career. 

I have always been a big fan of the old movie stars of the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, such as Gary Cooper, Fred Astaire, and Clark Gable. They each had a personal yet timeless style. When Ralph Lauren reinterpreted this manner of dress for the modern man, I was inspired to adopt a classic aesthetic for my store. 

Marriage brought me to Omaha in 1977. I resumed my retail career here at Ben Simons at Westroads after seeking out stores that carried Polo by Ralph Lauren and discovering this was the only local store carrying the brand at that time. Not long after starting there, I was introduced to the gentleman who represented Polo Clothing Co. in this area. He suggested to the men’s clothing buyer that he take me to New York to assist in the selection of Polo merchandise for Ben Simons. I left Ben Simons in March 1978 to help open Suttons in Regency Fashion Court, placing primary emphasis on the Polo label. My association there lasted 12 ½ years. 

My dream of owning my own store came to fruition when I opened Rossi Clothiers in July 1991. I have no intention of retiring. As my son once said to a friend, “My pop has never had a job in his life, because he goes to his hobby every day.” I have been fortunate to have good health, which I mostly attribute to genetics, but doing something you have a passion for sure helps. Family and friends also give meaning to your life. I have close friends I have known for over 50 years. My customers are not just my customers, they are also my friends. After all, I have known some of them for close to 40 years. Finally, I am so proud of my three children and selfishly hope to live a long time so I can spend it with my five phenomenal grandchildren.

This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 edition of 60PLUS in Omaha MagazineTo receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Gary F. and Iris J. Moore

Photography by Heather and Jameson Hooton

Editor’s note: These autobiographical pieces and corresponding photos are part of a special edition of 60PLUS featuring local residents who prove that fashion has no age limits. Click here for the full list of featured models. 

Gary F. Moore, M.D., FACS, 67

I thought I had everything figured out…until I met Iris.

I was valedictorian, a National Merit Scholar, and top of my dental school class. I knew exactly where I was going. She had been my organic chemistry lab partner, and because Mama didn’t raise no fool, I asked her to be my partner forever. When her green eyes and priceless tenacity left to pursue medical school in Omaha, I could not follow her fast enough. I switched from dentistry to medicine and let the cards fall where they may. That is why, for 45 years, I’ve introduced myself as “Iris’ husband.” I thought there was no greater title.

Until we had children. Being called “Papa” usurped any letters that might follow my name. As a father and a physician, I’ve learned people are willing to go much further when they feel they are being led and not pushed. I have trained 100-plus surgeons and raised three children, and I have tried to impress upon them two things: be your own boss, and first impressions matter. Which is why investing in yourself—not just in education and business, but in your appearance—is tantamount to success. In today’s culture of anything-means-business-casual, it is easy for performance to mirror attire. Dress like you give a damn.

As I have aged, I have discovered I enjoy the simple things in life. I want to spend as much time as possible with my family, drink good red wine, and be the best-dressed guy in the room. Because moderation is a wonderful thing…as long as you don’t overdo it.

Iris J. Moore, M.D., FACS, 67

I grew up on a cattle ranch in Colorado, then moved a world away to spend my teenage years helping my parents run an orphanage in equatorial Brazil. The last place I thought I’d end up was Omaha. But it’s worked out pretty well.

Before medical school, I didn’t even know what an ear, nose, and throat surgeon did—I just wanted to find solutions to problems. Not only was I the first person in my family to graduate college, I earned six degrees from the University of Nebraska and have made Omaha my home for nearly 40 years.

I fought gender politics in medicine while building a practice, raised three wonderful children despite working 80-hour weeks, and stayed married to my best friend and partner when it would have been easier to quit. I just don’t quit. That’s probably the best advice I can give—whether someone’s starting out or barely hanging on.

Even though no one thinks I will ever retire, I am actually looking forward to it. I’ll spend more time mentoring prospective physicians through the Nebraska Women’s Leadership Network, care for those the world has forgotten, and ride my horses at sunset. Maybe I will even slow down enough to enjoy some “coffee with my cream,” as friends say.

I will probably be late to my own funeral, but until that day, I am going to embrace my age, my wrinkles, and my failures. Because all of them tell the story of who I am and whom I have yet to become.

This article first appeared in the January/February 2019 edition of 60PLUS in Omaha MagazineTo receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.