HOPATCONG - Loretta Rankin and John Maine have been chosen as the female and male seniors of the year in Hopatcong. The announcement was made at Saturday’s annual seniors picnic held at the Senior Center pavilion.
Rankin, an eight-year member of Hopatcong Seniors, Inc. is the group’s current president. She is a member of Mayor Sylvia Petillo’s Health Advisory committee and is on the mayor’s Senior Advisory Committee.
Born in Queens “a very long time ago,” Rankin has been living in Hopatcong for the past 44 years with her husband Robert, the Seniors, Inc. president four years ago. Together they raised six kids and now have 11 grandchildren.
Because of her background as a youth track coach, Rankin saw the need to add activities that were more physical, less sedentary to the senior group. The themed dances began with a New Year’s Eve dance followed by a Valentine’s Day dance and most recently a spring dance. All the dances have been held at the senior center and attendance at each has been good, said Rankin.
“We’ve had around 45 people attend one of the dances, said Rankin. “With seniors if you get more than 10 to show up you have a lot,” she said, noting that some are snowbirds or some have health issues that crop up now and again.
For the summer Rankin is encouraging seniors to attend the six-week bocce program at the senior center bocce courts. The seniors are treated to a picnic dinner followed by a couple of games of bocce. After all the bocce games are complete, ice cream is served and prizes are awarded to each winner, she said. It is because of these initiatives Rankin was chosen as Hopatcong’s Senior of the Year.
“It’s an honor,” said Rankin. “I appreciate the fact that they thought I was worthy of this.”
A few years ago Rankin was instrumental in getting a number of her fellow seniors to pose in various stages of undress for a charity calendar. Dubbed the “Orphaned Senior Calendar,” the calendar was made up of photos that had items strategically placed so as to avoid any real nudity. The calendar was a huge success, said Rankin, with proceeds from the sale going to the Save The People food pantry at West Side Methodist Church and to help offset the cost of decorations for any of the senior socials. Rankin is again thinking of resurrecting the calendar as a way of promoting the senior group and raising money for a good cause.
Maine and his wife Marlene have been members of the senior group for only six years. Maine retired as an accountant in 2007 but immediately “started a new career” as a substitute teacher in four area school districts including Hopatcong. A past president of the senior group and current treasurer, he continues to work the sidelines as a high school football referee and high school softball umpire, something he’s been doing for over 40 years.
“Why should I stop working?” he asks. “I like what I’m doing and I enjoy being with kids,” he said.
Maine was nominated as Senior of the Year primarily because for the past six years he has been doing free income tax work for fellow seniors, donating his time and knowledge.
He also helped restore the groups’ tax-free status after a change in the tax codes caused the organization to lose its tax-exempt status.
“This group of seniors are fun-loving and descent human beings,” said Councilwoman and senior citizen liaison Marie Galate. “I’ve never seen anything like it. They are all here to help each other,” she said of the 170-plus-member group.
A large sign in honor of Rankin and Maine will be prominently displayed on Lakeside Boulevard near the senior center.