Chicagoans master the art of growing older
Aschuler Despres, 90, and Leon Despres, 91
In the evenings before dinner, the Despres enjoy one
of their anti--aging secrets--a margarita in the summer, a manhattan
in the winter. They also recommend staying involved with longtime
interests: Marian Alschuler Despres, PhB'30, PhD'36, continues
to lead preservation efforts at Henry Hobson Richardson's Glessner
House, where her family funded the restoration of the library.
Meanwhile, each weekday morning, former Chicago alderman Leon
Despres, PhB'27, JD'29, catches the Jeffrey Express in front of
their South Stony Island Avenue co--op. He gets off downtown at
the University Club for a swim, then heads over to his law office.
"We've influenced each other. I've learned about politics from
him, and he has learned about art from me. Chicago has changed
a lot culturally during our time here. It's much more of a cultural
center with all of the plantings, the Cows on Parade public--art
display, and the growth of the theaters, particularly the community
theaters. In the '20s, Chicago was a cowtown in a different sense.
It's really flourishing culturally today.
grew up in Winnetka. When I was 16, I felt that I had had a privileged
childhood, and I decided that the best way to give back was to
become a teacher. I used my experience teaching for a number of
years to help develop the docent program for the Glessner House
on Prairie Avenue. I've been involved in preserving the house
for some 25 or 30 years.
I was 20, I went to a church convention and someone said that
if you want a good old age you have to prepare for it in your
youth. I thought that was ridiculous, but it's true. Establish
your interests when you're young and pursue them."
"As I've grown older, my goals have been trimmed. I have come
to terms with the fact that the world cannot achieve perfection.
I think there are lots of things you can do, and it's a disgrace
not to try. But I thought it might happen--perfection. I lived
through World War I to make the world safe for democracy, and
then along came World War II. I thought that now we would have
an organization to stop conflicts, but just awful things have
happened. Even so, life is also much easier. We have medications
now for some of the things we were afraid of when we were young,
and the changes caused by computers are just overwhelming.
of us have felt that our lives should be useful, and that hasn't
changed. Polonius advised, 'To thine own self be true.' Though
Polonius wasn't true to himself--he was a pretentious and hypocritical
old fool--you do have to follow your inclinations."