Alive at 55: Newton senior organization celebrates 55 years

Staff Writer

It was a beautiful day Thursday when the Newton Senior Citizens Club held their monthly meeting at the Newton Parks & Recreation Department.

The room was packed with those 55 and older to celebrate a milestone in their club’s history - the club’s founding on April 9, 1965.

Along with the announcements of April birthdays and anniversaries, future plans were discussed and local notables spoke to the group.

Mayor Anne P. Stedman, Richard Smith, past club president JT Sheets, and the Reverend Luther Knauff all spoke about the importance of the group.

Reverend Luther Knauff, longest member of the club, has attended meetings and events for over 30 years. Along with saying the blessings, he talked about the old days.

“I’ve been in Newton for over half of my life,” he said. “I came here and raised potatoes. I’d carry 100 pound sacks every day.”

Richard Smith, who was addressed as “the epitome of the Counsel on Aging in Catawba County,” talked about the importance for seniors to get involved. He shared with them some of the available programs that they could participate in, such as insurance registration, Tai Chi, and other activities.

“We just love to have you participate in any of these senior programs,” he said. Wanting to empower seniors, Smith gave them advice.

“The most important thing to do is to be an advocate,” he said. “You need to stand up and let people know.”

After the area guests finished speaking, special guest speaker, WBTV Meteorologist Al Conklin took the podium.

Conklin shared a lot about his life and about being with WBTV the past 27 years. He talked about how times have changed from the usage of untrained weather people to the meteorologists of today and answered seniors’ questions about the weather.

“We were the first television station in the Carolinas,” he said. “WBTV wil turn 70 this summer.”

Conklin said that meteorology has progressed and he is held to high standards.

“When I first started, it was easy-breezy,” he laughed. “Now we start our news cast at 4:30 in the morning.

Conklin said that even with the new technology, sometimes the old way of doing things is better.

“Everything today is instantaneous technology,” he said. “But it never beats just going out and meeting people face to face.”

After Conklin’s conclusion, it was time to enjoy a covered-dish meal, and the seniors finally got to fellowship with each other.

“This is the best part,” Alice Barnes, 89, said.