It is Wednesday morning and I am here sitting at my computer, looking at the notes I made talking to Frances Burton (hereinafter referred to as Frankie) so that I can send the column into the Shawnee News-Star on Thursday to print in their paper for Sunday.

It is Wednesday morning and I am here sitting at my computer, looking at the notes I made talking to Frances Burton (hereinafter referred to as Frankie) so that I can send the column into the Shawnee News-Star on Thursday to print in their paper for Sunday. And, as usual, I am having a hard time trying to decide how I am going to start... When I first told Kate that I wanted to do a Volunteer after the column last week about Thixe Totty and her Volunteers Impacting People program, she agreed and said that would be timely and we have volunteers. So then who..... Frankie Burton. I asked her, she agreed and said that would be a brief five minute discussion to interview her because she could explain her life in less than five minutes. So we sat down, I started to ask questions and the person that I’ve known since Tai Chi class in 2013 was NOT a five minute interview person.... and here is her Senior Center story!!!

Frankie Burton was born in Denver, Colorado, her family moved to California and when she got married to her first husband, he was in the military for eight years and they moved around the country a lot. When she married her second husband they moved to Oklahoma (OKC) because Frankie wanted to raise horses. And so she did and moved to Shawnee. Her first horse was a mare with a foal and then another mare arrived again with a foal and soon she had seven horses, two children (both girls), three dogs and a rabbit. This would appear to be sufficient for most people to keep them occupied but not Frankie.

From loving those horses she already had, they started to race horses. Her husband became the front person, Frankie and one daughter were the grooming people and her other daughter helped with the jockeying. They literally provided everything for their race horses from the training stages to the cooling down after the race. They enjoyed running race horses and going to races all over the country up until 2001 when it became too expensive to be a hobby so they sold the racers and kept the horses as (and truly we can call them this) pets.

Now most people would have found that they had little time to do much else than all of the above but not Frankie. During this time she also worked for 2 years as a waitress, several years with Southwestern Bell as a telephone operator, and 35 years with the Department of Transportation. Frankie was the Field person for maintaining the portion of I40 that ran from Newalla to the Okfuskee County line and, when you do the math, Frankie was the person responsible for getting all the potholes, resurfacing and generally maintaining 240 miles of interstate highway for 35 years. By the way that figure comes from 60 miles of highway, two lanes each way (that’s 240 miles total) including the rest areas (one on each side of the road).

Frankie retired from the DOT in 2010 at the age of 70 and three months later she arrived at the Shawnee Senior Center with questions. In the process of asking questions she was told about the TaiChi classes and that Volunteers were needed to help support Staff. So Frankie (not being a person to sit still for very long) started taking the TaiChi classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and volunteering to be the receptionist at the Center on Wednesday morning from 8 to 11am. She has since changed her Volunteer Day to Tuesday morning from 8-Noon. According to VIP records she has been volunteering since 2011 and has accumulated 1,298 volunteer hours. Now you would think that would be enough to do for a person who has always worked two jobs at the same time for her whole life but not our Frankie. She loved the TaiChi class, so when they needed someone who could cover the class when the instructor (you may remember our column on TaiChi and Sharon Autrey) would not be there, she took the opportunity to become a certified TaiChi instructor. She was also the TaiChi Instructor for a class held at the Choctaw City Library for two years. Right now our Kate is working on other venues for TaiChi classes that will utilize Frankie’s skills as an instructor.

Now you know some history about one of our Volunteers but I don’t want you to go away with just that. Our Volunteers are special people. They are outgoing and they love meeting and greeting seniors who come to the Center. They continue their involvement in the classes, dances and opportunities at the Center. They also remain physically, emotionally, and mentally active in the process of life without having to work and enjoy staying socially in contact with people. Thixe Totty, at VIP, needs Volunteers and so does the Shawnee Senior Center. Stop in at the desk and chat with a volunteer. Talk to Kate (our Cruise Director) about the opportunities to Volunteer at the Center. As “Uncle Sam” might have said, “Volunteers are needed at the Shawnee Senior Center!”

Need more information about volunteering in Shawnee? Check out “Mike in the Morning” at KGFF Radio (FM 100.9 or AM 1450) on Wednesday Morning, August 16th at 8:35am. They’re gonna be taking names and numbers of prospective volunteers.

And remember at the Shawnee Senior Center “Age is just a number”. The website is www.SHAWNEESENIORS.ORG and our Facebook page is “Shawnee Senior Center”. Take a break and visit your local Senior Center! See You There!