At Parkshore Senior Campus, we like to celebrate our residents and staff - through their accomplishments and milestones. In our recent newsletter, Connie Oriani talks about her life and her first year at Parkshore:
September marks the first anniversary of my time as a resident of Parkshore. It has been a year of making new friends and of learning how to live life as a single person. I am pleased to be asked to introduce myself. I was born in Schenectady, New York to parents who were musicians, so my sister and I practiced the violin and piano each day instead of having to do the dishes.
I graduated from the University of Rochester and returned to my hometown to teach English and Social Studies. I met my husband, Richard Oriani, at a club for amateur musicians. Richard, with a PH.D. in Physical Chemistry from Princeton, had just joined the GE Research Laboratory. He was an avid musician, a great dancer, and a bit exotic; he was born in Central America, so Spanish was his first language. Thus began 66 years of a very harmonious marriage.
In 1958, Richard became the Director of the Fundamental Research Division at the Edgar Bain Laboratory of US Steel in Monroeville, PA. A new suburb of Pittsburgh, it had research labs of many big companies but no supportive cultural infrastructure. So, my kitchen table became ground zero for my friends and me to found a branch of the AAUW, a Ladies Day Out at the YWCA, and a dance club. Our biggest effort was to build a library for the community. The oft-quoted statement in the area was that “If God had wanted us to have a library, then Andrew Carnegie would have donated one.” Also, through our efforts in AAUW, we started a preschool that was so successful it was incorporated into the public school system. It was a busy time for us as parents of four children.
In 1980, when most men would be thinking of retiring, Richard accepted a call from the University of Minnesota to be a full professor, heading an Institute for Corrosion Research within the Department of Chemical Engineering and Material Science. Always the teacher, I found a job in the training department of TCF Bank. I have been president of the U of M Women’s Club and PEO chapters; have been a board member of the U Volunteers Assn. and the UMC Scholarship Committee, as well as a docent/hostess at Eastcliff, the home of the University president.
Wherever I have lived, I have played the violin in orchestras and small ensembles. The ability to do so is a lasting gift from my parents. I have performed with three orchestras in the Twin Cities and thought when I moved to Parkshore that I had retired. By great good luck, I have met musicians here. With added friends, there is now a quintet in residence. It has been a full life with four loving children and eight amazing grandchildren, and I am grateful.