In 1998 Charlie Speno, as director of the Council on Aging, had a vision that the mental and physical health problems associated with aging could be reduced or alleviated if the senior population increased their participation in outdoor activities. He put an ad in the Durango Herald, looking for people fifty-five and over who would like to enjoy outdoor activities with others their age. Dell Manners, who was fairly new to Durango, answered that ad hoping to find other people to play with. Along with a handful of others, Dell met with Charlie for a couple of organizational meetings, after which he turned the group over to the enthusiastic direction of Dell Manners and Seniors Outdoors! was established.
Dell was the first president of the club and she and I (John Martin) formed the first outings committee. We would sit at a table over a cup of coffee and make up the outings schedule for the upcoming season. When the club’s first winter approached, I asked her what we were going to do to fill the winter schedule. She said, “Why don’t we try snowshoeing?” Although I was less than enthusiastic, I agreed to give it a try and it turned out to be one of S.O!’s favorite activities. One of Dell’s many great ideas!
Dell has always jumped into any organization she has ever been involved in with both feet. She has been a very active hike leader and, when she was no longer able to do the more difficult hikes, she started the Wednesday Easy Outings (now on Thursdays) for club members looking for shorter, less rigorous hikes. Dell has been our club historian, maintaining the club photo albums from the days before we had an S.O! website. She has been our Volunteer Recruiter and has made innumerable phone calls to welcome new members to the club. She has introduced speakers at our monthly meetings and brought maps and informational brochures that she has collected from various places to share with fellow club members. Dell has truly been the heart of our club and an often-unsung hero.
Dell, we all want to honor you and to thank you for your invaluable service to this club. Without you it probably wouldn’t exist. We love you.