SIDNEY — Lu Ann Presser, a long-time local senior citizen activisit and a regular contributing columnist for the Sidney Daily News, has died.
The 75-year-old Presser succumbed to complications from surgeries and prolonged illnesses and passed away Saturday, Jan. 2, in her Sidney home.
She had retired in February 2014 from a 21-year career as marketing director of Dorothy Love Retirement Community.
“If you think back, she became a forerunner in marketing and providing education in health care,” said Dan O’Connor at that time. O’Connor is a former executive director of Dorothy Love and now president of OPRS Communities. “Nursing homes and retirement communities were pretty silent. The things she did were very unique in their day.”
“When I went to Dorothy Love, I had lived in Sidney all my life, but I didn’t know much about Dorothy Love. I wanted to make it a household word,” Presser said just before she retired. To do so, she invited the public as well as residents to events and programs.
“She was one of the first to open the doors of the retirement community to the greater public,” O’Connor said then. “She became a rock star, a role model. She set the standard, raised the bar, started to do things a whole different way. She’s smart, innovative, had integrity, (is) deeply caring, hardworking.”
The list of projects and programs Presser initiated is even longer than her tenure was. They include establishing a health care fair with Wilson Memorial Hospital and the YMCA, hosting a weekly radio program that featured guest speakers on WMVR, presenting dozens of performances in a variety series, providing quantities of health information — as well as good food — during Lunch and Learn sessions, hosting annual ice cream socials on campus, organizing a yearly heritage festival called Bygone Days and instructing a senior-citizen driver’s education class for AARP, among many others.
She sat on the steering committee that developed the Senior Center of Sidney and Shelby County, volunteered with Pro Seniors to teach people about Medicare fraud, assisted with Shelby County Seniors Day at the senior center and with Senior Day at the Shelby County Fair and volunteered with Leading Age, a nonprofit that represents nonprofits who serve seniors.
One of the things she was most passionate about was Alzheimer’s care and research. She chaired the Shelby County Walk to End Alzheimer’s year after year and organized and led a monthly Alzheimer’s support group which met at Dorothy Love.
Presser was a valued member of the Coalition on Aging and for years wrote a monthly column, “Senior Living,” for the Sidney Daily News. She was named Senior Citizen of the Year in Shelby County in 2014.
An active horsewoman all of her life, she acquired Goodie shortly before she retired from Dorothy Love.
“She spent a lot of time with Goodie and Alyssa (Presser, Lu Ann’s granddaughter), who showed Goodie in 4-H,” said Lisa Peters, of Sidney, one of Lu Ann’s five children. “And we always had an open home. We had friends with problems. They always felt at home here. Mom and Dad have always opened our house to them.”
Presser is survived by her husband of 54 years, Randy, and their children, Peters, Angela Allison, Melissa Ashby and Randy Presser Jr., all of Sidney, and Jamie Koehler, of Dayton; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
An obituary will appear in Wednesday’s newspaper, including information about a memorial service to be at Dorothy Love. At press time today, no date had been announced for the service.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.