By Susan Weisenburger
Lois Rogers is a spunky blonde firecracker who lights the world up with her enthusiasm for piano and choral music. It oozes out of her. Her music has been an infectious presence in our communities for over 25 years. She is a retired music teacher from Memorial’s provincial award winning choirs, a private piano instructor, and the lead singer of “Time to Play” based out of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Indeed Lois lives in two worlds now – AB and Mexico – half and half. When she is gone we miss her tapping toe, her snapping finger and her vivacious smile.
Ted and Lois are teachers who married and lived on the family farm in Duffield for 7 years. With growing children they realized they would spend too much time driving kids back and forth to activities in town so they moved to Spruce Grove in 1985. Leaving the farm is never an easy thing and so they were looking for as much space as possible. They found it in the new lots opened on the creek and trail system in Millgrove. It was a prime piece of real estate.
Ted taught English and was an administrator at Spruce Comp. Lois taught business and gym at Memorial. They found themselves very comfortable in small city life and made lots of friends. She talks a lot about “busy” while working and raising four children. She also ran a part time business in piano instruction after school and evenings from her baby grand piano. But Music kept calling her deeper so she volunteered to help with the musicals at school and then, by 1993, she joined Maureen Melnyk in building a strong and vibrant choral program at Memorial. The idea exploded!
“One year we had 100 people come to our concert and the next they couldn’t all get in!”
“I can’t say enough about how important it is to find someone who sees things and approaches teaching in the same way. That combination made my job a constant highlight! It was amazing to see what the kids could actually do.”
In 2002 Daryl Weisenburger came along to forge that same kind of partnership.
Lois says that in her experience she has found two kinds of teenagers – girls and boys.
“They are very different when it comes to Music. Boys and girls can behave the same way in Math class but not in Music. Girls are eager to please and cooperative. Boys turn into something else! But they are what make the choir. They give spunk and energy and depth. They are more vibrant. You have to deal with them differently. Teaching music is a lot like coaching. You get to know the kids on a different level than in the regular classroom. It is very rewarding!”
Lois’ choirs regularly brought home the highest awards. “All awards are special,” she says, “but my biggest accomplishment was when, after 5 years, the broader music community took us seriously. We could produce and produce consistently. We put Memorial on the map. People wanted to hear our opinions and asked us to speak at conferences. I knew we would not always win the awards that we should, but if you go and do your best then you will always gain respect and acknowledgement.”
Lois retired about 10 years ago and began spending increasing amounts of her year in Mexico. The couple had looked around quite a bit, traveling to different places around the world, before they picked their second home. “You can’t just move in – you must build a life.” Lois says, “If you’re going to be away from home for more than 2 months in the year then you need to have things to do that interest you. Pursue them in the new location. You’ll meet a whole new set of people and build community.” There is choir, her small singing group “Time to Play”, language lessons, marshalling at the local golf course, and even Pickle Ball. Some get involved in animal rescue. “And wherever you are there are always your daily activities. It’s not all about sitting by the pool everyday!”
Lois’ Canadian friends seem happy to live right here and just visit Mexico from time to time. They always have a place to stay! These friends remain very active and have no complaints. Lois’ mom is 101 and lives at Laurier Place in West Edmonton. She likes the idea that her mom could buy her own apartment in assisted living and regrets that Spruce Grove does not offer that option yet. She also worries that transportation will become a big issue when she can no longer drive. “DATS might take you to Edmonton but there is no DATS that runs from Edmonton out to Spruce Grove.”
What advice would Lois’ younger self give to her older self?
“Look after yourself. Put yourself and health first.”
“Treat yourself well and give yourself time for you.”
“Maybe you should take that walk everyday.”
“Your lifestyle is very important. You do not know when your life could take a turn.”
We’re happy to have her back for OUR half of the year!
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