By Shelby Longland, ‘13

William “Bill” Bailey began coming to the University of Richmond in 2008 as a community member of the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness. There, he noticed flyers and schedules for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

He picked up a copy of the schedule of classes and learned that membership in the Osher Institute provided access to special interest mini-courses, free lectures, community service projects, performing arts events, and the opportunity to audit various undergraduate courses for anyone “50 or better.” He fit the target demographic and joined the Osher Institute.

Once an Osher member, Bailey found and enrolled in a few classes he thought he would enjoy taking. Through these classes—and those he’s taken since that time—Bailey has learned a lot and discovered new interests and passions.

One class he took during the Spring 2009 semester, “Drawing for Those Who Cannot Draw a Straight Line,” was especially inspirational. As a result of taking the class, Bailey discovered his enthusiasm for art—and hitherto uncharted artistic talent as well.

During the semesters that followed, Bailey began to use his Osher membership to pursue his new-found passion and talent for art by auditing drawing and painting classes offered through the Schools of Arts & Sciences and Professional & Continuing Studies. 

And as a result of pursuing his passion, Bailey has shown five of his pieces (oil paintings and charcoal pastels) in galleries and shows like the Elders: Creative Spirit art show at Richmond’s Art Works and Student Art Show Winter 2012 at Richmond’s Art Haus.

Bailey’s interests don’t stop at art, though. A graduate of Western Illinois University and a lifelong student of history, he also has audited courses in the University’s History and Theatre departments. Building on his experience growing up in the Chicagoland area, he now teaches a class on the history of Chicago.

Through these experiences in the Osher Institute, Bailey feels he has “gained an extended family.” This sentiment inspired him to join the Osher Leader Support Team, whose mission is “to nurture and support all who serve as program Leaders for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.”

Bailey explains that the Council supports course leaders in their journeys before, during, and after an Osher program. They also recognize excellent leaders of the Osher community.

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has provided Bailey opportunities through which he has recognized, fostered, and expressed his creativity in numerous subjects. It has also allowed him to form close relationships with many new people.

Bailey explains that Osher members welcome their fellow lifelong learners into the community with “open arms.” The leaders of the classes, he explains, are enthusiastic about their subjects and “make the students feel excited, too.”

A chance encounter of Osher Institute literature at the Weinstein Center has resulted in Bailey’s newly-burgeoning artistic talent. And through the Osher Institute, Bailey has gained an extended family, a renewed perspective, and plenty of inspiration.