Resident Profile: Ann Wallace

A senior woman smiling and holding a mug on a counter next to a vase of flowers inside a kitchen

Moving to Oakwood Village University Woods during a pandemic didn’t stop Ann Wallace from hitting the ground running. Soon enough, she got busy volunteering, precisely as she did during, and after, her long career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Ann grew up on a farm in the tiny community of Oil City in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. Oil City is little more than a wide spot in the road, she explains, just two miles from Ontario near the hilly terrain of Wildcat Mountain State Park.

Ann came to Madison in 1959 to attend the University of Wisconsin, where she received a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1963. Soon afterward, her long career at UW began.

“I started working in the sociology department three weeks after graduation. I worked for 15 years on a series of research and training projects there before moving on to the UW School of Education Dean’s Office,” Ann shares.

During her time at UW, Ann was also involved in academic staff governance. She served on the Academic Staff Assembly and decided that, given the nature of her work in the Dean’s Office, she was a natural for the Personnel, Policies, and Procedures Committee. She chaired that group until she retired in 2005.

A senior woman smiling

I get to know new residents and we become friends. That's very satisfying to me.

“It was great exposure to many people outside my unit. That’s why it was so satisfying,” Ann says. “Now I’m connected with people all over the Oakwood campus because I know a lot of people throughout the University who live here.”

Upon her retirement, Ann volunteered as the executive director of the UW-Madison Retirement Association (UWRA) for many years. UWRA provides retired and current employees of a variety of UW-related organizations with an opportunity to stay connected with former colleagues, meet new friends, participate in activities, and continue to learn. Membership is also open to the employee’s spouse, partner, widow, or widower who may or may not be affiliated with UW. Others with no affiliation other than friendship are also welcomed as members.

“There’s a social aspect, and we have many committees that plan programs, like a committee on financial matters or electronic technology,” Ann explains. "To me, it’s all about what you learn from the programming and the monthly newsletter.”

Years ago, UWRA offered a program to help members learn more about Madison-area retirement communities. That was Ann’s introduction to Oakwood.

“I was thinking about retirement communities then, and a friend of mine told me I should get on Oakwood’s waiting list so I would be at the top of the list when I was ready.”

In December of 2020, Ann was ready. She moved from a modest home on Madison’s southwest side where she had lived since 1976. As she settled in, she discovered several of her new neighbors were old acquaintances.

A pair of senior hands playing the piano with music book on piano stand

I'm so happy I moved here. The major thing is the programming. I enjoy the Center for Arts and Education. We've had so many musicians performing here.

Today, Ann says it feels luxurious sitting in her recliner in the large living room of her new apartment.

“What do I love about Oakwood? Oh my gosh, that’s easy,” she says. “I’m so happy I moved here. The major thing is the programming. I enjoy the Center for Arts and Education. We’ve had so many musicians performing here. You just take the elevator downstairs to see them!”

During her career, Ann was involved in academic staff governance. She benefits from that experience as she serves on the Life Enrichment and Dining committees at Oakwood. She calls it a great chance to get to know more people and be involved in the workings of her community.

“The other role I have is as a new-resident advocate,” Ann says. “Some people come in not knowing everything they need to know. We have floor representatives to help new people feel welcomed, and new-resident chat groups that meet every two weeks. I’m part of one, and we’ve chosen to organize two more groups. That’s very satisfying to me. I get to know new residents, and we become friends.”

“I couldn’t ask for a better place to live.”

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