Fifth in a series of stories on this year’s 8 over 80 recipients.
WAVERLY — Keeping up with Marianne Waldstein is a difficult task. When she’s not traveling to see her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she is busy serving her community.
“Every day I write down what I’m going to do. I keep a really good calendar,” she said. “I love to be involved. As long as I can do it and don’t forget to go, it’s OK."
Waldstein was overwhelmingly nominated for the Eight Over Eighty contest at The Courier. At 88 years old, she is officially retired from teaching, but you’ll still find her in the classroom.
“She is almost giddy when she talks about the students she works with when she comes to tutor,” said Kris Meyer, principal at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, in her nomination letter.
Waldstein forges long-lasting bonds with her students and attends many of their extracurricular activities.
“She is lively, animated, upbeat and positive. She’s a contributor, loves her Waverly community and is an active group participant,” said Jane Harrison, who met Waldstein while volunteering with Community Builders and Cedar River Readers.
The Community Builders program was developed by Waldstein’s son, Fred Waldstein, at Wartburg College. The leadership class pairs college students with Waverly-Shell Rock seventh-graders to practice skills to improve and engage their community. Waldstein also is a member of Keep on Learning, a weekly lecture series at Wartburg College.
As a lifelong learner, Waldstein knows the importance of reading and shares it with others. She is a founding member of Cedar River Readers, a nonprofit theater group that partners with the Waverly Public Library to read and perform literature to schools and community groups.
“We have a blast,” Waldstein said. “We try to instill the love of reading in children and adults. It keeps me young, I’ll tell you.”
Waldstein said being around younger generations keeps her active and vibrant.
“Your old friends are absolutely wonderful, but be sure to include young friends. It gives you such a spark,” she said.
From volunteering to book clubs to helping seniors with transportation, Waldstein remains an inspiration to others.
She is an active member and volunteer at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Waverly as well as a wheelchair volunteer at Bartels Retirement Community, where she lives.
A former resident of Eisenach Village, Waldstein stays in touch with her friends there by co-chairing a book club and organizing monthly meetings for birthdays.
She’s also a member of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, an international women’s organization, and legislative chair at the American Legion, where she helps provide funds for scholarships and the Marshalltown Veterans Home.
The first meeting that initiated the Waverly Area Veterans Post was held in her home, and she was a former member of the Iowa Republican Women’s State Board.
Waldstein grew up on a farm in Storm Lake, where she was taught the importance of hard work and supporting others by her parents, Otto and Marie Aust, who emigrated from Germany after World War I.
“They taught us to respect the flag and to be proud of our country,” Waldstein said.
She began her teaching career in Storm Lake before marrying Arnold “Arne” Waldstein, who served in the military and in the Iowa Senate for eight years. Arne Waldstein died four years ago after 62 years of marriage.
The couple lived for a time in Turkey and Czechoslovakia, relocated to Georgia and eventually had four children before moving to Waverly in 1999, where Waldstein joined the Kiwanis Club and symphony board.
Together, they traveled to almost all 50 states, enjoyed downhill skiing for nearly 20 years and traveled the world as part of an overseas travel group, staying in hostels for the elderly.
Waldstein still keeps busy with the travel group, two book clubs and her family. She loves classical music and regularly attends opera screenings at Marcus College Square Cinema in Cedar Falls.
“As long as I feel good and as long as I can do stuff and help other people ... everyone should do it as long as you can,” she said.
“Your old friends are absolutely wonderful, but be sure to include young friends. It gives you such a spark.”