They grew up with a landline, Pac-Man and Star Wars and experienced the Vietnam War, the assassination of a president and Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the surface of the moon. They are America’s largest, and often loudest generation. They are the Baby Boomers.
The U.S. population exploded after WWII, creating a generation of Americans with disposable income and sparking the consumer economy. And things would never be the same.
The members of the generation that once railed against the establishment, publicly organized in support of equality for everyone and attended music festivals wearing fringe and bell bottoms, have turned 60. And they’ve left their mark on America in ways they never dreamed possible.
Inspired by a national boomer list compiled by the PBS program, “American Masters,” AARP Sioux Falls created its own list of 19 notable boomers – AARP Boomers @50+ Sioux Falls – who have been an important part of the city’s growth, development and success. The list includes LSS President/CEO Betty Oldenkamp and Vice President of Development & Foundation, Bill Peterson.
To celebrate the city’s own resident boomers born between 1946 and 1964, AARP, Keloland TV, The Washington Pavilion and Evans Gallery have sponsored an exhibit in the Washington Pavilion featuring the portraits of each boomer. KELO also interviewed each of those featured on the Boomer List for a short video in which they recall fond memories, reflect on the turbulent times and events and give a little sage advice gained from experience.
Betty Oldenkamp recalled playing Hide and Seek, the impact of her mother’s independent spirit and how quickly things have changed during her lifetime. “The rate of change we’re experiencing is greater than what other generations saw before us. The fact that we do so much without a connection to other things fascinates me,” she said.
In light of the boomers’ past angst toward corporations and the establishment, Bill Peterson enjoyed a little laugh when he said, “Look who’s leading all of those organizations. Look who is rolling up their sleeves and working in many of them. By and large, it’s the Baby Boomers who started them or have taken them over, taking them to a whole different level.”
Both Betty and Bill have been important in the growth and development of LSS and we couldn’t be prouder. Also included on the list are longtime supporters of LSS Joe Henkin, partner at HenkinSchultz Creative Services who has worked with LSS for the past 17 years and former South Dakota State Senator, Tom Dempster who sits on the LSS board and plays an active role in the community through various organizations and affiliations.
It may be ironic, but it’s not surprising that Sioux Falls’ Baby Boomers have done great things for the city and the state. Their generation never could leave well enough alone.
Photos courtesy of Rod Evans, Evans Photography Gallery.