Austin is Aging, Developers Make Moves to Capture Market

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, City of Austin demographer Ryan Robinson. Courtesy of Robert Calzada, Austin-American Statesman
Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, the whole Central Texas region is aging, you certainly know. What is pleasantly surprising is that cities and businesses are taking notice.

Not long after this article (“Austin aging, latest census data show”), detailing the changing or “graying” demographics of Austin, did two major senior living developments get revealed:

The first one, in Georgetown, will be located near large Sun City Senior Living development. Read more about it here: 2 Georgetown projects add to region’s options for senior living

Today, a project in Round Rock was announced, which will bring more memory care living options to Central Texas. Read more here: Round Rock project will add to area’s supply of memory-care facilities

While both these projects will take some time to be available to seniors, we’re excited about growth in the number of resources for older adults in Central Texas. What are your thoughts?

Statesman: Austin icon Willie Kocurek gets a memorial garden

The Austin American Statesman featured AGE’s recent event to honor co-founder Willie Kocurek. Special thank you to all who joined us on Sunday and to the Statesman staff.

Austin icon Willie Kocurek gets a memorial garden

The Austin Groups for the Elderly, which Kocurek co-founded, dedicated a garden and planted a tree in his memory.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Willie Kocurek, a dedicated Austin civic advocate who died in January, nurtured the causes of education and elder care during his 98 years.

In honor of his contributions to the Austin Groups for the Elderly, a tree and memorial garden were dedicated to him Sunday on the grounds of the nonprofit organization he co-founded in 1986 to provide resources for seniors.

“Daddy would have loved” the event, Kocurek’s daughter, Kay Kocurek Bell, said Sunday, explaining how he’d have worked the crowd of dozens who turned out in his memory, many of them wearing Kocurek’s signature red bow tie. “He loved AGE. He loved people. He thought the potential of AGE was unending.”

Along with Kocurek’s dedication to elder care issues, he was well-known in the community for his role as a merchant and for his advocacy for education.

He owned a service station and store called Willie Kocurek Co., and the former Austin school board president had a Southwest Austin elementary school named for him in 1986.

Kocurek attended law school at age 67 and started a law practice at 70. He kept up with community issues and Austin Groups for the Elderly in particular. In recent years, as a resident of Westminster Manor retirement home, he requested and read the organization’s board meeting minutes.

The Willie Kocurek Legacy Garden is planned on the grounds of the organization’s building in North Central Austin next to the memorial garden of co-founder Bert Kruger Smith, who died in 2004.

On Sunday, Executive Director Joyce Lauck and Bell helped plant the first tree in the garden, a red crape myrtle, Kocurek’s favorite.

Along with Kocurek’s daughter and his widow, Maurine, state Rep. Elliott Naishtat showed up to honor his mentor.

Naishtat met Kocurek when Kocurek and Kruger Smith brought up the idea for the organization in the office of state Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, where Naishtat was staff attorney at the time.

“That’s when they presented to us the concept, the idea of starting Austin Groups for the Elderly,” Naishtat said Sunday.

“To come out here and to see the fruition, to see how wonderful this program is, and to remember that Willie and Bert Kruger Smith made it happen — it’s very special.”; 512-392-8750

Statesman Shares SeniorNet Success Story

The Austin American Statesman recently featured SeniorNet student Pui Hui Falkenhainer and her work on her website on washi.

World of washi revealed

Paper artist shares secrets of her delicate style on the Web.

Monday, January 26, 2009

In her north-central Austin home, Pun Hui Falkenhainer is surrounded by more than three decades of her diverse artwork.

Along the walls are intricate paintings she has done for her husband and for the company she once worked for as a commercial artist. Near her fireplace are plastic-covered dolls made by hand using colored washi paper, each layer applied and dried in a process that took weeks for each figure. In her home office are bins filled with smaller angel and choir figurines. And in her dining room and workspace, she has the tools for one of her latest projects, 3-D-style artwork of puppies that she crafts by hand.

Falkenhainer is a small, thin woman with an outsized talent. She honed her skills in Houston at an ad agency after arriving from Korea and getting a master’s degree at the University of Houston. After her retirement, she went through a three-year depression, she says, but came out of it when she began developing her washi paper art skills, learned from her mother.

Referred to as “rice paper,” but actually made from mulberry tree fibers, washi can be used as papier-mâché. Different colored papers can be used together to create layers on a sculpture. Falkenhainer’s projects contain such intricate detail and flawless color work that it’s hard to believe she’s been able to craft so many pieces. Each one can take weeks to make.

Instead of trying to sell her art during the 20 years since her retirement, Falkenhainer instead taught herself how to build a Web site at featuring her work, as well as tutorials showing step-by-step instructions on how to create these different kinds of art.

The site has been around for about seven years and continues to grow as she adds more art techniques and photos. “If I influence one person among the hundreds of visitors, I can say I achieved my goal,” she says. “It’s a privilege that I have something to share with so many people.”

We spoke to Falkenhainer about and her varied artistic work: