Life Macomb

LIFE Macomb

L.I.F.E. (Learning Is ForEver) is an organization dedicated to providing high-quality, low-cost, and enjoyable adult-education experiences. The Macomb L.I.F.E. program is affiliated with the national organization, Road Scholar: Elderhostel Institute Network (EIN). It is independently administered by area residents who develop the courses, select the teachers, establish the fees, and promote the curriculum.


The LIFE Fall Fling scheduled for Oct. 22 has been cancelled due to the ongoing Covid Pandemic.

Fall 2021 Course Offerings


It is strongly preferred that all LIFE course participants be fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus. If you are experiencing any known symptoms of the virus, we ask that you do not attend class.

For classes held on both the WIU Macomb Campus and the Spoon River Community College Campus., all people, regardless of vaccination status, are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces throughout campus.

The Armchair Traveler (Enrollment: 32/50)

  • October 14: Tim and Emily Roberts and their kids Zoe and Sumner recently spent a year in China. See cities they visited from Urumchi in the west to Guangzhou in the southeast, as well as Hangzhou, their city of residence. They will share how they learned the hard way that Hong Kong hasn’t been assimilated to the mainland!
  • October 21: Alice and Bill Davenport think that Utah rocks! They loved the rocky National Parks of southeast Utah, as well as some scenic Navajo lands-especially Antelope Canyon. A mix of geology, photography, and exploration made for a trip worth sharing with all of you.
  • October 28: Mary Warnock and three family members made a Purple Heart remembrance tour of Germany & France in 2003. Their itinerary provided them the opportunity to see the Norman Invasion, as pictured in the Bayeux Tapestries, as well as visiting the Monet Giverney Gardens. Mary will share her impressions of the enormous church in Chartres, sampling Parisian ice cream, and touring the finest museums of Paris.
  • November 4: Sisters Connie LaRue and Candy Duncan are excited to share Travel in Spain, the Rick Steves Way. Rick Steves, a popular PBS host, author, and outspoken activist who encourages Americans to broaden their perspectives through travel, offers a wide variety of tours throughout Europe. We'll point out the highlights and wonders of Spain as we share the details of a journey on a Rick Steves tour.

Coordinator: Steve Hopper
Class Sessions: Thursdays, Oct. 14, 21, 28 and Nov. 4
Time: 1:30-3:00 pm
Place: Spoon River College Community Outreach Center, 2500 E. Jackson
Parking: At the site.
Maximum Enrollment: 50; Cost: $15

Basic Home Maintenance and Home Improvement 

(Enrollment: 4/30)

This class will cover basic home maintenance and improvement projects. The presenter will talk about what tools to always have on hand for basic triage in the event of a break or a leak. He will cover which tools are best to own and which are better to rent or borrow from a friend. Also, he will discuss which projects professionals should be hired to complete. During the first class period, he will talk about the basics. During the second class period, he will answer questions, as well as examine different tool options for various situations.

Coordinator: Ted Renner
Class Sessions: Thursdays, Nov. 11 & 18
Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
Place: Spoon River College Community Outreach Center, 2500 E. Jackson
Parking: At the site.
Maximum Enrollment: 30; Cost: $5

Battlefield and Homefront: Holiday Celebrations During the 1860's 

(Enrollment: 9/20)

During the 1860’s celebrating Thanksgiving & Christmas became popular on the battlefield & at the homefront. Thanksgiving, a distinctly American celebration, was designed to unify the country while giving thanks in the midst of national strife. Christmas was an attempt by soldiers & civilians alike to seek solace & security from the chaos of war through familiar European traditions. Discover how these two holidays developed & evolved during the Civil War. Learn how each was observed in different regions at home & on the battlefield.

Coordinator: Estelle Plewa Bath, Ray Krey & Nancy Chu
Class Sessions: Saturday, Nov. 6
Time: 9:30 - 11:30 am
Place: Western Illinois Museum, 201 S. Lafayette
Parking: At the site.
Maximum Enrollment: 20; Cost: $5

The Book Club (Via Zoom) 

(Enrollment: 18/20)

The We Need to Talk Book Club will give us a chance to join in conversation and connect with others. Perhaps we’ll find a new perspective, a different reality or just an enjoyable reading experience. Brief descriptions of our books for discussion are below.

  • Tuesday, Sept. 7
    Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell Hamnet is a novel inspired by the death of Shakespeare’s son. The major focus is with Shakespeare’s wife, Agnes, a strange, fiercely independent woman who is a healer, a seer, and a devastated mother who is grief-stricken. The author suggests that Shakespeare’s reaction to Hamnet’s death might have been responsible for one of the most famous plays of all time.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 5
    The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich The U.S. Government threatened the Chippewa on the Turtle Mountain Reservation with dispossession of their land in the 1950’s. The author’s grandfather’s attempt to save their way of life is one of several story lines in the novel. Erdirch is an exceptional storyteller who celebrates the cultural identity of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa and identifies joys, challenges and brutality.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 2
    Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri This unusual lyrical novel about a woman at a crossroads. The very short and beautifully written chapters subtly unveil the story of the quiet, somewhat sad, solitude of her life.

Coordinator: Connie LaRue
Class Sessions: Tuesdays, Sept. 7, Oct. 5, and Nov. 2
Time: 1 - 2:15 pm
Place:Sessions will be held on Zoom.
Parking: N/A
Maximum Enrollment: 20; Cost: $10

Ceramics Basics: Make A Cookie Tray! 

(Enrollment: 5/12)

Are you searching for a little creative therapy and looking for a fun introduction to clay? This relaxing course will focus on the basic skills needed to create a cookie tray perfect for the upcoming holiday season. No previous skills in clay are necessary, but a willingness to get a little messy is highly encouraged! Join us and create a sweet treasure for your home! Course includes clay, bisque and glaze kiln firings, and one participant made tray that will be ready for pick-up around four weeks after the course. We can’t wait to create with you!

Participants will be able to pick-up their completed work in 4 weeks after completing the course during normal Park District business hours (M-F 8:00-4:00pm).

Teaching Format: In-person Studio Course
Class Session: Thursday, November 18, 2021
Time: 6:30 -7:30 pm
Place: Macomb Park District Ceramics Studio: 1406 N. Randolph
Parking: Studio parking/entrance is located at the back of the building.
Maximum Enrollment: 12; Cost: $10

Civil War: And the War Came 

(Enrollment: 21/30)

This course in eight sessions will consider and evaluate the significant events leading up to the outbreak of our still controversial Civil War. Why did this costly war take place? Was there one single cause or a variety of causes? Could this unexpected conflict have been prevented? What do the events that took place in the pre war period tell us about our history? Is our history repeating itself? There are no required texts. The instructor strongly suggests that only those fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus register for this class.

Coordinator: Larry Balsamo
Class Sessions: Tuesdays, Aug. 24 (Canelled), 31, Sept. 7, 14, 21, 28, Oct. 5, 12 & 19 (Aug. 24 replacement date)
Time: 4:00 -5:30 pm
Place: Horrabin Hall Room 59, WIU Campus
Parking: At the site
Maximum Enrollment: 50; Cost: $20

Cooking With Harold 

(Enrollment: FULL 10/10 - Waitlist Count: 9, REGISTRATION CLOSED FOR THIS COURSE)

A combination of observation and participation with gourmet cook Harold Schmalfeld. Class I will feature Oriental style dishes. Class II will consist of savory soups for the Fall. Because of close proximity in the kitchen, it is requested that all participants be fully vaccinated.

Coordinator: Harold Schmalfeld & Patti Jones
Class Sessions: Thursdays, Sept. 30 & Oct. 7
Time: 5 - 7 pm
Place: TBD
Parking: At the site
Maximum Enrollment: 10; Cost: $10

Create the Ever-Changing Workout! 

(Enrollment: 6/20)

Would you like to be able to create your own home workout? Join Kristen Conrad from Make Fit Happen to learn how to put together a well balanced workout that can be changed as needed to create variety. Both sessions will contain the same content. Register for one session

Coordinator: Kristin Conrad
Class Sessions: Tuesdays, Sept. 7 & 21
Time: 2-3 p.m.
Place: Make Fit Happen, 1208 N. Lafayette
Parking: At the site
Maximum Enrollment: 20; Cost: $5

Flexibility 101 - Get Ready to Feel Better! 

(Enrollment: 6/15)

Can’t touch your toes? Does everything feel TIGHT? No problem! Join Dawn Piper, Certified Yoga Therapist with the International Association of Yoga Therapists for a series of movements to help you stretch your body and feel so much better! No yoga experience is needed. Bring a mat. Other helpful props are a yoga strap, blocks, and a blanket if you have them.

Coordinator: Dawn Piper
Class Sessions: Wednesday, September 15
Time: 5:15pm – 6:00pm
Place: Free Range Yoga - South Wing - 118 N Lafayette St.
Parking: At the site
Maximum Enrollment: 15; Cost: $5

The Greatest Concert Movies of All-Time: Part 1 

(Enrollment: 26/40)

Forget Woodstock! Sit back, relax and enjoy two outstanding concert films, each featuring some of the finest musicians ever assembled on a single stage. The TAMI Show, filmed in glorious black and white just eight months after The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan, introduced rock n’ soul youth culture to America in the first concert movie of the rock era. The music and fun explode off the screen in this 1964 film, which features The Rolling Stones, James Brown, The Supremes, The Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson, Lesley Gore, and many other American and British hit-makers in their prime. Jazz on a Summer’s Day, filmed in 1958 at the Newport Jazz Festival, is a feast for both the eyes and ears—whether or not you’re a jazz fan. Gracing the stage are Louis Armstrong, Mahalia Jackson, Thelonious Monk, Big Maybelle, a very young Chuck Berry, and many other legends who knew how to entertain an audience as well as create terrific music. Background, opinions and memories will be offered for each film—and class participation, along with popcorn consumption, is wholeheartedly encouraged!

Coordinator: Bill Maakestad
Class Sessions: Mondays, Sept. 20 & 27 NOTE: This is a date change from the brochure. 
Time: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Place: Spoon River College Community Outreach Center, 2500 E. Jackson
Parking: At the site
Maximum Enrollment: 40; Cost: $10

How to Meditate: An Introduction 

(Enrollment: 8/12)

If you have the time and desire for peace and quiet, you can learn to meditate! In this introductory-level class, Bill Maakestad—instructor at Free Range Yoga & Community Wellness Center—will provide guidance through simple forms of meditation that anyone can master. In recent decades, medical science has confirmed that meditation, correctly practiced, can offer deep and lasting benefits for mental functioning and emotional health, as well as physical health and well-being. Comfortable, loose clothing recommended.

Coordinator: Bill Maakestad
Class Sessions: Wednesday, Sept. 15
Time: 6:30 – 7:45 p.m.
Place: Free Range Yoga & Community Wellness Center—South Wing, 188 N. Lafayette St.
Parking: At the site
Maximum Enrollment: 12; Cost: $5

Iberian Jews and the Spanish Inquisition 

(Enrollment: 18/20)

Historically distant in our imagination, the Inquisition was the most traumatic episode for Iberian Jews until the horrible events of the Second World War. This class – with no pretension to be scholarly sophisticated – is an exploration of how the Spanish Inquisition, its actions and methods, affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iberian Jews and, later, crypto-Jews, especially during the 16th and 17th centuries, in Europe and beyond.

Coordinator: Luciano Picanco
Class Sessions: Wednesday, Oct. 27
Time: 1:30 - 3 p.m.
Place: Spoon River College Community Outreach Center, 2500 E. Jackson
Parking: At the site
Maximum Enrollment: 20; Cost: $5

Lakeview Nature Area Guided Tour with a Taste of Honey! 

(Enrollment: 12/20)

Join us for a relaxing and educational 45 minute tour through the Macomb Park District’s Lakeview Nature Area! This outdoor tour will explore the history, biodiversity, and the new additions to the Nature Area. This tour will also include a stop at the Lakeview Nature Area Community Apiary and we’ll even offer a taste of 2021 harvested honey! We’re excited to share the beautiful ecosystems and seasonal changes that make this landscape so magical! We encourage you to wear comfortable walking shoes and weather appropriate clothing. We can’t wait to see you in the prairie!

Coordinator: Natalie Shelly
Class Sessions: Friday, Oct. 8
Time: 4:00- 4:45 p.m.
Place: Lakeview Nature Area: 10050 N 1500th Rd, Macomb, IL
Parking: At the site
Maximum Enrollment: 20; Cost: $5

On Looking 7 

(Enrollment: 9/15)

This course involves walking a path on the WIU campus with various experts who will highlight sounds and sights along the way. The class is loosely based on the book “On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes,” by Alexandra Horowitz, which describes how taking a walk with a variety of people opened her eyes and allowed her to see her surroundings in a new way. We will walk somewhere between a half mile and one mile.

Coordinator: Paula Wise, coordinator; Ed Franks, ornithologist; Morris Vos, tree specialist; Leslie Melim, geologist; and Ted Renner, deputy director of WIU’s Facilities Management.
Class Sessions: Tuesday, Sept.21 (Rain date: Tuesday, Sept. 28)
Time: 10 - 11 a.m.
Place: Meet in front of Sherman Hall.
Parking: At the site. (A no-ticketing request will be submitted to WIU’s Parking Services)
Maximum Enrollment: 15; Cost: $5

Paint Your Own Pottery 

(Enrollment: 2/25)

Pick out pottery from over 200 options and over 50 paint color choices. Pottery is pre-fired bisque ready to paint with specialized glaze. Pieces will be fired and ready for pickup in about a week. The cost of the pottery is not included in the price of class and will vary from $2-$40. Please come prepared to pay for your piece on the day of the class.

Coordinator: Laci Todd
Class Sessions: Tuesday, Nov. 9
Time: 11 a.m.
Place: The Crafty Coop, 206 N Lafayette
Parking: At the site.
Maximum Enrollment: 25; Cost: $10 plus cost of pottery

Red Skelton Visits Macomb & His Pledge of Allegiance Words 

(Enrollment: 14/40)

Red Skelton visited Macomb on 3 occasions. This program will highlight his visits with pictures and stories. Also a history of his life and professional acting on television & in films will be offered.

Coordinator: Tom Stites
Class Sessions: Wednesday, October 20
Time: 1 - 1:45 p.m.
Place: Spoon River College Community Outreach Center, 2500 E. Jackson
Parking: At the site.
Maximum Enrollment: 40; Cost: $5

Social Media…..Web Pages….So Many Choices 

(Enrollment: 11/15)

Learn what is currently being used for all ages to communicate and the basics on how to setup and where to get help. What do I want to use and why….Web page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Hangouts, Facetime, Zoom, Snapchat, Tik-Tok? We will explore which device works best…. smart phone, tablet or PC. The first class will be exploring what is available and the second class will be basic setup and where to get help.

Coordinator: Brenda Allison
Class Sessions: Tuesdays, Oct. 12 & 19
Time: 9 - 10:30 a.m.
Place: Spoon River College Community Outreach Center, 2500 E. Jackson
Parking: At the site.
Maximum Enrollment: 15; Cost: $10

Yoga for Better Balance – Chair based 

(Enrollment: 14/15)

Worried about falling? Concerned about your balance? Is it getting harder to walk? Dawn Piper, Certified Yoga Therapist with the International Association of Yoga Therapists will teach you a variety of exercises to help you improve the strength of your legs, glutes, and core so you’ll feel more stable. No yoga experience is needed. Chairs will be used – we will not get down on the floor for this yoga class.

Coordinator:Dawn Piper
Class Sessions: Tuesday, Sept. 7
Time: 11:30 am - 12:15 pm
Place: Free Range Yoga - South Wing, 118 N Lafayette St.
Parking: At the site.
Maximum Enrollment: 15; Cost: $5


Due to a change in policy, PayPal will no longer be refunding the transaction fee when course registration fees are refunded due to canellations. However, depending on who makes the cancellation, there will be instances in which the transaction fee will be refunded. When a course is cancelled by the LIFE Organization or Instructor, the PayPal Transaction Fee will be refunded. When a course is cancelled by the LIFE Registrant, even if the cancellation comes within the 30 Day current cancellation policy deadline, the PayPal Transaction Fee will not be refunded.



The LIFE organization is grateful to our sponsor, Western Illinois University's Study Abroad and Outreach Office, and the following community partners and individuals who are committed to providing lifelong learning opportunities for area residents:

Bill Maakestad

Brenda Allison

Connie LaRuer

Free Range Yoga

Harold Schmalfeld

Larry Balsamo

Make Fit Happen

Patti Jones

Spoon River College Community Outreach Center

Steve Hopper

Ted Renner

Tom Stites

Western Illinois Museum

Western Illinois University