Bernadette Lauritzen Launches ‘Life After 50’ Series

Executive Director

“Life After 50”… a look at things to do, places to go and people to meet.

I might be the first one to tell you that life as a senior citizen starts at 50 in Los Alamos. There are different levels for different ages, but alas the cat is out of the bag. If you are 50 or over, this column will be designed to highlight volunteers, programs, events and project partners that make this community hum.

As I pondered my inaugural column for the Los Alamos Daily Post, I was certain my topic would be volunteerism. I would say the definition of volunteerism for some means you work for free, I would say in my new position as the executive director of the Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization, in other words the head of the Los Alamos and White Rock Senior Centers, is attributed to just that!

So, my choice of highlight is one lovely and talented Mary Venable. I came to know Mrs. Venable as one of the most dynamic volunteers of the United Church of Los Alamos. The church celebrated its 70th birthday last November and as I respect my elders, will leave it at that.

Mary, oversees our low vision and hearing support group, substitutes in the dining room when needed, and is one of several volunteers for our gardens and memorial trees. She has reported more than 12,000 hours at 10 different volunteer stations, associated with the Los Alamos Volunteer Association/Retired Senior Volunteer Program. She also is a passionate and compassionate neighbor.

Sarah Chandler, our Volunteer Director, describes Mary as a quiet person who looks for opportunities to recognize the contributions of others, while never needing any recognition for her many contributions. Her service seems to be driven by a sense of duty, dedication and principle. She often thinks of how something done or left undone could affect other members of the community. That awareness leads her to see service opportunities where others might not see them.

It was one of many reasons she was nominated as a Los Alamos Living treasure in the year 2000. She could also probably run circles around most of us, at any given moment. She is someone you aspire to be like because she has a drive, determination and dedication, to make the world better. You really should come meet her sometime.

If you are age 50 and above, an annual membership with LARSO, which includes both the Los Alamos and White Rock Senior Centers, is just $20 a year. We have a simple, one-page application and can avail you to all of our benefits. If you are 55 and above, your current volunteer work can benefit the mission of your local centers, just call our volunteer office to learn more, at 505.662.8923. One you reach 60, your membership fee disappears and your benefits increase greatly with a new membership form.

Check out our website at, we’d love to get to know you.

Longtime Los Alamos resident Mary Venable, far right in purple, recently at the Betty Ehart Senior Center is described as ‘a community institution with the heart of a servant’. Photo by Bernadette Lauritzen