Look Who’s Turning 65
December 2 – George Meegan
This incredible British adventurer walked all the way from the southern tip of South America to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Completing the walk at age 31, Meegan took his last step and “fell to his knees and wept”. That’s an astounding journey of 19,019 miles from bottom to top of the Western Hemisphere. It lasted 2,425 days and is documented in his book, The Longest Walk (1988).
His famous walk led Meegan to a lasting interest in indigenous cultures and how to teach them to thrive in modern society while retaining their unique identity. This interest led Meegan in 2014 to author Democracy Reaches the Kids, a free-thinking manifesto against compulsory education.
Meegan’s numerous records include:
- First and only journey on foot crossing South and Central America
- First and only journey on foot crossing all Latin America
- First and only journey on foot crossing from Tropic of Capricorn, through the Equator, to the Tropic of Cancer
- First and only journey on foot crossing between Equator and the Arctic Circle
- First and only journey on foot crossing entire Western Hemisphere
- Most degrees of latitude ever covered on foot (125° 08')
- First and only journey on foot connecting the Southern Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans
- ‘Longest Unbroken March of All Time’
December 2 – Carol Shea-Porter
Shea-Porter is a representative of New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district, after losing and then regaining the seat several times since 2006. Currently, she serves on the Committee on Education and Labor and the Committee on Armed Services. She’s also a member of the Progressive Congressional Caucus, but has announced she won’t run again in 2018.
Born in New York City, Shea-Porter grew up on the New Hampshire seacoast, earning a bachelor’s in social services and a master’s in public administration from the University of New Hampshire. She worked for the Wesley Clark campaign for president and volunteered for John Kerry’s presidential run.
Among her notable achievements in office, she co-sponsored a bill to protect U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan from toxic smoke created by the disposal of waste in open-air burn pits. Shea-Porter voted for the Affordable Care Act and supports a U.S. move away from oil as a primary energy source. She supports emissions trading measures and voted for the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
December 3 – Don Barnes
You may not recognize his name, but you probably remember the songs such as “Hold On Loosely,” “Rockin’ into the Night,” and “Caught Up in You.” Don Barnes is the rock vocalist and guitarist who was one of the founding members of the Southern rock band 38 Special.
Barnes was the lead vocalist on the hits listed above, as well as “If I’d Been the One,” “Back Where You Belong,” and “Like No Other Night.” In 1987, Barnes left the band after recording “Back to Paradise” that was featured in the forgettable movie Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise. The band replaced him with Max Carl. Barnes rejoined 38 Special in 1992 and has been with the band ever since.
A brief solo career produced the 1989 album Ride the Storm. It wasn’t released at the time because the record label was sold, but a lot of the top session musicians such as Jeff Porcaro and Dann Huff were featured on it, and singer-songwriter Martin Briley co-produced it. The album finally got its debut in June 2017 on MelodicRock Records.
December 6 – Craig Newmark
What would life be like without the ad-free web marketplace known as Craigslist? It’s the brainchild of Newmark, whose father died when Craig was 13, putting the family into a precarious financial position. Scholarships funded a bachelor’s and master’s degree of science, and Newmark landed a job with IBM.
After programming for 17 years, he moved to San Francisco for a job where he was introduced to the internet, which at the time had no advertising. Newmark developed Craigslist as an “internet commune” where people could come together to exchange information and use a free marketplace.
The general got a top-notch start at the United States Military Academy, graduating in the top 5 percent of his class in 1974. He then won the General George C. Marshall Award as the top graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College class of 1983. Petraeus went on to earn both an M.P.A. (in 1985) and a 1987 Ph. D. in international relations from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Now a billionaire, Newmark is still active in Craigslist customer service, outing spammers and scammers. He’s also a devoted philanthropist, operating Craigconnects to publish charitable organizations. Newmark has a special interest in services for military veterans and teachers.
December 7 – Susan Collins
Susan Collins currently serves as the senior U.S. Senator from Maine. She is considered a moderate Republican and made headlines in July when she refused to support the American Health Care Act, the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Collins has served as Chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging since 2015. She’s known for her long voting streak, reaching 6,000 consecutive votes in September 2015. Collins is also the only Republican in the Senate currently representing a state in New England.
According to third quarter 2017 senator approval rankings by Morning Consult, Collins is fourth-highest with 62% giving her a thumbs-up. (Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont ranks first). Collins has voted across party lines on many issues, including restrictions on travel to Cuba, harsher punishment for drug users, and an amendment to the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. She also joined Democrats to support campaign finance reform laws.
In August 2016 Collins announced that she would not cast a vote for Donald Trump, stating that he is unsuitable for office, “based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics.”
December 12 – Cathy Rigby McCoy
The diminutive Rigby made history as the highest-scoring gymnast on the U.S. team at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The apple-cheeked blonde with the quick smile helped to popularize gymnastics as a sport with American television audiences. Rigby was the U.S. national champion in 1970 and 1972, but injury held her back at the 1972 Olympics and she retired after not medaling at that competition.
Rigby was 20 years old and had been retired from competition for a year when she auditioned for the role of Peter Pan, which she wound up playing for more than 30 years. Her Broadway performance got her nominated for a Tony award. Rigby starred in stage and television productions.
The 99 lb. actress also hit the talk show circuit and became a public speaker about eating disorders, which she overcame after a long struggle.
Rigby’s image is included on the Voyager Golden Record in space.
December 27 – David Knopfler
Knopfler is a co-founder of the rock band Dire Straits, where he was rhythm guitarist and his older brother Mark played lead guitar.
However, Knopfler felt stressed by the constant album production and tour demands when Dire Straits became popular. He quit the band after three years to set out on a solo career, initially creating smaller record labels, publishing companies and indie labels.
Knopfler was ahead of his time, encouraging the purchase of online music sales as early as 1995. His book Bluffers Guide to the Rock Music Business was published a year later. A poetry anthology, “Bloodstones and Rhythmic Beasts”, followed in 2005.
FAMOUS & 65 is a featured article in the Senior Spirit newsletter.
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