Elder Speak: Connecting Generations

Each year on Grandparent’s Day, The Ripple Foundation hosts Elder Speak at the Snowy Owl Theater in Leavenworth. This is a multifaceted event featuring the introduction of each Elder, a 10 minute sharing from them about their life experience, and an open period for your questions.

Elder Speak was created to foster a positive connection between Elders and younger generations. Elders have the opportunity to share their wisdom and realize their own value in society. They are heard, honored and supported as they share their unique life experience. By bringing together different generations, members of each generation have the opportunity to be seen as distinct individuals, far beyond the stereotype we often project onto those with whom we are unfamiliar.

On Grandparent’s Day 2015 we celebrated our first Elder Speak. We spent an afternoon with five local North Central Washington Elders, who shared their stories and wisdom in a gathering of many generations. Supported by art, film, oral history, and discussions, we began with honoring the value that each generation has to offer. Everyone has value and every life matters. Our Elders have lived experiences in different times that offer younger generations a chance to ponder a different way of looking at the present day. We explored this opportunity to get to know our Elders and deepen community.

In daily life, we invite everyone to take the opportunity to honor, share and reflect on the experiences of our Grandmothers and Grandfathers. Ask questions for which you long for an answer or understanding. Every generation’s experience contains immeasurable value, so bring your own experiences with you, too. How have Elders in your life affected you? We invite you to share your stories. 

After the program, there is an opportunity for further mingling and conversation with the Elders in the lobby as we conclude the evening with wine and hors d'oeuvres.

We invite you to join us. Refreshments and admission are by donation. Proceeds benefit Mountain Meadows Senior Living Facility in Leavenworth and The Ripple Foundation.

Click here to donate to Elder Speak.

2019 Elder Speak Participants:

Suzanne McPherson

Suzanne Tejerian was born in the midst of World War II in San Francisco.  When she was four, her parents moved to the little town of Reedley, CA, where her father had spent his childhood.  Over the years she was joined by a brother and two sisters and life on the Kings River was magical.


After securing her college education, Suzanne married John MacPherson and relocated to Cashmere, WA.  During her years in Cashmere, she and John had two sons, Eric and Brian.  She taught English and was the high school librarian. In the middle of her book-end teaching career, she served as the first woman on the Cashmere City Council and also was elected the first (and to date, the only) woman mayor in the mid 1980s.


At the age of nine, Suzanne sang the part of Clara in Werther with the San Francisco Opera Company.  She has spent most of her life using her vocal talents to raise scholarship funds as well as revenue for other philanthropy.   Her volunteer efforts are focused on education and the arts and she has served on various boards and committees that support those endeavors.


Suzanne celebrates life by nurturing relationships.  Her family and friends are her joy.  She still relishes her dining table as a favorite gathering place for multiple generations.

Everett Burts

I began life on September 25, 1931, in an old farmhouse in the Mae Valley, Grant County, Washington. My family moved to another farm located at the end of Horse Lake Road when I was almost five years old. 

My education began in the fall of 1938, when my parents enrolled me into the then-new Whitman Grade School. In 1950, I graduated from Wenatchee High School. 

Because of three mentors who paved the way and provided work, I was able to attend college, graduating with a PhD in Entomology in 1959. 

On March 1, 1958, I was hired by Washington State University as a Research Scientist, in the department of Entomology, and was stationed at the Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee. I’m lucky to have worked at a job that I truly enjoyed. I retired on April 1, 1994. 

When I started the job, synthetic pesticides were just appearing. At first it looked like Entomologists would soon be out of work; pest problems were all solved! However, agricultural pest soon showed their almost unlimited ability to resist, tolerate or avoid the poisons being used against them. We had to change our approach to one of integrated pest management, a holistic approach involving selective pesticides, horticultural practices that made trees less susceptible and augmentation of biological control. 

In 1976, my brother, Lee, and I began farming our share of the ranch. We worked the land on weekends and holidays, growing wheat. In 2001, we retired the farm, seeded all cultivated land back to native species to restore and protect soil. In 2006 we sold it to Chelan Douglas Land Trust. 

I have been an active volunteer most of my life. Giving back to the community that has been so good to me is a pleasure.

Mae Hamilton

For Mae Hamilton life began in 1928 on a remote Homestead ranch in northern Douglas County. Delivery was by ‘neighbor lady’…the experienced mid-wife of the area was too busy slaughtering her turkey’s for Thanksgiving celebrations! 

Frozen turkeys were not available!! 

Education began in Mansfield with seven or eight classmates. High school began with transfer to a boarding school in Spokane and ended with graduation from Wenatchee High School. She received a Liberal Arts degree from Washington State College (not yet a University). 

Over the span of the next sixty seven years employment varied: from U. S. Corps of Engineers, supervisory positions in retail and wholesale firms; Housewife; North Central Regional Library (as one of two employees in the fledgling Mail Order Department); Owner/operator of small retail fabric shop in Leavenworth… And lastly, a long career in Real Estate, representing properties from Stevens pass to Wenatchee. 

Moving to Leavenworth in 1976, to join the small band of Bavarian Dreamer’s, opened wide the doors of opportunity to participate in both civic and commercial growth of an openhearted community. At that time there were less than five renovated buildings on Front Street…Now there are blocks of beautiful, new authentic buildings…Then, the residential area had no paved streets, some wooden water mains, no valid survey of the town and a Short Plat of five a acre plot could be submitted on one sheet of paper with valid proof of ownership!...Then, ‘Ski Hill’ and the ‘Icicle Valley were, largely in agricultural use…Then, there were only THREE festivals a year. 

To have been a very small part of the Leavenworth area transformation; Mae would say was “a dream come true” - work and play - involved in the future 24/7. 

Who would have ever thought that leaving her tonsils at the OLD Leavenworth Hospital in 1937 would bring her back to ‘settle in’ and thrive all those years later.

Jim Wills
At an early age, I had a slight speech impediment for a short time, resulting in a shyness that I have carried throughout my life. During my early school years and because of this I favored being with my Family, Boy Scouts and activities where I could be with a group and not be on a one on one basis. In college at WSU, I met my future wife and we spent 65 years of marriage together and raised four children. Upon graduation I was employed by Zellerbach Paper Co. as a salesman in the Spokane and Moscow Idaho area for five years. Leaving this position, I wanted to create a business that I could control and be solely responsible for. I achieved success in the Drive Inn and Restaurant business for ten years and then become employed by WSU. Spending twenty five years at the University and within three different positions, I moved up the ladder of responsibility to become Director of Grant and Research Development during the last fifteen years. By being responsible, dependable, resourceful and knowing how to work, I achieved success in every endeavor attempted during my life. I have enjoyed retirement and now that I have lost my wife, I am moving on to new goals.










Thank you to 2018's Corporate Sponsors for supporting this year's event.




Additional Details

Registration Details

If you give donations to community organizations we would appriciate you thinking of us. Our mission is creating oppertunities to transform ourselves, our relationships, our community, and the world.  We can do this best with your support. Click here to donate to Elder Speak or our other programs The Ripple Foundation hosts. Thank you.



By Donation
September 8, 2019 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Icicle Center for the Arts
Snowy Owl Theatre
7409 Icicle Road
Leavenworth, WA

The Ripple Foundation, a 501(c)3 Not For Profit WA State Corporation, 2012 - 16©
Design and Production by 3Sherpas.