The Living Histories of Athens: Rosemary Woodel

Rosemary Woodel was interviewed by Paige Chambers via Zoom.

Rosemary Woodel was born in Philadelphia, where she went on to work at Temple University. At 35, she moved to Miami and worked for the University of Miami as an adjunct instructor in family medicine. When she came to Georgia she worked as an office manager for multiple departments, such as anthropology and zoology. In retirement, she has been on the board of the Brooklyn Cemetery, played in a ukulele band, completed the Certificate in Native Plants at the State Botanical Gardens, and has been a big part of OLLI@UGA: the Osher LifeLong Learning Institute at the University of Georgia. She has taken a variety of classes on music, the Gospel Pilgrim Cemetery, Linnentown, and belonged to an OLLI memoir group.

During the beginning of COVID-19, she made a movie of herself being three different people on a Zoom meeting to play for the group as a memoir for living in COVID times. Someone saw it and asked her to make one for OLLI because they were having trouble getting people to sign up for virtual classes. After that, she was asked to make another one. She also figured out a way to continue ukulele classes; she found an app that allowed up to nine people who are not close to each other to record themselves and put it together.

She said, “I had to pray to download that app…please give me the strength to do this because I wanted to use it.” She expressed the importance of retaining one’s creativity during COVID by saying “The thing that I did to keep myself alive as a creative person was to watch movies, to make movies, to continue to be a photographer, to learn music…I’ve been playing around with different kinds of art than I normally do…And I’ve written a couple of songs and made recordings of them. I have worked on movies that had three different me’s, wearing different outfits with different personalities. That’s being creative in ways that I normally wouldn’t have been.”

While she acknowledged that there were certain levels of difficulty beyond which she don’t want to go. She added, “There are things that you can’t get done unless you have some willingness to use new technology.” She even has a YouTube channel!

In addition to technology and art, Ms. Woodel has used COVID-19 as an opportunity to explore other areas of interest. She reads a lot and gets news from about 9 different sources every morning. She attributes her resiliency to looking for the silver lining…being resilient the best that you can be by being willing to embrace change.

– Interviewed by Paige Chambers

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