August 2, 2014 - Eileen Wanders has never believed in her acting her age.
Two years ago, on a dare from her grandson, she had a blast climbing the rock wall at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.
This year, she wanted to try bungee jumping. “I thought it looked like fun, but there was too long a line,” says the 91-year-old who has come to the fly-in and convention since it was located in Rockford.
While Wanders likes airplanes, she also likes the people who come each year to Oshkosh.
She is one of 19 people teaching art classes in the craft tent throughout the week of AirVenture, said Activities Center Chairwoman Sandy Marsh. While Wanders can’t recall when she started volunteering there, she has undoubtedly taught hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of visitors to paint.
Wanders teaches classes five of the seven days of the convention. This year she had her students paint their choice of airplane in the sky.
“People love it and they come back year after year,” she says. “I’ve even had one mother who took my class come back years later with her daughter.”
She tells people that art is knowing when to quit. “If you go back and start fussing, you’ll mess it up every time.”
She’s also made friends at the craft tent. “And I love them all,” she says.
Wanders took her first painting class 40 years ago and never stopped. She still teaches painting at her Addison, Illinois, home, and has also done missionary work, sharing Scripture and her paintings in Brazil, Kenya, and other countries.
After her husband died in 2012, Wanders came back to AirVenture 2013 with her family. “But it was rough,” she says. “After 68 years ago, I do miss him.”
But she says her faith keeps her active and going. “Don’t quit,” she says. “If you do whatever you can for the Lord, it will work out.”