PAGE – A woman who played the organ at Yankee Stadium, a harpist who performed for three U.S. presidents in the White House, a stand-in for the late actor Jack Lemmon, an attorney in the Nuremburg trials after World War II, a woman who cleaned Elvis Presley’s house in Las Vegas, and a neighbor to the late Buddy Ebsen. These are just some of the most interesting people that Sydney L. Lennox met over the last 43 years working in nursing homes and in assisted living facilities.
Now, Lennox, 66, better known as “Syd,” is retiring as an activities director at BeeHive Homes of Page and she is going to do some activities for herself.
“I’ve got many projects,” she said with a smile.
For more than four decades, Lennox was the director of fun at the facilities where she worked in California and here at BeeHive on Elk Road, where she planned and ran activities for the 16 residents, incorporating music, games, exercise, arts and crafts, clubs and other activities.
“… recreational, educational, physical-type activities to help maintain residents at their optimal level,” Lennox explained. “That’s basically what being an activity director is. Of course, the staff pitching in, too.”
Lennox was first drawn to her profession in 1975 and later became a certified activity professional after taking the credentialing exam in The Golden State.
“And I worked in California for three years in skilled nursing facilities,” Lennox said. “Then we moved here (where) I found out that they needed someone to do activities part time (in 2005). I was semiretired then. But after 43 years I thought, ‘Ah, it’s time to retire and do some activities for myself.’”
Along the way, she says, she worked with and met many people who did amazing things, like the retired Navy admiral, the 102-year-old storyteller, the archeologist who participated in fieldwork all over the world, and the man whose son was Clint Eastwood’s stunt double.
“That just gives you an idea of just some of the interesting people I’ve worked with,” Lennox said. “It’s really been an awesome experience and I don’t think I’d change it.”
Lennox saw her role as important in preserving the quality of life for the BeeHive residents, providing them with opportunities for intellectual stimulation, physical activity and social interaction.
“Because I’ve worked here, we’ve taken the residents out into the community,” she said. “We’ve been involved in the Fourth of July parade several times, letting them ride in the cars we decorate, which they thoroughly enjoy. We’ve taken them to the Community Center to participate in their holiday celebrations and taken them around the lake and various other sites, even as far as Kanab, Utah.” Lennox says she always strived to be innovative in her approaches with a smile on her face and spreading that joy on a daily basis.
“I’ve done everything from taking residents to Disney Land to doing parties, exercises, (playing) Bingo, Bongo––” Lennox said, “mentally stimulating activities …. You name it, we just about done it. But I tried to do a variety of things that they might be interested in. That’s part of the reason that we have a resident council so that they can have an input and a say in what they like to do or have here.”
Working with the elderly provides many intangible rewards that one cannot discover in any other sector, said Lennox.
And what kept her motivated, she says, were the residents and her colleagues.
“I enjoyed working with all the staff … over the years,” she sighed. “But the residents are all special and they’re all interesting. They all have their own stories. They get to be like family. And when – unfortunately – you lose one, it’s really hard. And that’s what kept me going. I enjoyed the residents so much.”
She added, saying, “It’s been a pleasure. I’m going to miss them all and I promised them I’m going to come in to visit. If I don’t, I think they’ll come to hunt me down.”
Lennox was awarded the 1995 Southern California Activity Professional of the Year and the 1996 National Activity Professional of the Year.
Lennox is married to James Lennox, better known as “Skip.” They live in Greenhaven, Utah, and will continue living in the Page-Lake Powell area and will not be moving. Both of their adult children live in San Diego.