Beyond the Village – Suzi and Phil HogeBy Susan Kujawa
Pasadena Village members Suzi and Phil Hoge are long-time residents of South Pasadena. After volunteering at a school during college, Suzi became a teacher, and eventually a school principal in the Pasadena Unified School District. She has also acted as a school administrator in both the Pasadena and Glendale districts.
Phil’s roots to the community go way back to his 1972 graduation from Blair High School. Phil and Suzi met at the University of the Pacific, where Phil was studying law. They married, and Phil became a lawyer while Suzi began her teaching career. When Phil became disenchanted with the adversarial nature of his profession, he was inspired by Suzi to go into education. He ended up back in the Pasadena Unified School District, teaching history at John Muir High School until he retired.
Phil and Suzi raised their three daughters in South Pasadena. Their oldest daughter, Laura, followed her parents’ career path and is now a Special Education pre-school teacher in San Diego. Their middle daughter, Karen, who has Down’s syndrome, works two days a week at Kidspace, and volunteers one day a week at Descanso Gardens. Suzi explains: “One of the benefits of being rooted in this area, is that there are lots of available resources”.
The youngest daughter, Jeanine, left the nest, eventually settling in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a solar planner; she draws up the electrical plans for solar panels installed throughout the world. It was in South Africa that she met the woman who became her wife. Phil traveled, during the pandemic, across the globe to attend her wedding. Explains Phil, “I wasn’t going to miss that wedding!”
Travel was on Phil’s agenda when he began thinking of retirement. Unfortunately, he retired at the beginning of the COIVD-19 pandemic, and had to put his travel plans on hold. However, he made good use of his time in South Pasadena. He joined the South Pasadena Kiwanis Club, whose mission is to provide leadership and growth among children of all ages. He also stays connected to Muir High School as a volunteer. And now, three years after he retired, he and Suzi are finally going on their long-delayed cruise of the British Isles.
Suzi retired from work in 2015, but, like Phil, she quickly immersed herself in her community. She became a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a women’s educational sorority. She joined the Pasadena Civitan Club, a 93-year-old service club whose main goal is to promote employment of people with disabilities. And she still works occasionally as a coach for new principals.
It was through Civitan that Suzi learned about Pasadena Village. Suzi was interested in having the Civitan Club host a table at last May’s inaugural Older Adults Information Fair at Jackie Robinson Center. As a result, she met the Village's Executive Director Katie Brandon, who was chair of the event. Suzi says, “I visited the Pasadena Village table during the Fair and that planted the seed. We finally joined the Village in September.”
Both Suzi and Phil became quickly involved in Village activities. Suzi joined the Book Club, the urban walkers group, and Easy Walkers. In addition, she is helping to plan the Village Visitors program. Phil, the history buff, enjoys the Great Decisions discussion group, and is also involved in the Men’s Time brunch and the neighborhood gatherings.
So why did they join the Village? Phil explains some of his reasons for joining: “I’ve found a stimulating group of people at different stages of their lives. We still lead very active lives, but we know things change. It’s nice to make connections with people who are at different stages. I’m happy to help others, to be of service. And I also feel I’m learning from others.”
Suzi adds, “Phil and I have had many frank discussions about growing older. We both feel it is important, as a couple, to have separate activities. One of us will die first, that is a fact. So we want the other one to have supportive connections. We have both seen examples of a partner being adrift after their loved one is gone. We don’t want that to happen to us.”
Pasadena Village is happy to welcome Suzi and Phil into our community. They are contributing to the Village in many ways and are reaping the rewards of membership in their own lives.