Margot Schneider is 89 years old. She and her husband Horst came out of Germany after WWII with three kids and 17 cents in his pocket. Margot is nearly deaf and Horst is nearly blind. “Well, between the two of us, we are a whole person.” she jokes. Margot says their philosophy of life is “Do no harm to yourself, to others, or to any living thing.” Margot has a special gift with animals and birds. They seem to recognize immediately she will never hurt them.
Horst, at 92, has magnifying glasses all over the house. He uses a computer program called Dragon made by Nuance. It recognizes his voice and types for him. Then it has a reader to read it back to him to make sure he didn’t get misunderstood and typed in loose for juice, or some such. Horst is currently writing a book, and has approximately 200 poems and small short stories on his web site. (He used to build websites for companies at one time.)
He got his start in America by working as a mail-sorter for an insurance company. Before a year had passed, he was working in their accounting department.
He is a self taught computer programmer and built a program for Margot’s knitting business. They had five knitting machines that he programmed for specific garments that she sold. Now, she knits beautiful sweaters, vests and scarves for her grand kids and great grand kids by hand. Horst has met and worked with some of the famous programmers from Apple and Microsoft. He has technical articles published that are now out of date because technology changes so quickly.
Last year, Margot fell and broke her neck. So, at 92, he learned to cook. Not hamburgers or hot dogs. He likes gourmet food and prepares boef bourgignon, French onion soup and chicken stroganoff plus German specialties they like. Now that her neck is healed, she says, “Let him cook. Its his turn.” Nothing daunts them.
When he was in his eighties, he and Margot volunteered at a State Park. Their finances took a hit and he was looking for work and had applied at Hotels and places where his ability to speak five languages would be of help. “But, they hired young blondes,” he jokes. He was about to take a job as a dishwasher at $5.15 per hour, when the Park Rangers came to him and said they wanted him to take on a ranger’s position.
“A Ranger,” he protested, “I’m too old for that.” But, it worked for everyone. He translated all of their literature and brochures into Russian and German versions. He taught rocketry to young kids and park biology to others.
Jim wanted to visit one more time with them before they move to Louisiana. (Their house in on the market.) They inspire everyone who meets them. They are the treasure, because they inspire and challenge us to live fully with verve and dignity.