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Paul Collins and Denise BridgensAfter a long career in the technology field, Paul Collins decided to retire with his wife, Denise Bridgens, to Lewes, Delaware in 2011. It didn’t take long for them both to settle into their new community and learn about the opportunities they now had, including access to the University of Delaware’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). 

“We looked at the OLLI course catalog and found many topics that were interesting, so we were excited to get involved,” said Denise. “We saw right away that the quality of the instructors, their knowledge, and the enthusiasm of all of the students was impressive.”

One of the first courses in which Paul enrolled was classic and current fiction about the American West taught by Margo and Gary Ramage. “Gary is an outstanding presenter and demonstrated his knowledge and the preparation he had done for the class,” Paul recalled. “I was hoping he would teach another course on private detective fiction, but since he wasn’t as familiar with the genre, he suggested I teach the class. The following year I offered my first course, ‘The Private Detective in American Fiction.’”

Attending classes at OLLI led to new opportunities, new friendships, and new roles beyond the curriculum.  In addition to teaching and taking courses, Paul became a council member for the Sussex Council and currently serves as executive secretary of the Kent/Sussex Council.

Denise also found new ways to expand her OLLI experiences. She particularly enjoyed a class on beekeeping, so she and other classmates explored the topic more deeply through research and by forming a grassroots organization that now teaches others the importance of healthy bee colonies in their communities. This organization, the Lewes Beekeeping Club, of which Denise is a founding member, maintains five apiaries throughout southern Delaware.

Their engagement at OLLI sparked a desire to give back to the program to ensure others can benefit from the same enriching experiences they have enjoyed. As part of OLLI-Lewes fundraising campaign, “Expanding Horizons,” Paul and Denise made a multi-year pledge to help improve the facilities, equipment and resources at the local facility and included OLLI in their estate plans. With their planned gift, they are now recognized as members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Legacy Society. 

"While we were reluctant in these uncertain times to make a large financial donation, we are certain that OLLI is important enough that including a donation in our will made sense,” Paul said. “If OLLI is important to you—the intellectual stimulation, the social interaction, and the fun of new experiences—then consider putting OLLI in your will. By doing so, your legacy will help propel OLLI into the future.” 

To learn more about how to establish your own legacy at the University or through one of its OLLI campuses, please email, or call 302-831-3822.