'Life' expo for aging offers up services, 'Brady Bunch' star
By Alex Green,Times/Free Press/MCTCHATTANOOGA --California is an awful long way away, and Kathy Gordon thinks she may never get there in her lifetime. That's tough, because most of the stars of her favorite show, “The Brady Bunch,” live out that way.
August 26, 2013, 10:51 pm TWN
But around a month ago, Gordon saw an ad for “Life: an Expo for Boomers and Seniors” in her morning newspaper. And the ad said Florence Henderson — Carol Brady — was going to be the celebrity speaker.
“I said, 'I've got to go!'” the Chattanooga resident said Saturday.
She presented a “Brady Bunch” purse bought at Northgate Mall four years ago to Florence Henderson to sign Saturday. Afterward, she remembers what most others did after meeting the 79-year-old superstar.
She's so small. She's so sweet. She's funny!
Times Free Press Marketing Manager Lyndsi Lane said Saturday that hosting Henderson was an absolute win for the event.
“It was a joy to have Florence Henderson in Chattanooga. She was everything we thought she would be and more.”
Henderson anchored the “Life” expo Saturday aimed at area baby boomers and seniors. In an exclusive interview with the Times Free Press, Henderson said her perennial success is the result of old-fashioned hard work and empathy.
“I have always tried to keep a clear head and a warm heart and a very high work ethic,” she said.
“It's all about trust and honesty,” even in a business famous for its dog-eat-dog politics.
Henderson wove her Catholic faith into the speech she gave to the expo crowd.
She spun stories of her life, with its poor beginnings as the daughter of a Depression-era sharecropper, through a nervous audition for the famed Broadway composers Rodgers and Hammerstein and touching on 22 years as the spokeswoman for Wesson cooking oil — good for more than frying chicken, apparently.
Henderson said as a senior in today's world, she sees some benefits and some things that simply bug her.
“I really wish advertisers would be more aware of our age group,” she said. Today's television programming caters to middle-aged and young adults, she said; more and more, TV for older Americans is disappearing.
But things aren't all bad. Henderson said during her short time in Chattanooga — Saturday was her first-ever visit — she met a man who is 90. Finding people that age and older is a growing trend, she said, thanks to better medical technology and increased awareness of disorders and diseases.
Some of those benefits were displayed Saturday by “Life' expo vendors. LifeCare Centers of America, a Cleveland-based chain of assisted living, rehabilitation and nursing home facilities, had eight area locations represented and three free tests available: blood pressure, balance and cognitive memory.
“We're here to be a service,” said Ginger Crawford, Ooltewah facility representative.
Other health service providers such as HealthSpring and Beltone were on hand with advice on matters from hearing aids to Medicare Advantage counseling. There were also games, products for sale and dozens of other area businesses offering everything from funeral service advising to cable TV packages.
“The attendees enjoyed visiting the vendor booths, participating in important health screenings, fun activities and all the live entertainment,” Lane said Saturday afternoon.