Cape Henlopen Senior Center members and staff serenaded former director Juanita Morch with “You Are My Sunshine” as she rides off into the sunset.
The center paid tribute to Morch with a retirement luncheon March 26 to celebrate her 33 years as director. A visibly overwhelmed Morch went around the room hugging and shaking hands with the 30 to 40 members who packed into the auditorium to say goodbye.
Morch joined the center in 1979 after working as program director at the Delaware Division of Aging. She was recommended for the job by then-Mayor Marion Howard. Immediately after she joined, a capital campaign ramped up to build the center at 11 Christian St.
“I’ve been so blessed all these years to have been able to work with such a wonderful, wonderful group of people,” Morch said. When asked what her favorite part of the job was, she said, “the people.”
“We have such a wonderfully diverse membership. We have people coming from all over, New York, New Jersey. They’re young seniors, and they want to be on the move all the time,” Morch said.
When she first started, the center had about 50 members, and its classes were limited. The center now has more than 1,000 members and features a fitness and billiard room, Zumba classes, arts and crafts and yoga.
“Best center in the state of Delaware,” Morch said with pride. “And not because I was director.”
Morch said she didn’t want to retire, but she decided to do so after an arthritic left shoulder required replacement, a procedure that required six to eight months of recouperation. Morch will need a similar procedure on her right shoulder, although she said she has postponed that operation for another year.
“I couldn’t do that to my staff. They needed a director,” she said.
Morch said the decision to retire was heartbreaking, coming three months shy of her 34th year. She said she still plans to stay active with the center, taking part in the annual golf outing at The Penninsula and helping new director Leslie Boehlert.
“I’m not going to sit still a minute. This has been my whole life. The members have been absolutely wonderful,” she said. “A lot of memories.”