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 Summer Residents


UMD is a Summer Home to Over 400 Seniors

One of the first things Tom and Marilyn Kelly will tell you is that there’s a lot going on in Duluth in the summer. As residents of UMD’s Summer Senior Program for the 12th year in a row, they should know. “We never run out of things to do,” said Marilyn. “We walk on the Lakewalk. We go to all kinds of concerts, at Glensheen, Chester Park, Lakeplace and Bayfront. We even go to see the music camp students give their recitals in the Weber Music Hall.”


The Kelly’s are two of about 400 seniors who come to Duluth each summer to live in the on-campus student apartments. Seniors can stay for five, eight or ten weeks at a time. The Kelly’s, who have friends and family in the area, stay for the full ten weeks. “My daughter just left, she stayed with us for a week,” Marilyn said. “Our friends from Iowa come up and stay, too. We have an extra room, and people love Duluth.”

Like about 40 of the other senior residents, Tom and Marilyn are alumni. They attended UMD in the early 60s, when Marilyn was still Marilyn Strand. “When we went to school here, we still took half the classes at Old Main,” said Tom. “There weren’t many dorms, so most of us rented houses.”

Tom graduated in 1963 with a BA in geography. Because he was sure a draft was in his future, he enlisted in the Marines. Marilyn, who had graduated in 1962 with a B.S. in English, traveled to California with Tom, but when he his posting orders came for Vietnam, she wanted to get away from California’s smog and the crowds. Marilyn made the first short-term move to Duluth. Marilyn returned to Duluth to work as a teacher in Proctor. “Tom’s folks were in Silver Bay and mine were in Beaver Bay and I wanted a support system.” Later in their lives, short Duluth stays were to become a family pattern.

Photo top: Tom and Marilyn Kelly. Photo above: The Kellys in from of the Heaney Hall apartments.

After his three year stint with the Marines, Tom and Marilyn moved to Salt Lake City for a year before Tom landed a telephone company management position in Council Bluffs, Iowa. And that’s where they been ever since. Two daughters, one son, and three grandchildren later, they still live in Council Bluffs. “That’s where we spend out fall and spring,” said Tom. They’re both retired, Tom from the telephone company, Marilyn from the public school system where she helped teachers with their curriculum planning. In the winter, the Kelly’s roam to places like San Diego, Palm Springs, or even South Padre Island. In the summer, they’re in Duluth. The Kelly’s also enjoy camping, so when their ten weeks at UMD are up, they often head north, to explore Minnesota’s campgrounds.

The decision to come every summer wasn’t hard. “At first, all our parents were living in the area, so we spent a lot of time with them. Now, only Marilyn’s mother is left,” said Tom. “She’s at Westwood, just a few blocks from here.”

“Our biggest reason for choosing Duluth was family, but it’s interesting to hear why others want to live at UMD in the summer,” said Marilyn. “The price for UMD senior housing is wonderful, so that is a huge draw. But I can’t tell you how many people rave about Duluth’s medical care. The hospital is only ten minutes from the campus and the medical facilities are excellent. Some people wait and schedule surgery for the summer. Others even go to the Mayo Clinic from here, and that facility is the best in the world.”

The Kelly’s aren’t the kind of people who stay in the room. “We just go from one enjoyable event to the next,” said Marilyn. “The welcome receptions and the trip on the Vista Cruise are some of our favorite things to do.”

“I enjoy just going to the library every day to read the papers,” said Tom. “They’ve got the Minnesota papers and the Financial Times. Marilyn checks out novels or biographies.”

“The Chancellor’s Fish Boil is one of the highlights of the summer,” said Marilyn. “We have a traditional fish soup with lake trout and red potatoes. Someone plays music. Sometimes it is UMD faculty and once one of the senior residents performed Broadway musical tunes for us.

“Because we stay the full ten weeks,” Tom said, “UMD gives us four storage containers to use for the winter. All we have to bring from Iowa are our clothes and our computer.” “UMD makes it easy for us,” said Marilyn. We get a meal card for meals in the dining center and the food court, we get a newsletter that lists a whole summer-full of events. It’s a wonderful place for us. We plan on coming back.”

For more information about summer housing at UMD see:

Written by Cheryl Riana Reitan. Posted Jun 21, 2005

Cheryl Reitan, Publications Director,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Beasy Latto,, 218-726-8830


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