Elder wisdom from the perspective of the Maintenance Director

I am the Maintenance Director at Woodland Palms in Tucson, Arizona. I collect old cars including a 61 Pontiac Tempest, a 65 Dodge Stepside and a 66 GMC pickup.

1961 Pontiac Tempest
1961 Pontiac Tempest

Mr. Johnson is a resident here, and he is extraordinarily mechanically talented, but is feeling without purpose, and like he is obsolete. Little did either of us realize that he would be able to share his knowledge and wisdom with me, and both have our needs met!

Recently I ran into a snag with a cone type inline fuel filter, which also doubles as the seat for the needle valve on the carburetor. I broke the housing and it was pot metal so nearly impossible to weld, and even more impossible to find a replacement.

I shared my dilemma with Mr. Johnson, and he told me exactly how to bypass it and get it working! I was very grateful for his knowledge.

As we looked for solutions together he asked me questions about how to read schematic diagrams. He did not have this resource when he was a young man working on cars. He relished learning about schematics from me, and was impressed. If you know how to read schematics, you can pretty much fix anything! Mr. Johnson has two-lifetimes worth of experience and is always willing to let me pick his brain when needed. The act of sharing knowledge with one another was great  for both of us.

I believe that elder wisdom should be sought more often and that elders should be respected for their legacy and experience to make our country better for future generations. They are living reservoirs of history.  Ever since 1991, when I saw the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes,” I have always longed to hear and learn from the stories of the elders.  Now I get to do that every day!

I am blessed to work in a place surrounded by wise elders – where I can tap into one of the greatest untapped resources of our society.  All of us can not only learn from them, but we can provide an avenue for them to find the purpose and meaning in life that they deserve.

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. ” Albert Schweitzer


About the Author:  Zach Pettit, Maintenance Director, Woodland Palms  Assisted Living in Tucson, Arizona (Woodland Palms is part of the Compass Senior Living family.)

Zach is a Tucson native – born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. His father was a zach-pettitlocal contractor in Tucson, so Zach grew up learning the building trades from a very young age. He was a card-carrying journeyman for the Carpenters Union Local 1506 for many years. He is also an officer for the Loyal Order of Moose which is involved in many charities that benefit elders and orphans. Zach began in the assisted living industry in the 1990’s doing volunteer maintenance work at Molly’s Christian Care Home. He later went on to supervise the maintenance of four different assisted living communities before finding his home  at Woodland Palms Assisted Living. He has a great passion for helping elders and a love for being around them.

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