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Active life keeps Radcliff septuagenarian young

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Music, dancing, singing among Alma Hahn’s passions

By Robert Villanueva

An active life seems to keep Alma Hahn young at 75.

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The substitute teacher sings in a woman’s chorus, gives piano lessons and in the past 15 years had a stint teaching English in China and participated in mission trips to Germany, Taiwan and Brazil.

“I just think the Lord has answered so many of my prayers,” the Radcliff resident said.

A proponent of good nutrition, Hahn and her husband, William, 76, still ride bicycles.

“We don’t take any medications,” she said.

A librarian by training, Hahn came to Kentucky when William got a job as a statistician on the Armor and Engineer Board at Fort Knox in 1974.

The two met at the University of Minnesota summer school during a Monday night student union folk dance.

“We square danced, he walked me home and the rest is history,” Hahn said, laughing.

The two were married in June 1962.

Since arriving in Kentucky, Hahn has taught basic English skills and test-taking strategies during time in Germany as well as teaching seminary there. Seminary, as practiced by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, involves faith-based instruction for high school students from their freshman through senior years.

“I continued to teach seminary when I got back here,” she said.

From 1998 to 2000, Hahn went on a mission trip to Germany. From 2000 to 2001 as part of the Kennedy Center for International Studies China Teacher’s Program, Hahn was an English instructor for 18 months in China.

“The students had never had a native speaker,” she said.

Hahn said the hearts of the people were good and called the visit “a good experience.”

“We visited the Great Wall at least three times,” she said.

One of the things Hahn recalled about the visit was seeing a man in a harness pulling a load of coal down the street. The severe air pollution also was notable.

“We could hardly ever see the sun,” Hahn said.

While in China, she learned how to speak some Mandarin and sign her name in Chinese, things she has since mostly forgotten.

“I can say ‘Thank you’ in about six languages,” she said.

In addition to her travels to Germany and China, Hahn went to Brazil from 2004-2006 and Taiwan from 2010 to 2012 on mission trips. As in all her travels to other countries, Hahn prefers to immerse herself in the culture by eating and living there and walking down the streets, as opposed to doing only what a tourist might do.

“Each one is an adventure,” she said of her mission trips and teaching stint. “Each one is a gift from the Lord.”

On those last two mission trips, she taught music as part of the Hammond Music Program, which provides keyboards to children learning hymns, playing them in church and agreeing to teach someone else.

And music is important to Hahn.

“Music is therapy,” she said.

As a member of The Heartland Fillies Chorus, a woman’s singing group, Hahn enjoys belting out songs, especially ones such as “I Believe in Music” and “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing.” The lyrics, she said, express the importance of music.

Music, singing and dancing bring her the most joy out of life, she said.

Because Hahn had materials from the music program missions and has a piano in her home, she has taught piano free to children who attend the church. She teaches them how to play hymns, as she did on the mission trips.

“I can match up music to their level,” she said. “That’s my strength.”

Though Hahn and her husband are the parents of five grown children, they also have been foster parents. They currently have an 11-year-old foster child who Hahn calls “a perfect match” for them.

“That’s been a blessing, too,” Hahn said.

William noted his wife’s enthusiasm and ability to “build people up” as prominent personality characteristics. Additionally, he said, she has a strong conviction that drives her to accomplish things.

“We just got to get at it and do it,” he said.

Still a substitute teacher with Hardin County Schools, Hahn said she enjoys learning along with the students she teaches and feels expressed gratitude for the opportunities she’s shared with her husband.

“It’s just all been a blessing to us,” she said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743
or rvillanueva@ thenewsenterprise.com.

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