This Month’s Inspiring Story
Mary Jane Alexander is 87 and Going Strong
Bender JCC member Mary Jane Alexander says that as a child, she was “the most uncoordinated, un-athletic kid” who couldn’t jump rope or ride a bike. But in those days, she recalls, girls were not encouraged to be involved in athletics.
More than making up for lost time, Mary Jane, 87 years old, takes a Pilates class once a week and also comes to the Bender JCC five days a week to work out. On two of those days, she works with trainer Pete Matthews.
Ice skating always fascinated Mary Jane, so she took it up at age 50 when she moved to the DC area from Texas in 1968. “I was the ‘old lady’ with all the little kids taking lessons,” she laughs. She later took private lessons, then became an ice dancer.
When Mary Jane gave up ice skating at age 81, she was looking for another activity to take its place.
Enter the Bender JCC.
Mary Jane had friends who belonged to the Center, but she didn’t realize non-Jews could join (Mary Jane isn’t Jewish) until she came to an open house about six years ago.
“This feels like home,” Mary Jane remembers thinking when she attended the open house. She joined on the spot.
When her daughter suggested that she might benefit from weight training, Mary Jane began training with Pete. She says she knew right away that Pete knew what he was doing. “He’s analytical, and makes sure I’m doing each exercise the right way.”
Mary Jane holds a bachelor of music from North Texas State University and a masters in music theory from Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. She played clarinet professionally until the age of 40, including performances with the San Antonio Symphony and various chamber music groups.
Enter the Bender JCC, again. Upon joining, Mary Jane was made aware of the Center’s Polinger Artists of Excellence Concert Series, now in its 47th season of offering our community magnificent chamber music performed by rising stars and renowned artists. Mary Jane enjoys attending these concerts, another way to maintain a healthy way of living.
When Mary Jane moved here from Texas, she taught music for Montgomery County Public Schools for 26 years. Now technically “retired,” Mary Jane teaches piano lessons five days a week to a roster of 22 students.
Training with Pete and working out at the Bender JCC have changed Mary Jane’s life in a good way, she reflects. “It has made me much stronger. I am able to function better in life.”
Mary Jane also comments on how important it is to stay involved with people, which she has the opportunity to do at the Bender JCC. “I love the atmosphere, just being here, meeting friends. The people I interact with are super nice,” Mary Jane relates. “I feel very comfortable here.”