Retiree keeps busy volunteering, playing bridge
Cliff Needham left his career as a financial planner and retired to Fox Chapel, settling on Windmere Drive and charting anything but a leisurely retirement.
Although there were few positives spread about the Pittsburgh area,the Needhams were surprised by it. Cliff’s wife, Katharine “Kit” Needham, prompted his move by accepting a position with Mellon Financial.
“Pittsburgh gets a bad rap from people who don’t know it,” Needham said.
His biggest surprise wasn’t just the natural beauty of the area, but thepeople.
“It’s how well we were accepted,” he said.
Needham did his part to get involved, too, by calling various volunteer programs and checking them out. Now, he gives his time to UPMC St. Margaret and to the Pittsburgh Zoo.
“It’s easy to volunteer. Every place wants you,” Needham said.
In fact, when Needham had to switch positions at St. Margaret, thehospital quickly found another venue for his free services.
Needham wheeled patients from their rooms to therapy.
“Everyone one them is in the process of getting better,” Needham said,which is one of the reasons he enjoyed the service. Another reason wastalking with the patients.
“We’re encouraged to interact,” he said.
Needham enjoys “horsing around” with the those stuck in the hospital.
Unfortunately, the retiree experienced back problems and moved to a new position at the outpatient desk.
Since last week, Needham has been training for the “three differentdrills” at the desk which helps as many as 150 people each morning. For Needham the “relatively complex” requirements of the position keep his mind active. He was used to intellectual work.
Before his stroke seven years ago, Needham was a busy financial planner inWashington D.C. He had the stroke in church but finished ushering theservice, he admits sheepishly.
“I’m a very lucky man. It had a happy ending,” Needham said.
After his stroke, he spent the one year in “fairly intensive therapy” –speech, physical and occupational. His recovery let him keep up his busyschedule.
At the Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, he works as a docentescorting tour groups and also setting out artifacts on a ‘touch table.’
Docents at the zoo must meet difficult standards. Needham started with a class of 60 volunteers. After 60 hours of formal training and a written final, only 22 graduated.
When he wants to relieve stress, he turns to playing cards. He played bridge for more than 20 years, but when he moved to Pittsburgh he got involved in duplicate.
Now, the retiree has steady bridge partners and plays cards about threetimes a week. He is on the road to earning a life masters designation.
Name: Clifford G. ‘Cliff’ Needham.
Hometown: Fox Chapel.
Family: Wife, Katherine (‘Kit’); daughter Lauren, 18.
Pet: Lindy, ‘mostly a golden retriever.’
Favorite vice: Eating.
Favorite food: Anything with tofu.
Dream vacation: Cruise to the Aegean.
Stress reliever: Food and bridge.
Football team: Redskins followed by the Steelers.
Favorite TV: ‘The West Wing’ and ‘Law & Order.’
Goal: Become a life master with the American Contract Bridge Association.