Judie VanCleave

Devoted to Lifelong Learning

udie VanCleave heads up an organization that supports a remarkable group of people. As president of Lifelong Learning of Hilton Head Island, Judie is passionate about living life to the fullest. Her philosophy matches the mission statement of the non-profit organization perfectly. She believes the quest for knowledge is not bound by age, but is enhanced through life experiences and the sharing of ideas. Judie pointed out, "There's always time to explore or learn something new from someone who you didn't know had a wealth of knowledge on a subject." 

With the help of eight to ten volunteer board members, Judie has enlivened the Lifelong Learning of Hilton Head Island for the past three years. LLHHI is one of over 300 such learning institutes throughout the country for working and retired adults, both residents and visitors. It is a special community of like-minded men and women who have a broad range of lifetime experiences to share and a desire to learn what others know. They are dedicated, out-going people who quickly become friends because their desire for learning has not ceased.

Judie's assembly of learning enthusiasts currently includes more than 400 people, all of whom are happy to pay a yearly membership fee of $30 in addition to the cost of tuition. LLHHI's spring semester runs for four weeks and costs $35. The fall/winter semester runs for six weeks and costs $45. "It's quite a bargain," Judie said. "Members can take one, or twenty classes, the cost is the same." 

Courses do not necessarily emanate from an instructor's professional life, although that is the case with Professor Randall Walton whose literature discussions have been very popular on Hilton Head for over a decade (Walton happens to be Emeritus Professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University.) Classes often originate from someone's passion or deep interest in a hobby and vary from creative cooking, current events, archeology, classical music, writing, and portraits of notable historical figures. Most classes are held once a week either in the morning or afternoon, and a few are held on Saturday mornings.

Along with curriculum committee members, Judie makes sure attendees have comfortable, well-equipped classrooms that are conveniently located all over the island; The Seabrook, The Cypress, TidePointe, Wachovia Bank, Palmetto Electric, Sea Pines Community Center, and Port Royal Clubhouse, for example. "Only a few classes take place in Bluffton. We do offer courses that involve the occasional field trip," Judie said. "Request a catalog or visit our website to find out the details."

Judie and husband Jim work hard to publish a first-rate LLHHI catalog each spring and fall. Jim, a former VP of Media and Programming and thirty-seven year veteran of Proctor & Gamble, has presented three popular film courses; Classic Hollywood Musicals, Grace Kelly - American Princess, and An Introduction to Film Noir. Judie finds that she still loves to dabble with artwork, and therefore, has taken a painting class here and there.
"I work with an amazing group of people, which is good because I can't cut salaries or fire anyone. We're all volunteers!" Judie said smiling. To become an instructor, you must come recommended and then have lunch with a board member. Or, you can submit a proposal at www.LifelongLearningHHI.org. Whenever possible, the organization supports local charities with donations going to PEP, Literacy Volunteers, and Heroes on Horseback.

Good news. Judie and her cohorts are adamantly against homework. However, if you sign up for a literature discussion class, then the assignment of reading before coming to class would be acceptable. Lastly, Judie recommends the upcoming fall Saturday lecture series titled "Women in Espionage." It's not too early to sign up. Call LLHHI now at (843) 842-8250. 

Up Close

Grew up: Outside Philadelphia
Moved here from: Cincinnati, OH
Degree: Fine Arts, BA, Ohio Wesleyan University
Worked for: Bloomingdale's in NYC
Family: Husband Jim, daughter Beckley, sons Bill and Chris
Favorite US city: SantÈ Fe, NM
Favorite European city: Toss up between Istanbul and Venice