The YMCA, Ensuring a Brighter Future

Dick Poellinger

'Your Health is your wealth'; Y member values making friends, exercising



Dick Poellinger considers his commitment to personal fitness as not truly newsworthy. From his perspective when he’s at the La Crosse branch of the YMCA, he’s surrounded by other active members, who exercise every day with him, and he adds, they’re older than he is too.


Yet it’s easy to counter Dick’s humble assessment. He’s 82-years-old, and a quick look at statistics show that most people don’t exercise regularly, let alone those in the senior bracket. It’s a strong testament not only to the healthy environment the Y provides for all ages and abilities, but also to its members who show up regularly to dedicate the precious time to their health and well-being.


“The Y has become an important part of my day,” says Dick, who joined the Y after retirement 16 years ago. “Exercising in the morning gets the cobwebs out. I admire those people that also come here at 6:15 a.m., and then go to work. They would not miss this part of their life and the friendships, and I feel the same way.”


Y members also believe Dick is motivating. “Always pleasant and smiling, Dick is an inspiration to all, in that no matter what one’s age, it is important to exercise to remain physically, mentally, and emotionally fit,” says a Y member, who has worked out at the same time as Dick for about 10 years.


Dick appears non-stoppable. He plans to start a wholesome New Year 2015 by participating in the Y’s indoor triathlon in February. He’ll prepare for the event with his workout routine on the cardio machines in the Wellness Center.  He enjoys exercising on the elliptical machine and the treadmill, followed by a series of programs that a Y fitness trainer wrote for him. During the week, Dick alternates the personalized routines that target the upper and lower body while using the weight machines.  He compliments the program because he can do everyday chores, such as shoveling snow and yard work, and he doesn’t experiences sore or stiff muscles.


He’ll no doubt achieve his goal as he has throughout his life, step by step. He started working with Trane Company in 1951, two weeks after he graduated from Logan High School. He began as the guy who twisted bolts, but he “kept his nose to the grindstone,” climbed the corporate ladder, and retired as a plant production manager in 1997. “There came a point in my life, where I realized my health is priceless,” Dick says. “`Your health is your wealth.’ It’s a message Dick shares with other Y members, either through his word or actions. “I’ve been very fortunate,” he often says.


He remains active in the community, which also helps keep him young. Dick ushers for early morning Sunday Mass each week at St. Joseph the Workman Cathedral. In the summer, he plays golf with his group, the Wednesday Morning Swingers, and volunteers with the city’s Riverfest. He and his wife Dorothy have been married for 58 years, and together they help to deliver Meals on Wheels.


Dick earned a spot on a Freedom Flight in 2013 to Washington, D.C., through his dedicated service to his country in the U.S. Navy. He served four years during the Korean Conflict. Dick and his lifelong best friend, Bob Marco, enjoyed the trip of a lifetime together. He shared his experience with Y members through a special photo book made for him by his “guardian” on the flight. “The Y came to be, and is now a part of my life,” he says. “I’ve made some really good friends at the Y, and I value those friendships.” – by Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC