Bob Duea is a board member of Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center and he and his wife Marilyn are especially fond of the Center’s Third Chapter retreats. Bob says, “I’m living the third chapter of my life, trying not to miss a beat, and at the same time, just simply being myself without the pressure of earlier years.” He adds, “Marilyn was a school music teacher for thirty-two years and stays engaged in community music. For the past ten years, she has led a 150 voice choral group in Sun City Grand.”
Asked to describe Third Chapter retreats, Bob said, “They are about rejuvenation, not retirement.” The retreats attract people who are exploring how to live fulfilling lives after challenging careers and raising families. Inspiring retreats are designed to help people discover satisfying ways to use their abilities and time. The focus is on spiritual well being in all areas of life.
Bob retired in 2002 after 17 years as President/CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, a large, multi-program statewide agency. “After retirement at age 62, I looked for ways to continue to use my abilities and, happily, exciting opportunities kept coming to me.”
In 2013, Bob’s friend, Dr. David Teide, past President of Luther Seminary and Chairman of the Board of Spirit in the Desert, asked Bob to join the board. Bob said, “The Center had a good reputation providing wonderful retreats, but its financial sustainability was a serious question.” After strong action on expenses and a major effort in sales over the past 24 months, the Center is more than surviving. We have to thank many people: employees, board members, program leaders, and financial contributors who are committed to its vision.”
By redefining the traditional idea of retirement, Bob has been able to use his talents to serve human service agencies providing interim leadership, CEO search services, and consultation. In 2015, when Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest asked him to step in as interim director and lead a search for a new CEO, Bob said, “Yes, I’ll do it.” Eight months later the agency was re-energized and had a new CEO. Other agencies have benefited from Bob’s availability including, the Alliance for Children and Families, Ways to Work, and ASU’s Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation.
When asked about Spirit of the Desert Retreat Center’s future, Bob said, “I see the Center continuing to grow as a retreat center and adding a research component to design even more effective tools and opportunities for our bulging older population. As we gain financial strength we will be able to make Spirit’s retreats available to more people with limited financial resources. This is God’s work and I want to be a part of it.”