William L. (Bill) Randall is a retired Professor of Gerontology at St. Thomas University (STU) on Canada’s Atlantic coast. Brought up in rural New Brunswick, he holds an A.B. from Harvard College, a Th.M. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and M.Div. and Ed.D. degrees from the University of Toronto.
After a ten-year career as a protestant minister with the United Church of Canada (1979-1989), he taught English and Adult Education for four years at Seneca College in Toronto. In 1995, he began a 27 year career at STU where he taught a range of undergraduate courses in gerontology and helped to pioneer a unique approach to the study of aging known as narrative gerontology. Narrative gerontology blends insights from the humanities and social sciences to probe the complex dynamics of inner (or biographical) development in later life.
Bill has given keynotes, papers, and workshops on this approach at conferences and universities in Canada, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, France, and Spain. Co-recipient of the 2009 Theoretical Developments in Social Gerontology Award from the Gerontological Society of America, Bill is founding co-editor of the Narrative Works journal, founding organizer of the Narrative Matters international conferences, and author or co-author of over 70 publications on narrative gerontology and related topics, including eight books. Among these are Reading Our Lives: The Poetics of Growing Old and The Narrative Complexity of Ordinary Life: Tales from the Coffee Shop, both published by Oxford University Press.
To learn more about Bill or his publications, please visit his website at williamlrandall.com
Barbara Lewis is a retired psychoanalyst and an Episcopal priest. Always curious about the nature, causes and meaning of people and life, she majored in Philosophy at Mt. Holyoke College and studied Philosophy at Columbia University.
She found a psychoanalyst who helped her with the underlying psychological questions and conflicts of her life. Barbara became an analyst herself, earning an M.S.W. from Columbia, and a certification from the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. She had a full-time practice of psychoanalysis in New York City for twenty years, focusing on the myriad issues and workings of psychology in human life.
Barbara and her family moved to Pennsylvania, where they lived for ten years. She had a part-time psychoanalytic practice there, and pursued a growing focus on what she saw as the underpinnings of physical/psychological life: the nature and role of the spiritual life. She trained at the Episcopal Cathedral in Philadelphia and became an Episcopal deacon, then studied at Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated with an M.Div. from the General (Episcopal) Seminary in New York City. In 1999, she was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood just prior to moving with her family to Houston, TX. She served as a parish priest there for over fifteen years before retiring. Barbara still asks questions about human life: what it is, how and why it was created, what purpose(s) it has. She continues to marvel at the challenges, the joys, and the enigmas of human beings.
W. Andrew (Andy) Achenbaum, Ph.D., is a semi-retired professor of history in the Houston, Texas Medical Center’s Consortium on Aging. He is married to co-author Barbara Lewis and is the proud father of two daughters and two grandchildren.
Achenbaum earned his B.A. in American Studies at Amherst College, an M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. in history at the University of Michigan. After learning more about the art of teaching at Canisius College and revising the core curriculum at Carnegie Mellon University, Andy served as professor of history and deputy director of the Institute of Gerontology at the University of Michigan and then became the founding dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston.
For half a century Achenbaum has been critically thinking, lecturing and writing about the meanings and experiences of old age in U.S. history. To interpret intriguing late-life continuities and to fight ageism, Andy has elaborated older Americans’ roles in reconfiguring an aging nation’s political economy, social and transgenerational policies, and (in)visibility in cultural affairs. Turning 75 in good health this year, he finds it a challenge to balance personal and professional opinions about fairy-tale wisdom and soulful aging in a deeply polarized country.
Achenbaum has published six books, co-edited 12 others, and written more than 200 peer-reviewed articles. Routledge will publish his forthcoming book Safeguarding Social Security for Future Generations. A recipient of several awards for his work in gerontology, he chaired the National Council of Aging, and served on national, state, and local advisory boards.