Carnegie Mellon University

Marlene Haus

September 15, 2023

Osher at CMU Profile: Marlene Haus, written by Marlene Parrish

Want to know anything and everything about Osher? You could do a Google search. You could click on the website link. You could ask a member. They’d work, for sure, but it would be way more fun and likely more informative if you’d just have a chat with Marlene Haus. With eyes bright eyes, big grin and deep alto, she will fill you in and fill you up with tons of insider Osher information.

“My introduction to Osher came from Marcia Frumerman,” says Marlene. “I’ve known Marsha since she was a bride. She was a founding member of ALL, the Academy of Lifelong Learning, that’s what we called ourselves back in the 90s before we became Osher. After my husband passed, she said ‘You should join ALL’. So I did. And I’m so grateful for that.

“When I walked into my first class, I recognized so many people, it was like a reunion of my kindergarten class at Wightman School.” 

Marlene was hooked. She signed up for classes even when she didn’t know what they entailed.

“One class was on Victorian clothing,” says Marlene. “Our instructor scoured flea markets to discover high button shoes, Victorian corsets, fancy hats and Gibson Girl dresses. That was fun.

“And I’ve taken most of the literature offerings, wonderful classes such as Helen Faye’s Short Stories, and anything Gloriana St. Clair teaches. The New Yorker classes I like no matter who’s leading the class. I learn so MUCH.

“I’ll take anything by Becky Carpenter, too. Her interests are like that movie Everything Everywhere All at Once; she can teach anything.

“Oh, and the best classes are Jeffrey Swogger’s movie classes where you watch the movies at home and discuss them in class. (I think I talk too much, but nobody ever says anything.)

“Then I like to take classes on subjects that I’ve never gotten around to doing. There was a class on knitting where I found out I can’t knit. There was a course on logistics that I couldn’t figure out so I took it, which was fascinating, then a class on climate and one on geography. I never thought about some of those things.”

Marlene likes the Zoom classes, too. “Zoom kept Osher afloat by keeping people involved during Covid,” she says.“I took a wonderful opera class. And anyway, sometimes it’s nice to join in from home.”

Marlene talks about the many benefits that come with membership. “There are the Drama School plays,” she says. “Many are just as good as Broadway, though I think that 8 o’clock curtain is little late for some of us. Then there are the free CMU orchestra and concerts. Discounts are available for forums, lectures and other events on campus, too. Membership is such a good deal.”

Marlene is one of those folks who gives of herself, not just takes. She is a Volunteer with a capital V. For Osher, that has meant participation on the Board and the Program Committee. One of her duties on the Membership Committee is to write bereavement notes to the families of Osher members who have passed away. “As it happened,” she says, “I was in the office one day talking with Lyn Decker. Lyn sighed, and said she really didn’t look forward to writing those sad notes. So I said, ‘I’ll do it’ and that’s how I got the job.” That’s Marlene Haus’s motto; I’ll do it. 

When she isn’t on the CMU campus, you’re likely to find Marlene on her home campus, Squirrel Hill. She grew up there, went to school there, stayed on as a bride and wife to Leonard, a veterinarian, and a mom to their three now-grown children. For the past 20 years or so, she’s lived at 1680 Murray, the apartment complex across the street from the JCC.

Marlene has also volunteered with National Council of Jewish Women and its many activities, and she’s a member of Tree of Life Synagogue. She supports the Jewish Women’s Council and has been involved with the JCC.

“My main interests today are the synagogue and Osher. They’ve kept me going all these years,” she says. “The beauty of Osher is no grades, no exams. We have a new beautiful facility, a central location and our members are all smart, friendly people of a similar age group who are curious about their world.” 

Just don’t get her started on parking.

(Author note: What’s in a name? You have no idea how the sparks fly when two energetic and talkative “Marlenes” get together over a plate of chocolate babka and a cuppa tea.)