Sherry Olkonen has never let age stand in the way of what she loves to do.
“I have fun doing these things and it makes me feel younger,” the Kapahi resident said. “I’m not ready for the rocking chair on the porch yet.”
At 71, Olkonen refuses to slow down and just take things easy. She loves riding her bike on Ke Ala Hele Makalae, hiking Sleeping Giant with her friends, surfing and country western line dancing.
She also does volunteer work at her home for the bereavement support group, Life Bridges, which comforts families who have experienced a suicide or homicide.
Since she retired from the Garden Island newspaper in 2011, Olkonen has also embraced the joys of traveling. She has whitewater rafted in Canada, kayaked rivers in Florida, hiked in Switzerland and bicycled in California.
Her diet centers on healthy, organic food.
Olkonen has visited Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and New England and is looking forward to traveling to Italy in a few months.
“I always wanted to travel my whole life,” she said. “It’s very interesting for me to see different places and we do different activities.”
She thanks her father, Barney Frank, for her lifestyle.
“My father was very active even after he retired at age 75,” Olkonen said. “He was still jogging seven miles a day. He was a good role model for me.”
Frank would often take Olokonen and her younger brother to La Jolla Beach in San Diego and also to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for camping trips.
“We’d go on a lot of family outings. Nothing spectacular,” Olokonen said. “We’d just have fun.”
Olkonen moved to Kauai in 1989. She began working for the Garden Island in 1990 where she prepared the paper for the press.
“We were pasting the pages up by hand,” she said.
She offered advice to those who wish to stay strong as the years pass by.
“It’s easier if they have a friend that they can do things with especially if they’re a little hesitant,” she said. “Call your friend and say, ‘Let’s start walking.’”
Whether it’s biking, hiking, surfing, dancing or walking, Olkonen will be out and about, always on the move.
“The No. 1 thing is that I feel so much better,” she said. “I just feel good the more I do things. I have more energy and it’s just more fun.”