Meet a Fellow Facilitator

Marj Besemer, born in Glendale, grew up in North Hollywood and graduated from North Hollywood High School. She earned her degree in Chemistry from Cal Berkeley.  She has specialized in formulation and development of detergents and household products as well as corrosion control for the water treatment industry. As a lifetime member of Civil Air Patrol, she works with teenagers in Leadership Development.  An OLLI Member since 2007, Marj facilitates and develops classes and works as co-manager of the Science/STEM Committee.

Born in Long Island, New York, Muriel Asch graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science.  She worked as a claims representative for the Social Security Administration in New York and in San Francisco. After the family came along, she became president of her local League of Women Voters.  She later returned to school and became a Certified Public Accountant and worked with the Auditor-Controller of L.A. County and in the Controller’s office of Mission Hospital and Hoag Hospitals. Now retired, she volunteers with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and synagogue, and she is a long-time OLLI at UCI member and Facilitator.  Her passions include opera and symphony, and she enjoys movies, book groups and travels both domestically and abroad – and particularly enjoys visiting her five grandchildren in Florida.

Born in Chicago, Mary Lou Sortais moved to Pacific Palisades at the age of nine.  She graduated from University High School in West LA and then went on to UC Berkeley. She majored in Political Science and was there for the Free Speech Movement, a life-altering event.  She received teaching credentials from Berkeley, UCI, and CSULB, along with a masters’ from the latter institution.  She taught almost all levels, 5 – 12 in Ventura, Pleasant Hill, and Irvine.  She and husband Joe are happily retired, and she enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, hiking, kayaking and art. Mary Lou has two wonderful daughters and one grandson.  She volunteers at Families Forward and as a docent at Bowers Museum, and she has been a member of the OLLI Social Science Committee for over 10 years.

Ron and Karen Madaras were both born in New Jersey, and went to schools on the East Coast. After graduate school they lived in Paris for 2 1/2 years. In 1975 they came to California, and lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 35 years. Karen was an elementary school teacher (mainly 1st grade), and Ron was a particle physicist at the Lawrence Berkley Lab (UC Berkeley). After retirement they move to Newport Beach 7 years ago and became OLLI members. They enjoy traveling, and their two most memorable trips were Antarctica and an African safari. They have two daughters, one living in Tustin with our two adorable granddaughters, and one in Texas.
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