Lotta Hempel didn't expect to be honored as Senior of the Year by the Thousand Oaks Council on Aging.
After all, the longtime volunteer had resigned her position as president of the Goebel Senior Center Commission effective July 1 and had finalized plans for her move to Middleburg, Va., in mid-July.
But last week, the council selected Hempel, 85, as the city's "outstanding member of the senior community." Hempel was among five nominees, including Rosina Cipko, Domenic Della Rosa, Jean Lee and Constance Kraszewski.
"I didn't have the least idea I'd be chosen," said Hempel, a 14-year resident of Thousand Oaks. "Each nominee was equal to the other."
John Eslick, organizer of the Senior of the Year program, said the voting was very close among the four council members and one community member.
"All five candidates were well-qualified, and it wouldn't have surprised me if any of them had won it," he said.
Besides her work with the senior center, Hempel has done volunteer work for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, the American Assn. of Retired Persons and the Westlake Meals on Wheels program.
"From the time I was young, I volunteered in church work," she said. "I find it rewarding. I seem to be addicted to volunteer work."
Hempel, who is moving to Virginia with her son and daughter-in-law, plans to get involved in senior activities there as soon as she can. "I'm 85," she said. "I've got to get busy right away."