13th annual Thewlis Lecture March 27 at URI to celebrate the secrets, wit, wisdom of age

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862 |

KINGSTON, R.I.- March 18, 2019- Forty people with a combined 3,000 years of life experience are the focus of a recent film documentary on aging that will be presented at the University of Rhode Island.

Sky Bergman’s 2018 film documentary, “Lives Well Lived,” will be screened as part of the 2019 Malford Thewlis Lecture on Gerontology and Geriatrics Wednesday, March 27. The free program, which will be held in Edwards Hall, 64 Upper College Road, Kingston Campus, begins with a reception at 4 p.m., followed by a screening of the film at 5 p.m. and a discussion with the director.

The inspiration for the film was Bergman’s then 99-year-old grandmother who enjoyed cooking and working out. Bergman asked her for some words of wisdom about graceful aging and the foundation for her film was laid.

“The film is not just about the wisdom these people have to offer but about the legacy they are leaving and the stories they are telling,” said filmmaker Sky Bergman. “That is history that needed to be recorded.”

The documentary recounts the lives of 40 people, ages 75 to 103, who endured some of the most trying times our country has seen: the Great Depression, World War II, the internment of Japanese Americans and the civil rights movement to name a few.

Despite these hardships, the film describes how its subjects transcended history and went on to live their fullest lives.

“The film speaks volumes about the possibilities of life as an older adult and serves as a way to highlight the exciting prospects of getting and being older,” said Phillip Clark, director of the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center and URI professor of Gerontology.

“Many of the people in the film faced adversity, but still inspired those around them and embraced life each day. Personally, I’m fascinated by how many of the people in the film either started or resumed artistic hobbies including dancing, photography, pottery and cooking.”

For the first time in the Thewlis Lecture series, the audience will be treated to two types of lectures–the live talk given by the speaker and the mini-lectures given by the film subjects. Lecture organizers hope the richness of the material stimulates discussion among attendees of all ages about what it means to get older and how individuals embrace aging.

The URI gerontology program, part of the College of Health Sciences/Academic Health Collaborative, launched the Thewlis lecture 13 years ago to recognize the contributions of Dr. Malford W. Thewlis, a former resident of Wakefield, pioneer in the field of geriatric medicine and a founder of the American Geriatrics Society in 1942. He wrote the landmark book “The Care of the Aged: Geriatrics” in 1919. Each year the lecture highlights an important element of aging.

Sponsors of the lecture include the URI Program in Gerontology, the Rhode Island Geriatric Education Center, URI College of Health Sciences, and the Office of the Provost.

Watch the trailer for the film or learn more about Lives Well Lived. 

Olivia Ross, an intern in the Marketing and Communications Department at URI and public relations major, wrote this press release.