A 98-Year-Old Baker on the Power of Pie and Purpose

Watch what happens when he pulls out his rolling pin and connects with his community

Part of the Transforming Life as We Age Special Report

Leo Kellner found his sense of purpose in the kitchen. The 98-year-old, who lives in Hastings, Neb., spends his days baking and gives away everything he makes — to friends, to hospice volunteers and others in need of food and kindness. He started when he was 92. That’s the year Kellner retired and his wife of 72 years, Madelon, died.

“I’ve got to have something to do,” he told reporter Dennis Kellogg of public television station NET. Baking helped Kellner through his loss and filled days that otherwise felt empty.

Baking — and the sense of purpose that comes with it — might also be why Kellner is still going strong six years later. Researchers have shown that feelings of purpose are associated with lower risk of stroke, dementia and other debilitating conditions.

Watch Kellner’s story in the PBS NewsHour video below. These days, he’s passing along his kitchen skills to a 12-year-old assistant eager to learn. Find out more about the power of purpose and bring your own sense of purpose into sharper focus with exercises from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing.

Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:

The Big Problem New Retirees Run Into

The Power and Potential of Purposeful Aging

How to Find the Ideal Place to Volunteer


By Denise Logeland
Denise Logeland is a writer and editor in Minneapolis who has covered business, health and health care. She is the author of Next Avenue's ebook, 10 Things Every Family Should Know: Aging With Dignity and Independence.
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