Theresa Pan Hosley doesn’t find retirement so much unlikely as inconceivable.
“It would be kind of boring,” she said. “I will work and volunteer as long as I’m healthy.”
At 64, Hosley has spent her adult life doing both, and Tacoma seems the recipient. Hosley has been a trustee for Bates College, the Korean Women’s Association, Annie Wright School and a principal at the Tacoma Chinese Language School.
And that’s a small part of her volunteer résumé.
“My first volunteering was about 30 years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child,” Hosley said. “I went to the Tacoma Community House and on the day I visited, there were two ladies from Taiwan there trying to learn English.”
Hosley assisted. It was an easy first duty for someone who had come to Tacoma from Taiwan in 1977, a first-trip visit that has now lasted nearly 40 years.
“I got a degree in economics in Taiwan and was interested in traveling,” Hosley said. “My fiancé was going to the University of Puget Sound, so I came to visit. Two years later, he got his degree and we were married.”
Life became a whirlwind — children, citizenship, volunteer efforts. By 1999, her husband, Benjamin Pan, had several businesses, including a Seattle travel agency. Hosley was seven years into leading the Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation.
That project led to Chinese Reconciliation Park, on the waterfront land in Old Town where one of the dark chapters in Tacoma history occurred. On Nov. 3, 1885 a group that included the mayor, judge and councilmen led a mob that ripped 250 Chinese laborers from their waterfront shanties and forced them out of town on a nine-mile walk that killed two and brought mass humiliation.
Hosley’s work helped create that park in 2011, and she’s trying to raise money for a huge pavilion.
But long before that, her life changed forever.
Her husband, Pan, died in his sleep in 1999 at age 49, the victim of a blood clot that reached his heart.
“I was 48 and had never worked with the travel agency, and I thought about selling it,” Hosley said. “But there were 10 employees, and that was a lot of jobs to end. So I went to work.”
As various volunteer agencies, school boards and foundations already knew, Hosley was a fast learner.
“The agency had a wonderful manager, and I learned from her. I’d never run a business. We’d be there until nine or 10 o’clock at night, and it took a couple of years, but I took over the agency.
“We expanded, handling retail and wholesale travel plans to individuals and other agencies. I’m very much a people person, and I love helping plan a trip for clients.”
Seasons Travel opened in Tacoma in 2004, joining her Seattle office, Associated Travel.
That Tacoma venture came with an unusual piece of good fortune — commercial real estate agent Larry Hosley.
“Working with her to find the property she wanted, I was struck by Theresa’s integrity,” he said. “She was warm, genuine, but she wasn’t looking for a relationship. I’d been divorced for 25 years, and neither was I.”
They went to lunch to celebrate the acquisition of land for her Tacoma business, and later, she invited him to dinner. For 18 months, they would see each other not often but steadily. In September 2004, they married
Theresa’s two children were grown, as were Larry’s four. All six approved of the marriage.
“It gave me someone to depend upon, someone whose love and support was unconditional,” Theresa said. “Larry never asked why dinner wasn’t on the table, he never asked me to stop volunteering.”
Theresa believes her heart for volunteering came with her from Taiwan.
“I grew up in a family of seven and was taught respect for others,” Theresa said. “When I grew up I was with cousins and aunts and uncles, and I got comfortable with people. If anyone needed help, we all did what we could.”
America didn’t change that, unless it was to expand the opportunities.
In 2011, the city of Tacoma gave her a City of Destiny Award for adult leadership.
On Saturday, UPS will bestow an honorary degree, a doctor of humane letters.
“I got my UPS diploma in 1962,” Larry said.
“I’m getting mine in 2015,” Theresa said.
They both laughed. It will be another honor for work done, though neither of them believes they will ever be done with the work at hand.