Hitting his stride

Renaissance man pursues his passions at Greenspring

Created date

March 23rd, 2020
At Greenspring, Leonard Kalkwarf smiles in yellow NVSO t-shirt from the comfort of his home.

At Greenspring, Leonard Kalkwarf balances his time between physical activity, spiritual pursuits, writing, and public speaking.

There is little that Leonard Kalkwarf doesn’t do. An ordained minister, Leonard is an accomplished author, a history buff, and a public speaker. He is also a tremendous athlete. At the most recent Northern Virginia Senior Olympics (NVSO), he won ten gold and three silver medals in a variety of events, including track and field, bowling, horseshoes, and rowing. 

“I enjoy keeping busy not only because it helps me feel physically well but also because I enjoy the time spent with others,” he says.

The NVSO also plays a big role in keeping Leonard healthy. According to a recent study at the University of North Carolina at Greenville, “participating in senior games fosters improved health on an athlete’s physical and social well-being.” 

“I do not intentionally train for the Olympics throughout the year, but I do stay active for my own health and because I enjoy it,” he says. “I walk at least two miles every morning and go up and down five flights of stairs [instead of taking the elevator]. In addition, in an effort to stay physically active, I bowl in a ten-pin bowling league where I continue to use a 16-lb ball. I also play billiards; and in the summer, I enjoy playing horseshoes competitively almost every day.”

The making of an athlete

Organized in 1982, the mission of the NVSO program is to “promote health, fitness, and psychological well-being for senior adults by providing opportunities for participation, competition, self-improvement, and fellowship through various athletic and recreational events.”

Over the course of two weeks, more than 60 different events are held at 28 venues across participating jurisdictions: Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Fauquier counties and the cities of Fairfax and Alexandria.

Growing up on a farm in Iowa, Leonard admits that there was little time for after-school athletics because he was needed as a helping hand at home. Rather, it was not until his move to Greenspring that he was first encouraged to sign up for the NVSO.

“There are two reasons why I enjoy competing in the NVSO,” says Leonard. “First, I like the competitiveness of the events as each person tries to do their best. Secondly, I enjoy seeing so many people active and in good physical condition because they have chosen to live an active lifestyle.”

Throughout the year, Leonard visits Greenspring’s on-site fitness center and enjoys long walks throughout the sprawling campus.

“Walking is my private time, a time to meditate,” he says.

Perfect balance

For Leonard, life is a balance between both physical activity and spirituality. Before moving to Greenspring, he spent decades in parish ministry as an ordained minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Reformed Church in America. At Greenspring, Leonard serves as the chairman of The Village Church and leads several Bible studies.

The Village Church at Greenspring serves an active membership of over 150 people from more than 12 denominations.

“It is our goal to provide a place where residents feel at home in their worship and faith,” says Leonard, who in addition to weekly volunteer efforts also leads Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve services. 

In 2018, he published his third book since moving to Greenspring, Daily Devotions, based on his sermons. Written over the course of two years, the book contains a devotion for each day of the year, including a Bible verse of the day, a devotional thought, and a concluding prayer.

Leonard is also an admitted history buff, writing Exploring the Libraries of the U.S. Presidents, published in 2015. The book details his experiences and observations from visiting each of the 13 presidential libraries [up to that time].

“I have always been interested in history, especially American history,” he says. “Prior to studying for the ministry, I planned to go to college and major in history with the hopes of teaching history.”

Sharing with others

As a result of his writings, Leonard is often asked to speak on the topics of faith and U.S. presidential history. In the last year, he’s presented at public libraries in Maine and several Rotary Clubs in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“I’ve been very blessed throughout my life, and I feel very fortunate to reach others through my ministry and writing,” he says.

Leonard recently began exploring the issue of church and state and presented his findings to the Greenspring History Forum. 

“I am seriously considering writing a book on the subject,” he adds. 

In the meantime, Leonard walks each morning and bowl with friends. He’s looking forward to playing horseshoes during the summer months and plans to compete again in the NVSO games in September. 

“Living at Greenspring, because of its carefree environment has enabled me to pursue many and varied activities,” he says. “I appreciate that after many years of being devoted to my work with limited free time to [be able to] pursue other activities.”