Drs. Gene and Lei Bammel Bammel founded the Sun City Vistoso ILR in 2003.  In the beginning, the possibility of being a satellite program of the University of Arizona Senior Achievement and Growth through Education (SAGE) program, which is now the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), was considered.  Gene Bammel had been a co-president of SAGE and wanted to bring learning opportunities closer to home. It soon became clear that it was better to be an independent institute.

Sun City Oro Valley’s (SCOV) ILR is one of hundreds of life long learning programs across the country catering to those interested in being lifelong learners. These institutes were formed in New York City by a group of Elderhostel attendees who wanted to stay engaged but didn’t want to travel long distances.  Universities in the area began sponsoring programs, then Harvard and Yale joined the movement.    

One of the first SCOV ILR board members was Milt Damlich, who served as treasurer, with Gene as president and Lei as secretary.  They anticipated that they would attract 70 members to take the first four courses offered in the fall of 2003, but about 140 people joined the newly formed ILR club.   Now, ILR has more than 700 members and offers several different ways to participate.