Best of Spain and Portugal – Brief Bios

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Why Brief Bios? For each of our trips we have had a Brief Bio Page and it has been especially helpful in getting to know each other and our interests both before and during the trip. Plus, it is a wonderful way to remember peoples’ names.  Who We Are: There are 34 of us going on the trip and we range in age from 48 to 79 with the median age being 63. We come from both coasts and many states in between with about half of us married and half are single. Brief Bios are Private: Although this web page is on the 52Best website, it is private and only we who are traveling together know it is here. Sharing: Any of us are welcome to share this page but only with our friends and family. Updating: If your photo and/or Brief Bio needs updating, please get it to me asap. My email address is and my phone 972-702-0000. 

Jean Aklufi: Riverside, California – single room – I am a California retired school administrator who is happily married but leaving my husband home for this trip. I am looking forward to spending time with my cousin, Sandy Pofahl and brother, Bob Marshall. I went to Italy with Sandy two years ago and I am sure I will meet many new friends on this trip.




David Alcoze: Lewisville, Texas – with Marcia Hiebsch:   I am in my first year of retirement and l am having the time of my life. I am retired from Dallas ISD as a Curator of the Native American Cultural Heritage Center and as an Art Teacher teaching students from k.-12 grade. I have one son who is active duty in the Marines. He has blessed me with 3 grand children. I look forward to this trip and meeting all of you. My tribe is Cherokee and Delaware while my family is from Tahlequah in North Eastern Oklahoma which is the Capital of the Cherokee Nation.

Anita Bailor: Dallas, Texas – would like a roommate –

p-bischoffBrenda Bischoff: Pensacola, Florida – with Richard Burdess – After working in the financial/banking industry for 21 years in Florida and Texas, retired and became a Motivational Speaker, Certified Life Coach, Certified Hypnotist, NGH Certified Hypnosis Instructor and a Realtor. Living and sharing her passion of personal empowerment, her practice is located in Pensacola, Fl. She is single, and has 3 grown daughters, Brandy, Corey and Kelly and 2 of the most adorable grandsons on the planet, Jack and Quinn! Brenda loves to travel, and does so at every opportunity. Brenda has been to the Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. This will be her third trip with this group having traveled down the Danube in 2012 and Norway, Sweden, and Denmark in 2016 and hopes to continue to explore new and exciting places throughout this planet!

Richard Burdess: Pensacola, Florida – with Brenda Bischoff –  

p-coleCarolyn Cole: Dallas, Texas – rooming with April Larsen – I am a 69 year old avid traveler and am so looking forward to Spain and Portugal! I like many things: entertaining, movies, eating out, gardening, making jewelry, doing altruistic work, and most of all being with family, friends and 5 grandchildren, all who are in Dallas. I am very spiritual, which means I believe in a very positive Christianity. I am looking forward to a great time on this trip and getting to know everyone better! Last year I went on the 52Best trip and loved my total Norway, Sweden, and Denmark emersion.


Eva Del Cid: Dallas, Texas – would like a roommate – My nickname is Eva (pronounced Ava) I’m a retired teacher who moved to Dallas in 2005 from New Orleans to be closer to my son, daughter and grandkids. I love planning on going to Spain and Portugal in August with you all. I’m looking for a roommate. Please let Sandy know if you are interested or if you have a friend or relative thinking about joining us. Also I will be giving two crash lessons for all of us at Sandy’s home two months before the trip so please plan on attending. Thanks, best wishes and hasta pronto..

Sally and Tom Fetherston: Scotsdale, Arizona – Tom and Sally have 3 grown children and live in Arizona with 2 cats, 4 dogs and other assorted critters. This will be Tom’s first bus adventure with the group. Tom, Sally and Sandy attended college together. Sally went to Italy and to Scotland/ Ireland with the group. We are looking forward to our trip and our children are looking forward to critter care while we explore Spain and Portugal.


Katy Harvey and Walt Gibson: Albuquerque, New Mexico – Walt Gibson and Katy Harvey are retired school administrators who live in Albuquerque, NM.   Both are transplanted New Englanders who are now settled in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Walt loves gardening, is a zealot Red Sox and Patriots fan, enjoys gourmet cooking, fine wine, murder mysteries, politics, and pina coladas (seriously).  Katy is an avid reader, enjoys taking cooking and golf classes, dotes on our grandchildren, and also likes the Red Sox and Patriots, particularly Tom Brady.  We traveled with Sandy to Italy two years ago and had a sensational time. We’re looking forward to traveling to Spain and Portugal with our dear friends Ruth and Chet Mills and all of you!

Sam Guerrini: Flower Mound, Texas – rooming with Ray Magallanez –   My name is Sam and I am looking forward to meeting new people and sharing life experiences as we get ready to embark on our trip to Spain and Portugal. I have been working as a consultant in the HR/Talent Acquisition field for the past twenty years. Prior to that time I had worked at IBM for ten years. I grew up in Pennsylvania which is still one my favorite places because all of the beauty there combined with the four seasons. I have spent the past twenty six years in the DFW area in Texas that included two years in Atlanta in the late 90’s. I enjoy sports, playing golf, music, outdoor festivals, cooking, wine, reading, current events and traveling for fun and to visit friends around the country. I have spent a lot of my free time volunteering for a number of worthy causes and community organizations. As I push closer to retirement, I am looking forward to seeing more new places and meeting new interesting people along the way to share our life experiences and stories with.

Marcie.HiebschMarcia Hiebsch: Garland, Texas – with David Alcoze – Hello, my name is Marcia (pronounced Marsha). We will worry about the pronunciation of my last name later. I grew up in Wichita, Kansas. In 1984 I graduated from Kansas State University and in 1986 I moved to the Dallas area. Five years ago I retired from teaching and promised myself I would travel before starting a second career. This will be my second trip overseas having traveled with Sandy;s group last year to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. I am very excited about the trip, and about making new friends.

Linda Holister: Midland, Texas – rooming with Ceci Nance – Retired purchasing manager (Motorola). Live in Midland, TX on a private/public airport access. I am a pilot but do not have a flying airplane at this time. I have 5 acrea with about 40+ pecan trees and 10 fruit trees.  Almost all my children, grand kids and great-grand kids live in Arizona. I love to travel and sew.  Currently doing a lot of quilting for enjoyment along with maintaining the trees and acreage. I will have completed a cruise to the Baltic before I join this exciting tour. Looking forward a fun, adventures tour. THX Sandy for putting these great tours together.

Allen Huffhines: Dallas, Texas – single room – Pictured to the left with Linda, his high school sweetheart and wife of 60 years. They have two children and two grand children.  Allen is a Dallas native, SMU grad and retired for 18 years after selling his steel fabricating business. His interests are managing the family investments, physical fitness, and advancing conservative Constitutional causes. Having been on previous trips to Italy and to Sweden, Norway and Denmark; looking forward to this adventure.


Joyce Jordan: Dallas, Texas – rooming with Terri Shepard – I retired from management with a nationwide trucking company in 2013.   While I traveled on business extensively, I have enjoyed pleasure traveling.  Since retiring, I have taken advantage of the increased flexibility of spending time with my six grandchildren, traveling, volunteering, supporting my church and visiting friends throughout the country.   I am a recent widow and adjusting to my new life.   This will be my third trip with Sandy, previously going to China Hola!


April Larsen: Allen, Texas – rooming with Carolyn Cole –  Travel is a passion, and I have been blessed to travel to those places on the top of my bucket list (Denmark to walk on the cobblestone and visit the castle stables where my great great grandfather held a position; London and Paris with my daughter).  My most enjoyed European city is Trier (Germany) with a rich history and beautiful architecture.  I am excited to travel to Spain and Portugal to experience history and beauty through my photography.  I have 4 children with 7 grand-children and will be taking many photos to share with them.

Vickie and Flash Leon: Arlington, Texas – 

Jay Magallanez: Plano, Texas – rooming with Sam Guerrini – Born a Texan and raised in California. I went to College in Texas, met my ex-wife and raised two great men (28 & 25), and have a beautiful daughter-in-law.  After 28 years of marriage I’m single three years now and checking off things from my bucket list. Looking forward to meeting new friends and create lasting memories. See you all real soon.



Bob Marshall: Lakewood, California – would like a roommate – Hello Fellow Travelers. I am married to a school teacher who has school during the trip. So I am traveling with my cousin and sister. I am an engineer type and look forward to meeting all of you. I build plastics machinery in my spare time. I have been to Oporto once before, but look forward to seeing the whole region.



Denise McCoy: Lewisville, Texas – rooming with Kathy Perkings –  Even though I was born and raised in Michigan, I’ve lived a wonderful life in Texas for over 25 years, many of those years enjoying the milder winters. But now it’s time I pursue locations for this next phase of my life enjoying milder summers. My two adult daughters are getting on their feet and my parents are still in good health so I’m excited for the world of retirement even though I’m a few years away. But already I see the potential for more travel and the opportunity to become a “world citizen.” Currently, I get my relaxation from yoga, reading, walking, writing, and puzzles. But my passion is the study of and immersion in cultures and their languages. I’ve studied Spanish the last five years but will have to really step up my game for this trip. For the last 2 years I’ve taught English as a Second Language and would love to continue teaching throughout retirement. I’ve visited Latin and South America and this will be my first trip to Europe and my first “group” trip in probably 35 years. I’m looking forward to the transformation of a group of strangers into new friends!

Chet and Ruth Mills: Albuquerque, New Mexico – We are both retired and are traveling on this trip with our friends Katy Harvey and Walt Gibson. We met five (5) years ago and within 2 weeks knew we would be together for eternity. We are “newlyweds” and as our priest Father Brian calls us “Young Lovers”. Ruth originally retired as a Principal and school administrator after 32 years of service in the metropolitan area of Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico. She than started a second career as the Chief Administrative Officer of a company that provided Therapy and Diagnostic Services to schools throughout the state of New Mexico. Ruth “officially” retired in August of 2014 to spend time with Chet, traveling, more traveling, and seeing the grandchildren. Chet spent 23 years in private industry working for several large engineering and construction firms as a vice-president, manager, primarily in the field of cost engineering. He then started another career with the federal government and retired from the Department of Interior at the end of 2006. Chet held several senior management positions throughout the nation during his 18 year career with the federal government. Ruth and Chet have many hobbies such as: golfing, gardening, reading, movies, dancing, and live theater. Ruth is very active with our church. Of course, we are Denver Bronco fans and we attend all the home games.

Ceci Nance: Las Vegas, Nevada – rooming with Linda Holister – Just retired from Saks after 19 years. Like to travel and have been to Europe many times. Like cooking and would love to take a class in Spain. Like museums and the sites in the area. Have 3 sisters and enjoy the food and wine in the region.



Jan Oglesby: Arlington, Texas – would like a roommate – 

onufrakCarole and Jim Onufrak: Carrollton, Texas – Transplanted from Michigan in the 70’s. Both of us are retired, Jim from IBM after 38 years, Carole from massage therapy working for the state of Texas, and as a school crossing guard. We enjoy wilderness camping, bicycle riding (last big trip was 150 miles), snow skiing and spending time with our family. We have 2 children and 7 grandchildren.



Kathy Perkins:  Addison, Texas – rooming with Denise McCoy – I am still working but keep trying to quit. I’m a lawyer – graduated from SMU – and work for a company that does background screening. I was born in Dallas and have never really lived anywhere else. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do – so far I’ve been to Italy, France, England, Sweden, Japan, Fiji, Costa Rica, Austria, Greece, the Caribbean, and Turkey as well as to Mexico, Canada, and most of the US. I’m divorced. I have two dogs and a cat. This will be my first trip with this group

Chrystin and Lonnie Pleasants: Dallas, Texas –

it-Pompeii-smallSandy Pofahl:  Dallas, Texas – single room – The 52Best stories are my primary hobby which has grown from 250 friends 15 years ago to 20.000 friends today in 90 countries – some I have met and some I have not. This is the 20th 52Best trip which I have arranged beginning in 2000 with a trip to China in which 14 of us ran the Beijing Marathon. I have five older “kids” and four grandsons that live in New Mexico and New York. I am active with real estate investments as well as a venture capital investment that benefit the deaf and veterans. Both my Golden Retrievers passed away this last year – ouch – and I now have a new fur friend who is also a Golden by the name of Patton – or Patty for short when he gets into trouble.

Janet and Lee Shaw: Crowley, Texas –

Terri Shepard.HeadTerri Shepard: Carrollton, Texas – rooming with Joyce Jordan – I retired last year from State Farm after working as an adjuster for just under 23 yrs.  I currently babysit for my 1 yr old granddaughter, who is the youngest of seven, 2 boys and 5 girls.  I love to travel and it’s wonderful that I found a group that loves to travel as much as I do.  I took my first trip with Sandy 3 yrs ago when we went to Ireland and Scotland and the second trip last year to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.  They were wonderful trips and I’m sure I will love this trip just as much!.

p-vollrath2Jean Vollrath: Rochester Hills, Michigan – would like a roommate:  My husband and I live north of Detroit and have been married for 40 years. I was born in Windsor, Ontario but spent all of my married life in Michigan. I am a self-employed commercial artist and started my studio in 1974 and retired in 2006. We have one daughter Megan who lives in Stansbury Park, Utah near Salt Lake City. She ended up out West when the two of us drove 5500 miles Michigan to Seward, Alaska to clean animals after the oil spill in 88. She never came back to Michigan and discovered a whole new part of the US. In 2006 my husband and I started Petwatchersplus, a pet sitting service caring for pets in our clients’ homes. I have always loved animals and we make it a point to plan vacations to unusual places to see the wildlife, especially birds. Some of our favorite trips over the years has included polar bears at Churchill, Manitoba, several trips to Alaska, South and Central America, Cuba and Australia. South Africa with Sandy was one of our best trips as was 2 Eastern Europe River cruises, Egypt, Peru, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. First class all the way.