By Linda White
The residents of Carleton-Willard Villager (CWV) defy any preconceived notion of retiree behaviors. By and large, they continue to lead the same busy, active, professional and happy lives that characterized them before retirement. They have not abandoned their previous pursuits, interests and/or inquisitive nature. As CW Villagers, they are involved in a variety of activities inside and outside the Village, continuing to participate in many of their lifelong interests. They also participate in newly developed interests and activities, including staying fit and enjoying an array of athletic opportunities and facilities available to them on site. Recently, a group gathered to discuss what life is like at CWV, why they chose this particular setting for retirement, and what keeps them young at heart and vital.
Meredith McCulloch, who moved to CWV in October 2016, is a familiar Bedford face, having served for 16 years as Director of the Bedford Free Public Library until her retirement in 2005. Prior to becoming Director, she served as the Assistant Director for 12 years, as a part-time reference librarian for seven years, as a library volunteer and was actively involved as a volunteer with the Friends of the Bedford Library. As Director, she was responsible for many library innovations including the establishment of the very popular art gallery space in 1999. McCulloch, a champion of citizen journalism and advocate to keep it alive and growing, was one of the 2012 founding members of The Bedford Citizen and continues her involvement as a board member. McCulloch commented, “I moved to Bedford in 1968, and I’m still in love with this town! Bedford’s people are not cliquey, they are welcoming, accepting, and kindness is their motto. I have found those same qualities to be present here at CWV. The Village provides an opportunity for resident input, an independent lifestyle, path for the future, and control over your last years. I am happy to be able to maintain my interests in politics, travel, and information with my new neighbors.”
Madelyn Armstrong grew up in Maine and has never lost her affinity for the natural landscape and walking trails of Maine that she finds so attractive at CWV. She moved to the Village two years ago with her cat, Frederick, after retiring from a career in trust and investment banking in Boston where she managed groups of systems analysts. “I looked at various types of housing options and found CWV to be a stand out for their incredible, gracious setting, and ease of getting into Boston for a concert, museum visit or just to enjoy the city. The ability to interface with the high school wait staff is a plus, the nursing facility is of the highest quality, and the staff values are exceptional. I enjoy being part of this active community and also love that I still have my privacy. I’ve been able to pursue many of my favorite interests – classical and early music, singing, reading as well as volunteering in our CWV library and building our collection of large print books, and travel by taking advantage of as many off-site trips as possible. I also serve on the CWV Trip Committee,” she explained.
Anne Winslow called Concord her home for 43 years. It is where she raised her three children, volunteered on several Town of Concord committees, worked with adult English Language learners, and was an active member of the Trinity Episcopal Church. In particular, she takes pride in her participation and efforts to promote the ordination of Episcopal women. She was familiar with CWV from her frequent visits to see friends who were residents and was a member of Carleton-Willard at Home, the CWV sister service, enjoying the delivery of delicious prepared meals from the CWV chef. For the eight years prior to becoming a CWV resident in 2014, Winslow made her home at the Concord Greene Condominiums where she served as a board member. Summarizing her CWV experience, Winslow reflected, “Since becoming a CWV resident, I’ve met so many new and interesting people. This is a unique and welcoming community. I still maintain a sense of independence, I’m still driving, and I look forward to the visits of my children and grandchildren. Everything that one could need is here so you really don’t have to leave the Village unless you want to, and at the same time, you still have proximity to Boston and all that it offers. I love my reading time, volunteering once a week in the General Store on our Main Street, and functioning as the Secretary of the Executive Committee and Resident’s Association.”
Dr. Anne Larkin Lesley University Professor Emerita, grew up in Roxbury, and describes herself as “a perpetual room mother.” She began her career at Lesley University in 1967 and retired twice but remains “still involved.” She and her husband, Tom, moved to Bedford in 1966 and raised their three children in Bedford. During her Lesley tenure, Larkin developed an international reputation in the areas of special education and autism and has written and published several articles on autism, the role of the arts in special education, school restructuring, and early literacy.Larkin reflected, “Looking back, one of the things I am most proud of is the time I spent as the Director of the Cambridge Chapter of Say Yes to Education, Inc., a non-profit scholarship program established in collaboration with the Weiss Foundation, Lesley University, and the Cambridge Public Schools. Say Yes revitalizes communities by helping them give public high school graduates access to college or other vocational opportunities.” She continued, “Tom was ready to make this life transition long before me, but I am very glad we are here at CWF. It is a place where people continue to grow and thrive. The committees and civic activities are exceptional. As a member of the Civic Issues committee, I am looking forward to having Seth Moulton, our Congressman, speak to our community. We will be showing the DVD of Beyond the Flood in May. The programming here is always interesting and stimulating. I also enjoy volunteering in the General Store, with the Thespians Group, the Executive Committee, and Civic Issues. The dining room is terrific as are our amazing CWV leadership personnel and staff. With so many things to do, I clearly do not miss the responsibility of planning meals, cooking and cleaning the house. CWV was a great decision for us!”
Tom Larkin served on the Board of Middlesex Board of County Commissioners and as a psychologist for the Boston Public Schools for 30 years. Since his retirement, he has worked as a psychologist at the Middlesex County House of Corrections for 16 years. He has been a strong political activist for most of his life. Larkin recounted, “I retired before my wife, Anne, and was more than ready for a move to CWV. We already had friends who lived in the Village, and we made a relatively quick adjustment to our new surroundings. In the seven years we have been residents, we continue to find numerous opportunities to be involved and active in several different pursuits such as the poetry group, current events, civic and political discussions, etc. There is a wide array of interesting people here. I especially enjoy my involvement with the thespian group. We’re a very active group and have put on plays such as Ancestral Voices, Love Letters, The Importance of Being Earnest, and one-act plays, to just name a few. It is a wonderful sharing of talents. We perform in an excellent auditorium, and we also have great tech support for all our productions. I enjoy the Men’s Only Breakfast (no ladies allowed!) gatherings, and I also enjoy playing bridge and must admit that I have been soundly beaten by Mary Hastings who is 102 years old! One of the things you do notice, perhaps more in this setting, is that friends decline over time and you miss their presence — but it is just part of the natural life cycle.”
Alice Morrish was educated at Smith College, has had a life-long fondness for English literature, and initially worked at Massachusetts General Hospital as a psychiatric social worker. She visited England many times on holiday over the years and always felt at home there. In her 2012 essay published in The Experience of Our Years by residents of CWV, she shared a bit of her history. “It’s crazy because I am in no way a brave or adventurous person, but when I was 47 years old, I gave up a very good job and a life I loved and moved to England to marry a guy I’d met only three times in my life. When I think back, I wonder what on earth was I thinking of! But it was the best thing I ever did in my life, for several reasons. … I can’t explain what made me decide to marry him after just three visits over five years. I just knew it was right, and he did too. We just seemed to fit together in sense of supporting each other. Like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, we were different but fit together perfectly. When I moved there in 1975, I found it a much more challenging experience to become part of what was a very different culture from that of the U.S. even though I’m a Bostonian, and certainly Boston is far more similar to England than are other parts of the U.S. My husband, John, was a clockmaker and watchmaker. He had a jewelry store and when I arrived, I worked with him.… After the first year, I decided to resume my previous career of psychiatric social work. I worked three days a week as a social worker and three days a week in the shop. So I made friends through my job as well.… We came back to the U.S. in 1995 when we retired. I would have been perfectly happy to stay in England, but John wanted the experience of living in America. And John loved living here, although unfortunately, he had only seven years here before his death in 2002.” Morrish has been a CWV resident for nine years and has exhibited her can-do spirit in many areas. She is a member of the Executive Resident Association, was an active member of the Tomato Patch People, a group of CWV organic gardeners (https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2012/08/carleton-willard-villages-organic-gardeners/), and has been the three-term co-chair of the very popular and successful Excess Baggage Sale (https://www.thebedfordcitizen.org/2017/04/excess-baggage-letting-go-giving-back/).
The Citizen is grateful to Stephanie Smith, CWV Director of Public Relations, who facilitated the opportunity to meet and speak with these CWV residents. Smith summarized, “Our residents are unique in so many ways. Their vitality, inquisitiveness, and desire to stay fit and involved in life both as Bedford residents and Village residents is nothing short of amazing. The CWV continuing care retirement community (CCRC) model allows our residents to age in place and smoothly transition through the different housing and care options on site as their personal and care needs change from independent living, to assisted living, to skilled nursing care, and perhaps to our memory unit while still maintaining their close relationship to our staff and their neighbors.”
Read Linda White’s companion article Barbara A. Doyle Again Named to Top 100 Female CEOs in Massachusetts