It is no secret that the media landscape is continually changing. At Plymouth Harbor, however, the high number of residents who held top-level careers in the media industry seems to have remained constant over the years.

Today, we are lucky to have so many of these talented individuals among us. From experts in the newspaper business to printing to broadcast, we’ve got our bases covered when it comes to news. Residents Walt Mattson, David Beliles, and Greg Fosselman are distinguished journalists; Joe Berkely is an experienced publisher; Beverly Vernon is a renowned food columnist; Susan Mauntel and Arnold Freedman are celebrated news anchors and talented storytellers; Allis Edelman is a skilled photojournalist and printer, and her husband, Erwin, is an accomplished printer and editorial production manager.

From a young age, Walt Mattson showed a keen interest in the newspaper business. He was as a printer’s devil, delivered papers, worked at a commercial printing plant, operated a linotype machine, and was an advertising manager. In 1960, Walt got his big break when he joined the New York Times as assistant production manager. His persistence and dedication paid off in 1979 when he was named president of the New York Times Company. Today, Walt continues to keep the media top of mind, as evidenced by his recent presentation at Plymouth Harbor alongside Diane McFarlin, former publisher of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Joe Berkely arrived in the newspaper business seemingly by accident. A former pilot and pre-med graduate, Joe married the daughter of a daily newspaper manager. In 1945, he purchased the Dodge City Journal, a struggling weekly newspaper, and transformed it into the High Plains Journal – now a significant news source for the Midwest agricultural community. As founding publisher, Joe raised the circulation from 132 paid to 50,000 paid by the time he retired. In April 2016, he was inducted into the Kansas Press Association Hall of Fame. You can view his acceptance speech in the video below.

Similar to Joe Berkely, Beverly Vernon wound up in the newspaper business by chance. She was an excellent cook, always preparing gourmet meals for her family and friends, so in 1979, her husband encouraged her to apply for a “test kitchen cook” opening at the Chicago Tribune. To no surprise, she landed the job. After food styling, testing, and developing recipes for over a year, the paper asked Beverly to head up her very own weekly column. She ran this column, which was later syndicated, until she left in 1989. From there, she went on to work for Kraft, testing recipes and working on both print and TV advertisements for the company.

Susan Mauntel’s signature phrase? “Have I got a story for you!” — a phrase that accurately reflects her life and career. Susan was an art major, journalism minor, and destined for show business. After modeling in several TV commercials and print advertisements, she went on to host daily live TV shows in San Diego and San Francisco, where she interviewed prominent figures like Maya Angelou and Gerald Ford. Later, Susan co-anchored news in Los Angeles, and today she continues her professional career with her popular story reads.

Erwin Edelman got his start as a copy boy at Time magazine. From there, he climbed his way up the ranks to the editorial staff, assisting in layout, color, and the selection of photos. Eventually, Erwin went on to manage editorial production operations for Time Canada in Montreal. Before that, however, he met Allis — who played a unique role at the magazine, as a “picture researcher.”  According to Erwin, it was “love at first sight.” Before her position at Time, Allis had previously worked alongside famed photographer Edward Steichen, former director of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

After their time in Montreal and a brief return to New York, Allis and Erwin moved to Cornwall, Connecticut. They saw a unique opportunity and need for a printer, and as such, they opened their own printing business, Rainbow Press, which they operated until the late 1990s.

Like Walt Mattson, resident Greg Fosselman had a fascination for newsprint at a young age. He graduated with a degree in journalism and worked for United Press International as a newspaper editor, a broadcast editor, and later a national broadcast news editor. Eventually, he went on to work for the Chicago Tribune, where he stayed for 21 years as a headline writer and news editor.

Arnold Freedman got into the media business after his second year of college and never left. He landed a job at a radio station and spent the next 45 years with the same company. After serving as a news reporter for both radio and TV, Arnold was featured as a TV news anchor, all the while assisting with the station’s promotion and marketing, and eventually serving as the station’s general manager. A major highlight of his career? Covering the 1952 Eisenhower campaign all the way through to his inauguration in 1953.

David Beliles also gravitated to the newspaper business early in life, taking after his father who was a newspaper circulation executive in the 1940s and 1950s. Born in Louisville, he was a reporter, editor, and publisher for several Midwest papers. David later worked for Stauffer Communications, a privately-held media corporation, as vice president of operations. His next big venture came in 1995 when he and his wife teamed up with their son-in-law, daughter, and a small group of investors to purchase the Longboat Observer. Today, David serves as Chair of the Observer Media Group, which operates nine newspapers, six websites, and has over 100 employees.

Whether we are searching for insight into the newspaper business, or experienced knowledge in the broadcast or printing industry, one thing is for certain — we are in good company here at Plymouth Harbor.


When it comes to Plymouth Harbor residents, it is no secret that they give generously of their time. This year, when we asked residents to share with us their volunteer efforts, there was one organization in particular that kept showing up — the Sarasota Concert Association.

The Sarasota Concert Association (SCA) is a local organization that is run by a volunteer Board of Directors and recruits talented artists from across the country to come and perform in Sarasota. For over 72 years, the mission of SCA has been to bring to the greater Sarasota community the finest classical music at the lowest price possible, offering both subscriptions and single ticket options.

A number of our residents work with SCA, pouring their hearts and souls into planning events, developing an ongoing list of subscribers, and, of course, recruiting new artists. New resident Joy McIntyre is the current President of SCA, and in 2015 alone, she contributed more than 600 hours of service. Joy has been involved with SCA for more than 10 years now, and she describes the organization’s role as “bringing Carnegie Hall to Sarasota.”

SCA hosts at least five concerts per year, which are usually held at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Next year, the group is looking forward to producing six events. In addition to its traditional concerts, the Association also promotes the appreciation of varied musical arts by sponsoring local classical, jazz, and folk artists through its free community outreach program, which are usually held in the Symphony Center.

“I got involved with the Sarasota Concert Association to become a part of something that is larger than myself,” Joy says. “And I think it is characteristic of people in Sarasota to use their professional skills to help better our community.”

Joy herself is a former professional opera singer and professor at Boston University. Christopher Light, SCA board member and program book editor, developed an interest in music when he learned to use the computer to perform electronic music, producing four albums. John Goodman, SCA secretary and former president, is a musician, composer, and former professor. John Markham, SCA assistant treasurer, is a former manager for big-name publishing companies with a keen interest in music. Combined, these residents devoted over 930 hours to SCA in 2015, and will no doubt beat that number in the coming year. To learn more about the Sarasota Concert Association, you can visit:


CaptureRobin Rosov has been a wellness instructor with Plymouth Harbor for over a year, teaching both Sit Fit and Better Balance to residents. As an independent contractor, Robin also teaches a wide variety of exercise courses outside of Plymouth Harbor, including meditation, restorative breathing, water aerobics, yoga, and personal training.

Robin has always lived an active lifestyle. As a youth, she was involved in ballet and cheerleading, and taught her first formal fitness class at the young age of 20. She later graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations. From there, Robin moved to Coral Gables, Florida, earned her real estate license, and began focusing her efforts on developing that business. She became a top producer for Coldwell Banker’s residential division, but eventually, Robin felt the pull back to the fitness industry, and became a Certified Personal Trainer with the American Council on Exercise.

Robin made her way from Coral Gables to Sarasota, and worked for some time as a Personal Trainer in a gym setting. After teaching a class at Water’s Edge (a Bradenton retirement community), Robin says she found her true calling working with older adults. “My journey has taken me from one place to the next, and I have truly found my passion,” Robin says. “I love helping others to be strong, active, and the best they can be.”

Today, Robin is a certified Senior Fitness Specialist, Healthways SilverSneakers certified in Muscle Strength and Range of Movement, and certified in water aerobics instruction through the American Sports and Fitness Association. She’s also a strong advocate of taking what you learn in the classroom outdoors. A recent study in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal showed that people who live in “greener” areas, with more vegetation around, are likely to have better health and live longer lives due to factors like improved mental health, social engagement, and physical activity that come with living near green spaces. As such, Robin encourages her students to take advantage of the surroundings we have right outside our door here in Sarasota. If you’re interested in learning more, stop by one of Robin’s classes on Wednesday mornings.


Picture1237In April 2016, Sarasota Magazine announced the winners of its annual Best of Sarasota: Readers’ Choice Awards. This year, we’re proud to announce that Plymouth Harbor was voted a finalist in two categories — Best Retirement Community, and Best Place to Meet Singles.

While this category may imply meeting a significant other, it can take on another meaning here at Plymouth Harbor. One of the characteristics that makes our community unique is the friendliness and openness of our residents — and resident Fran Nikolich agrees. Fran moved in a little over a year ago, in March 2015.

“My first night, I was sitting at the bar by myself. Another r
esident walked right up to me and invited me to come and sit at her table,” Fran remembers. “It’s the people that make Plymouth Harbor a great place to live, and my first night here is a testament to that.”

Since then, Fran has developed many friendships — with both couples and fellow single residents. She credits them to the friendliness of her neighbors, her outgoing personality, and the Plymouth Harbor Welcoming Committee.

The Welcoming Committee consists of a group of people whose one goal is to ensure that new residents have a pleasant transition into life here at Plymouth Harbor. This includes introducing them to the campus and their colony, and inviting them to dinners and special events. Additionally, each new resident is assigned a personal mentor who greets them on their first day, and is generally available to answer questions.

“It is a tradition that has gone on for years and years,” says BJ Peters, chair of the Welcoming Committee. “I was a mentor myself and became very good friends with my mentee. I’ve also seen that happening with others — it’s a wonderful thing.”

One thing is for certain, you never know who you will meet here at Plymouth Harbor. From new friends to long-lost friends and colleagues — or even a significant other — anything is possible. We are proud to be named Best Place to Meet Singles — whatever the meaning.


blessingofthehands2016It was a simple email invitation to all Plymouth Harbor staff, which read: “For the last several years during National Nurses’ Week, Tidewell Hospice has provided us with a meaningful service — the Blessing of the Hands, led by one of their chaplains. The purpose is to help consecrate the work we do with our residents. If you would like to join us at 2:00 p.m. today in Smith Care’s living room, then you are welcome to do so.”

About 25 of us (staff and residents) assembled at 2:00 p.m. to simply be reminded how our hands represent us here in this extraordinary healing community! Carol Field, from Tidewell, began with the statement, “This is Holy Ground and God has given us sacred hands for our sacred and holy work.” I was attentive and deeply moved as Carol reminded us that the service was developed by the Desert Mothers in the early centuries when the Church saw its primary ministry as caring for the destitute and healing the sick. She then asked us to hold out our hands, palms up. With a bowl of water in her arms, Carol prayed:

Blessed be these hands that have touched life. Blessed be these hands that have felt pain. Blessed be these hands that have embraced compassion. Blessed be these hands that have been clenched with anger or withdrawn in fear. Blessed be these hands that have drawn blood or administered medicine. Blessed be these hands that have cleaned rooms and beds. Blessed be these hands that have touched the sick and offered blessings. Blessed be these hands that have grown stiff with age. Blessed be these hands that have comforted the dying and held the dead. Blessed be these hands which hold the future. Blessed be our hands; for they are the work of Your hands, O Holy One.

 Then she slowly walked the circle, touching our hands with water, saying, “May the work of your hands bring comfort, dignity, and mercy to all the people your hands touch.” Aides, nurses, housekeepers, dining, residents, and administrators — there we all were, many of us with tears in our eyes, at this simple gesture acknowledging the role we have in the wellness ministry. A drop of myrrh had been added to the water, and as we rubbed our hands together, we felt the oily fragrance frequently added to salve and medicines. Carol then sent us forth with the blessing:

 May you be blessed with a Spirit of tenderness and a tender heart. May you be blessed with a Spirit of strength flowing from you. May you be blessed with a Spirit of compassion. May you be blessed with a Spirit of courage, daring to be who you are. May you be blessed with a Spirit of openness, understanding and respect. May Life hold you and Love keep you. Amen.

I stood there wishing that all the Plymouth Harbor family could have been present — residents, staff, and board members — for in truth every person contributes to healing at 700 John Ringling Boulevard. Residents reach out to residents and staff; staff reach out to residents and colleagues; board members attending special events reach out to staff and residents, with such questions as “How is life at Plymouth Harbor going for you?” Plymouth Harbor is filled with healing!

Look at your hands. Take a moment right now to hold them out, palms up, and appreciate all the ways your hands help, hold, touch, and heal. Now imagine water touching them and hear the blessing, “May the work of your hands bring comfort, dignity, and mercy to all the people your hands touch. Amen.”


3212L3-PILGRIM_HALL-SD (3)We are very happy to say that progress is being made in the rejuvenation of Pilgrim Hall. Following is an update on the project, as it stands at the end of May.

The construction drawings have been completed and are with Willis Smith (the contractor) and the City of Sarasota (for permitting). Willis Smith has invited subcontractors to bid on the project, which will result in a final construction cost. We will have the cost by the end of June, at which time we should also possess the permits from the city.

The Project Design Team (Phil Starr, John DeJongh, Fran Rehl, Ted Rehl, Charles Gehrie, Maryanne Shorin, Harry Hobson, and Becky Pazkowski) has been attending a series of meetings with the architect (Laura Adcock, WBRC Architects) and the interior designer (Marne Kaplan, Marne Kaplan Interior Design, Inc.). A color scheme encompassing fabrics, carpet, wood, curtains, wall coverings, and fixtures has been selected for both inside the hall and the corridor directly outside of the hall that complements the café, dining room, and lobby décor. (Note that the previously viewed wall images for the corridor that were discussed at last June’s resident meeting are not in the final design template). The new design of the entrance includes widening of both doors from the corridor by 18’’ each. New seating is progressing, with two companies still in the bidding process. The seating goal is to improve comfort, maintain capacity, and accommodate wheelchairs and scooters.

The acoustician and audio/video experts have submitted their recommendations, which have been accepted by the Project Design Team. The improvements include upgrades of acoustical materials throughout the hall, surround sound, high capacity voice amplification, high definition video projection, and sound monitoring from the rear of the hall. Also included are capabilities to view Pilgrim Hall performances from the Club Room and Wellness Center.

The Club Room voice microphones, surround sound, and TV monitor have all been upgraded. Previously, only two microphones were available…now, we have 10. Previously, the sound for the video projection and the microphones all came from the same ceiling speakers…now, we have a brand new surround sound system that has dedicated speakers in the ceiling and on the floor in the front and back of the room. This system handles any sound coming from the TV. The new 85’’ 4k television takes the place of the previous video projector and screen. Now all video projection, including cable TV, can be viewed on this screen. This includes anything done from a computer, from cable, or from a DVD. We also upgraded the internet access to hardwire, as opposed to Wi-Fi, which will improve the performance of streamed videos.

We anticipate that the rejuvenation in Pilgrim Hall will commence at the end of June, with a projected six-month schedule. Let’s hope for an end of the year grand opening celebration!


ActivityTeamSCCTraditionally, when someone is asked to describe activities in a skilled nursing environment, they might envision a “riveting” game of bingo, or a balloon volleyball match. Today, Judy Sarnowski, Smith Care Center’s Activity Director, and her team are doing away with that notion. In addition to Judy, the Smith Care Center (SCC) team consists of Erica Andrejkovics, Virginia Bailey, and Jason Redmon.

Before coming to Plymouth Harbor, Judy taught for 12 years in the Indiana school system. This experience has absolutely shaped Judy’s approach to her position as Activity Director, providing meaningful leisure activities that help to strengthen the mind, body, and spirit of SCC residents. Judy and her team tend to focus on range of motion activities in the morning, and on cognitive stimulation activities in the afternoon that offer a broader appeal — for example, the game “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?” The team also differentiates itself by incorporating technology — including everything from computer games to iPods and iPads to YouTube and Wii games. And, if requested, they will even facilitate FaceTime with residents and their family members.

While sharing the same vision, each member of the SCC activity team brings his or her own unique approach to the job. According to Judy, that is what makes their team work so well together. Jason graduated from University of South Florida with a degree in Psychology. He worked in the healthcare activity field for a few years before leaving to pursue interests in both teaching and IT.  After only four years away, he felt a calling to go back into activities. Erica is similar to Judy in that she has spent many years working in the field of education, and currently serves as a middle school math teacher in addition to her part-time position in SCC. Virginia seemed to always have had her sights set on the healthcare industry, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Human Services, and earning her certification as an Activity Assistant and a Certified Nursing Assistant.

“I feel extremely fortunate to have a team that shares my passion to make a difference in the lives of others. It is delightful to work with those who have both the education and background to assist me in providing our residents activity choices that are fun, relevant, and meaningful,” Judy says. “We are a cohesive team that complements one another, and I think that is a rare find.”

There is no doubt that when you visit SCC, you’ll see the activity team in action.


Judy Liersch began her work life at IBM, programming early computers like the RAMAC. Al Jennings graduated from West Point in 1954 and went on to a career in the U.S. Air Force. How did Judy, a Liberal Arts major, end up meeting this retired Air Force Colonel? In the remote mountains of New Mexico at Los Alamos National Laboratory — one of two laboratories in the U.S. where classified work designing nuclear weapons takes place. What was it like working at Los Alamos?

View their May Insights presentation to find out:

Insights is a monthly connection where residents can share stories and insights about their lives, careers, and hobbies with Plymouth Harbor employees. A feature of Plymouth Harbor’s developing employee wellness program, OnBoardInsights is offered at noon on the fourth Friday of each month. Open to all employees, lunch is provided, supported by gifts to the Plymouth Harbor Foundation employee assistance fund. Thanks to Phil Starr, each Insights presentation is videotaped for viewing by employees unable to attend the live event.


DSC_5361On Monday, May 23, 2016, Plymouth Harbor celebrated its 50th anniversary on MacNeil Day 2016 — an annual tribute to our founder, The Rev. Dr. MacNeil. The event began with a Commemoration Ceremony at 4:00 pm in the Mayflower Restaurant and Café, and was followed by a reception.

Plymouth Harbor opened its doors on January 15, 1966 to the first residents of our community, and on May 6, 1966, an official dedication ceremony was held. Over the years, Plymouth Harbor has grown, welcoming residents from all over the world, enhancing programs, activities, and amenities, and expanding, first with the addition of the North Garden, and now the Northwest Garden. There is no doubt that Plymouth Harbor has endured the test of time due to the willingness of the entire organization to adapt and evolve to meet growing needs and changes in the industry.

The MacNeil Day celebration paid tribute to this notion, honoring our past, present, and future. It included remarks from President and CEO Harry Hobson, and a special address by John Patterson, former Chair and Trustee of the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees. A proclamation from the City of Sarasota honoring Plymouth Harbor’s 50 years was presented by Suzanne Atwell, Vice-Mayor.

The proclamation conclusion read: Now, therefore, the City Commission of the City of Sarasota, Florida, and on behalf of the citizens of our community, takes great pride in recognizing May 23, 2016 as “Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay’s 50th Anniversary,” a day of special importance and worthy of the recognition of the citizens of the city of Sarasota.

The Rev. Dick Sparrow, Interim Chaplain, gave the invocation, and The Rev. Dr. Wes Bixby, Senior Minister at the First Congregational United Church of Christ Sarasota, concluded the ceremony with a responsive reading and benediction.

More than 230 guests attended the event, including Plymouth Harbor residents, employees, past and present members of the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees and the Plymouth Harbor Foundation Board of Trustees, representatives from the United Church of Christ, and the local media.

Plymouth Harbor is proud to celebrate 50 spectacular years, and we look forward to many more. Below please find the 50th anniversary video: