Capture95Plymouth Harbor is pleased to welcome the new 2016-2017Residents Association Executive Council. 

Tom Elliott was selected as President and is joined by Wendy Underwood, Vice President; Sallie Luebbe, Secretary; Aubie Coran, Treasurer; and Past President Terry Aldrich.

The Executive Council also includes three Executive Associates who serve as liaisons to colony directors, committees, and residents as a whole. These members are: Carolyn Albrecht, colonies; Addie Hurst, committees; and Norma Schatz, residents.

In addition to serving on the Executive Council, the President, Vice President, and Past President of the Residents Association serve as full voting members on the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees.

As with previous leadership, this year’s Executive Council brings with them a wealth of knowledge and professional experience. President Tom Elliott is the former President/CEO of Applied Science Associates (ASA) – a multi-faceted organization involving behavioral science, ergonomics, personnel management, software development, printing, and training for both government and industrial organizations. Vice President Wendy Underwood previously worked for C&P Telephone, which later became Bell Atlantic and now Verizon. While there, she held positions in various capacities, including finance, accounting, auditing, and marketing.

Sallie Luebbe is a Registered Nurse, educator, and experienced real estate agent. Addie Hurst is also an experienced educator. Aubie Coran is a research scientist, author, professor, and inventor. Terry Aldrich held two very different careers — one as a psychotherapist, and the other as a business owner focused on the import and export of antiques and furniture. Carolyn Albrecht worked in the personnel department at Merrill Lynch, and later had a career in public relations. Norma Schatz is a longtime advocate for children’s issues, having served on the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee and founding the Collaboration for Connecticut’s Children.

We are thrilled to welcome this new slate of officers and look forward to yet another successful year here at Plymouth Harbor.


By: Al Balaban

While she awaits the totalCapture5234523 renovation of her new apartment on the sixteenth floor, Ina Schnell will be living for a few months on the third floor of the tower as she begins her new life. She is certainly not new to Sarasota, where she has been widely known for almost 25 years, nor to Plymouth Harbor, where she has participated in many activities as a Harbor Club member.

What might perhaps be new will be her desire to limit the intense activity and commitment to the many artistic, socially worthy, and creative groups to which she devoted most of her waking hours. She feels ready to “live the contemplative life,” having time for reading, studying, discussing ideas and events, making new friends, and having fun.

Given Ina’s history, slowing down seems a heroic task. Growing up in New England, her early education as a day-student at a creative, progressive boarding school planted the seeds that flourished into her love of the arts and the joys of the outdoors. She attended Skidmore College, earning a degree in history; many years later, she received a master’s degree in urban affairs and policy analysis from the New School for Social Research in New York City.

In the years between the two academic pursuits, Ina “earned a living.” Right out of college, she was hired by Bonwit Teller at a starting level. By 23, she had remarkably become a buyer. Twelve years later, she left the store to pursue other interests. Married twice, she has one son.

Ina’s engagement in social and cultural organizations began while living in New York and The Berkshires, but flourished here in Sarasota. Space does not permit a full listing of her awards and honors from arts and philanthropic organizations; such a list might give you a misleading image of a workaholic, a remote, driven woman — she is not that. She is proud of the work she has done (particularly on the board of the Ringling Museum of Art, and as a founding member of the Foundation for Sarasota County Public Libraries) and the many honors received.

Currently, Ina wants very much to become part of the social fabric of Plymouth Harbor — making friends, learning, and participating and contributing to the unique quality of life we all share here.



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:


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.”


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:



Picture12Nearly six years ago, residents Marian Kessler and BJ Peters began working with a program called “SnackPack.” This program helps deliver snack time meals to underprivileged children at the Bay Haven School in Sarasota. “Snack time” is a mandatory component of K-5 schools today, and without the SnackPack program, some children would show up with no snack at all. Can you imagine what it must be like for a child to sit empty-handed and hungry in school while classmates all around are having a snack? Teachers were left to fill the gap.

Marian and BJ have seen the SnackPack program evolve over the years. In fact, at one time, these snacks were packed on our very own campus. Today, however, Marian and BJ collect tax-deductible monetary donations from neighbors, friends, and family in order to purchase the food. Typically, the snack bags contain items such as granola bars, pudding cups, and the like, five items per bag to cover a week. They work with the guidance counselor at Bay Haven School to determine quantities and the right foods to buy. The school provides a designated space for Plymouth Harbor volunteers to come to sort and pack. While Marian and BJ only need six volunteers at a time to help pack the bags, it takes numerous contributors to ensure that they can purchase enough food to fill the need. The process of purchasing food, bag labeling, and packing is done once a month.

The most crucial element of the SnackPack program is that students who receive this aid remain anonymous. How is this accomplished? SnackPacks arrive in labeled plastic bags similar to other children’s snack bags at school. The bags are then placed in the same bin as all other classroom snacks, and when the time come for kids to take their snack, it is virtually impossible to tell where each one originated. Since they began working with the program, Marian and BJ have had support from more than 40 volunteers and contributors within Plymouth Harbor. The original 40 SnackPack recipients from Bay Haven School have increased to 63 children who qualify for food assistance.

“The need is real and growing,” says Marian. “It’s a very small amount of time that volunteers give, but the impact is huge.”

BJ, a school teacher herself for 25 years, adds, “It’s certainly a wonderful relationship between the staff and students at Bay Haven. It’s a comfortable place and you can sense the rapport right away. The SnackPack program fits right into that spirit.”



Koenig2r (3)Moving to a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is a unique decision for everyone. We’d like to share our reasons for making the decision. To help you understand, you’ll need to know a little about us. Here are our reasons:

Being good planners and staying ahead of the game. We planned to retire when we were 65 but were able to reach our financial goals and retired 10 years early. We have been very diligent in searching for the best CCRC for us; the search took over two years. We visited 15 communities and put our names on three waiting lists. As you have done, we concluded that Plymouth Harbor best fits our plan. Picking the right CCRC for us is one part of the equation; another part is deciding at what age to move. We learned that the average admission age is about 81, but the range varies greatly. For us, we set a goal of moving in at age 74 — this should give us 10 years of Independent (Resort) Living.

Being on a waiting list is not enough. In our research, we learned that many new communities are being developed. Some will be successful, others will fail. Since it is virtually impossible to tell which will be successful, we decided to select only non-profit CCRCs with strong financials and over 25 years of service. Unfortunately, these are in high demand as demonstrated by the increasing length of their waiting lists. If you want to get the community of your choice, you need to act.

Our concern about Dementia data. During our research we learned that when a person reaches the age of 85 the probability of having some form of dementia is 50%.  Since there are two of us, that means that by age 85 the probability of one of us having dementia is 100%. Several years prior to 85, we want to be in a facility enjoying Independent Living so that when the time comes we’ll be better able to get the services we will most likely need.

House maintenance is getting annoying. While we have the resources to hire any needed home services, we are staring to notice that maintaining our home is getting annoying. We find that there are several housekeeping duties that we simply do not want to do. For example, we know logically that anything involving a ladder should be out of the question. But we still find ourselves on ladders, changing light bulbs and trimming the taller vegetation on our lanai. We will enjoy living in a CCRC, where we won’t care how many people it takes to change a light bulb because we won’t have to do it.

It’s not “the home,” it’s resort living. During 20 years of retirement, we have been fortunate to be able do all the “normal” retirement activities (such as traveling, playing with grandbabies, golfing, gardening, etc.). Once we’d done all of those things, we found ourselves asking “what’s next?” Part of our CCRC requirements was to find a community with vibrant and compatible Independent Living amenities and a location with services that are more like a resort than “the home.” At Plymouth Harbor we look forward to making new friends, doing some traveling, and coming home to our resort condo.

Let the kids live their lives. This reason needs to be listed, but we each justify it in our own way.

Listen to those who know. We visit Plymouth  Harbor on a regular basis, making a point of talking with residents. We’ve asked the obvious questions, and the answers vary. But one question elicits the same answer. When asked: “Would you do it again?” the answer is: “Yes, but I wish I’d done it sooner.” That response has been repeated so many times we include it as our final reason for pulling the trigger.

Now you know our reasoning for moving. We have put a down payment on one of the soon to be built units, and plan to rent an apartment until our unit of choice becomes available. If you’re on the waiting list, pick an entry age that works for you and make it happen! “Do it sooner.



PlymouthHarbor50Logo (2)Fifty years ago, on January 15, 1966, Plymouth Harbor opened its doors to the first residents of our community. While much has changed since then, the original dream and vision of our founder, The Reverend Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, has remained constant.

The concept of Plymouth Harbor was certainly ahead of its time. To conceive a community for older adults that would allow them to live and age gracefully together in an enriched homelike environment offering a full continuum of amenities and services, including healthcare, is admirable. From raising the funds necessary to make this community a reality, to bypassing height restrictions to build our 25-story tower, Plymouth Harbor is truly a living and breathing miracle today.

The Reverend Dr. MacNeil was a force to be reckoned with. After moving to Sarasota, not only did he contribute to a substantial increase in membership for the First Congregational United Church of Christ, but he spearheaded the efforts to establish “a college of quality” in the region, known today as New College of Florida.  Next on The Reverend Dr. MacNeil’s list was to establish a retirement community where older adults could age with both grace and dignity, among friends. On March 14, 1961, records of the church contain a motion passed by the “Retired Community Planning Committee,” which consisted of five church members and The Reverend Dr. MacNeil. It was here that the Plymouth Harbor, Inc. Board of Trustees was established. Plymouth Harbor, even though it was not yet named, was born, and The Reverend Dr. MacNeil had been in town less than four years.

Once designed, an official groundbreaking ceremony for Plymouth Harbor took place on July 4, 1964. The tower was built in 16 months — an extraordinary pace. Essentially, one floor was completed per week, and upon completion, the tower had a total of 343 apartments. Since then, as a community, we have endured hardships, overcome obstacles, and surpassed expectations of what traditional retirement living looks like. Overall, the first 50 years in the history of Plymouth Harbor have revealed a commitment to innovation, perseverance, and excellence that serves as the model for many decades to come.

The future is bright for Plymouth Harbor, with an increasing emphasis on the many aspects of successful aging. In the coming years, we hope to continue to be the preferred community for multi-generations of older adults who desire an active lifestyle that challenges their physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being.

As the phrase coined for our 50th Anniversary states, Plymouth Harbor celebrates our past and envisions our future. We recognize that without the efforts of The Reverend Dr. John Whitney MacNeil and his group of visionaries, Plymouth Harbor would not be here today.

We pay tribute to that notion and are grateful to the countless staff, residents, donors, and members of the community who contributed to our success. In their honor, Plymouth Harbor continues to seek ways to innovate, improve, and stay relevant for both our current and future residents — who we hope will enjoy Plymouth Harbor for more than 50 years to come.

Thank you for choosing to be a part of Plymouth Harbor. We are thrilled that you’re here to ce
lebrate a spectacular 50 years with us. We hope you will join us on May 23, 2016 for our second annual MacNeil Day, this year celebrating our 50th Anniversary.