By Celia Catlett

DombrowskiIn the elevator on my way to interview the Dombrowskis, a resident of their colony told me, “You will really like them.  They’re the nicest people.”  After spending time with them, I certainly agreed.

Both Kathryn and Hal (as he likes to be called) were born in Detroit, Michigan.  During World War II, Hal enlisted in the Marines and served in the First Armored Amphibian Battalion from 1942 to 1945 in the Pacific.  He participated in the invasions of the Marshall Islands, Guam and Okinawa.  He says he realizes how lucky he was that he was never wounded during these crucial battles.

Returning to Michigan after the war, he worked for ten years with the Chrysler Corporation as a purchasing agent.  The knowledge he gained led him to a successful career with Douglas & Lomason Company (now Lomason Division of Magna International), which makes the type of automobile products he had been purchasing.  During his twenty-six-year tenure he became Vice President and Sales Manager.  Kathryn used her dual skills in language and math as a secretary for a credit manager, salary payroll manager, and finally for the director of the military division of a trailer company.

Kathryn and Hal met on a blind date arranged by her future brother-in-law who was dating her sister.  The Dombrowskis were married a year later, followed by the other two.  Each couple has been married for more than sixty years!

Michigan has been Kathryn and Hal’s home for the majority of their lives, but in 1970 they bought a condo on Longboat Key where they lived first part-time and then full-time before moving to Stoney Brook.  They still have a condo in Elk Rapids on Lake Michigan.  Hal was an avid fly fisherman and a charter member of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.  Kathryn joined him in volunteering during Elk Rapids’ annual Harbor Days festival.  Her interests were golfing and cross-stitch embroidery.  Both have been members of the Birmingham (Michigan) and later the Stoney Brook country clubs.

When they first came to Sarasota in 1964 to visit Kathryn’s father, they saw Plymouth Harbor being built.  Little did they know then that someday they would live here, but are delighted that this is where they have landed – a perfect place for a couple who always loved being on the water.  Extend them a warm welcome.



We must be clear, Plymouth Harbor will not be hosting the official PBS Antiques Roadshow on our campus, but we have had the next best thing here for three years in a row!  Bruce Crissy of Crissy Galleries is an antiques expert on par with the ones we watch on TV and we are proud that he has agreed to return to assess our treasures on Friday, November 14 from 2pm to 4:30 pm in Pilgrim Hall.

aroadshow-providence-ri2_t614We know you must have something you have always wondered about. Perhaps its a painting, an old watch,or  a piece of jewelry.  Our  astute Bruce Crissy will examine it and give you his opinion on its origin, its history, its worth. Who knows? You might have the next million dollar discovery!  Or you might find you could get an extra buck or two for that old thing…  Either way, we’ll have lots of fun.

This is always a popular event so please only One item per person. We want everyone to have a chance to uncover a hidden treasure!

Towler LyonNancy Lyon and Tom Towler live in a light-filled, sixteenth-floor residence decorated with charming paintings which, upon inquiry, Nancy gracefully acknowledges as her own work. Nancy and Tom—as individuals and as a couple—are as busy and as pleasant as their home is full of light and far-reaching views.

Tom Towler visited Siesta Key for the first time in 1931. Tom will tell the story—1931, Siesta Key, 4 years old—and then, with a twinkle in his eye, admit that he doesn’t really remember much about that trip. Still, his visit would be the beginning of a life journey that would lead back to Sarasota, with just a stop—or two—along the way. Nancy Lyon’s path towards Sarasota and Plymouth Harbor was more circuitous, but Tom and Nancy have arrived together at the same place, at the same time: busy, happy, and engaged in the community, both inside and outside Plymouth Harbor.

Nancy grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, on a farm, with mother and father and two brothers and a retired Ringling Brothers circus pony—black with white front socks and a white blaze—named Princess. Tom was raised in West Norwalk, Connecticut, the son of Julliard graduate Lucile and Dartmouth graduate Eugene, an ad salesman for the Curtis Publishing Company, publishers of County Gentleman, Ladies’ Home Journal, and The Saturday Evening Post.

Tom followed his father and his uncle to Dartmouth, where he played varsity lacrosse. Tom continues to support Dartmouth’s lacrosse program—which has expanded to include women’s teams—and is immortalized as a member of the College’s all-time lacrosse roster. Tom is also a regular contributor to the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine’s Class of ’49 Class Note, which chronicles the activities of his classmates.

Nancy graduated from Vermont College in 1964, with a degree in Home Economics. She met her husband-to-be, Bob Lyon, an MIT graduate, at a church picnic. Bob and Nancy were married in 1967 and had two children: Amy and Andrew. Bob went on to work at Grumman Aerospace for 35 years as an electronics engineer; Nancy enjoyed a 10-year position as a social secretary after her children were grown.

Tom’s college education was interrupted by three years spent in the Army infantry.

After his military service, Tom married Sue, and returned to Dartmouth to complete his history degree. Sue and Tom would have a family of four children: Ned, Jill, Jon, and Bill. Tom’s professional career included positions at Standard Oil, Mobil Oil, and Baldwin-United, Inc., and stints as CEO of Top Value Enterprises and Peyton’s, Inc.

When Nancy and Bob retired to Sarasota, they initially lived in the north part of the county. Nancy recalls how much Bob loved Sarasota’s downtown, its cinema and the arts. Nancy and Bob embraced volunteer activities at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Memorial Hospital, and Mote Marine Laboratory, where Bob helped to write the organization’s volunteer manual. Nancy continued to volunteer at both the hospital and Mote following Bob’s death in 2007 and recently saw the passing of two important milestones at each organization.  In 2013 Nancy was one of two Sarasota Memorial Hospital Auxiliary volunteers to give flowers to the very first patient at the new Courtyard Tower orthopedic unit on the Tower’s opening day, and in 2014 she was honored at Mote’s Volunteer Awards Ceremony with a 15-Year Award.

Nancy’s mother moved into Plymouth Harbor after, according to Nancy, “she looked at every retirement home in Sarasota.” Until her death at age 91, Nancy describes her mother as “still very much involved in the outside community” and remembers her as a world traveler, talented homemaker, and fabulous cook.

After Tom and Sue retired to Sarasota in 1985, Tom became a commercial real estate appraiser, a position he continued until 1997. Tom and Sue began to volunteer actively at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where Tom met Bob. In 2008, Tom won an at-large seat on the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board, where he currently serves as Secretary. In addition to his commitment to the Hospital, Tom has also served as a trustee on the boards of the New College Foundation, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Siesta Key Utility Authority, and The Field Club.

Tom’s sister Jane Smiley, a Smith College graduate and the first woman vice president of Florida-based retailer Burdines, moved into Plymouth Harbor in 2003 and, according to Tom, loved it. Tom and Sue would follow Jane, moving into Plymouth Harbor in 2009. Shortly after they moved in, Sue died, following a brief illness.

Nancy and Tom have been together since 2010. Both have nothing but praise for Plymouth Harbor, its ambience, and its staff, which Nancy characterizes as kind and thoughtful. Tom, who serves on the Plymouth Harbor Foundation board, mentions Plymouth Harbor’s great leadership and tremendous employees, praise indeed from a man who has been at the helm of billion-dollar companies.

In August the couple visited Paris, enjoying a 28-day sea crossing, and in October Nancy travelled to China. Their Plymouth Harbor home, with its Sarasota sunlight and Nancy’s lovely paintings, is always welcoming when they return.

BelchersBy  Isabel Pedersen

Writing about Marie and Tom Belcher is challenging, particularly because their responses to our questions were so gracefully written and so complete.  Insofar as possible, we will be using  their words.

Tom, born in Los Angeles, grew up moving often with the Navy assignments of the uncle and aunt who raised him. After four years in the Air Force during the Korean War, he enrolled at San Francisco State College, graduating in business administration with a concentration in insurance.  Later, he completed a five-year program leading to the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation.

From college, Tom joined Aetna Life and Casualty Company and spent 35 years in positions ranging from trainee to an “eight-year stint as Vice President of Aetna International,” traveling and, at times, living around the world.  He sat on the boards of companies in Chile, Spain and Australia.

Marie grew up in Buffalo as the middle child of a thoracic surgeon, from a large Brooklyn Lebanese family.  He and her mother, a nurse anesthetist, served near the front lines in Africa, Italy and France in WWII.

Marie’s study at the State University of New York in Buffalo ended in 1969 with a B.S. with Distinction in industrial relations and finance, plus an election to Beta Gamma Sigma.   “In 1969, there was still a bias against women in management in the corporate world” so she began her career at Aetna in the mailroom looking for files for unmatched mail.  “Someone recognized me being mismatched in my unmatched mail assignment and asked about my career goal.  I replied, ‘to be president of the company’.  Well, needless to say, that didn’t happen, but when I left Aetna in 1991, I was Vice President for Property-Casualty Underwriting.”  Marie, after Aetna, became senior vice-president of another insurance company and then went on to develop an executive search firm specializing in senior financial positions which she and Tom (retired from Aetna in 1996) enjoyed running until they closed it in 2001, fortuitously just before 9/11.  Volunteering and then working with a local author and philanthropist and running a private foundation filled the time until 2010, her final retirement.

“Some say you must kiss a few frogs before you find your prince, and my prince came into my life in 1989, when Tom and I moved from friend stage to romance.  We had known each other for 15 years in business, but the world for both of us had changed, and in 1990 we were married.  Tom arrived with two wonderful children, Andrew and Susan.  Andrew was still afraid of monsters, ran like the wind and baked cookies with me.  After living with us for a year, Susan went off to find herself.”  She found herself in Eugene, OR, where she still lives with her husband and son, running two small businesses.  Since Tom’s son is in the restaurant business in Portland, the Belchers settled into their own condo in Portland for the summer months.

Their local lives include St. Thomas More Church and, for fun, tennis, golf (badly, says Tom), fishing, bridge, wellness activities, travel and for Marie, add to these fibre arts and painting.  We just hope this busy pair will leave some time for Plymouth Harbor.  It will be fun to get to know them.

donate a bicycleDo you remember when you bought a new bicycle for your daughter because she outgrew the old one?  But the old one wasn’t really that old, and there were so many good memories of it rolling down the hill as your daughter learned how to ride it.  Or remember when you went in search of THE BEST VIOLIN EVER for your son, only to find that he played it for one year and then decided to switch to band instead of orchestra?

What did you do with that old bicycle and violin?  I’ll bet you didn’t throw it away.  I’ll bet you gave it away to the next person that was searching for the BEST EVER.  Remember how good you felt when you knew you had made someone’s day?

Recently Plymouth Harbor helped make the day of many people by donating formerly used items that were being replaced during renovations and equipment upgrades.

The Boys & Girls Club was extremely happy to receive the ballet barres, exercise mats, and a treadmill from the former fitness room.

All Faiths Food Bank will receive the Dinex insulated tableware from the Smith Care Center when it is soon replaced.

Treviso Restaurant at The Ringling was grateful to receive an Alto-Shaam food warmer when we replaced it this year with new equipment.

Thanks to Chris Valuck, Rene Weder, and Danielle Menzies for identifying that these items had more life in them, finding them a new home, and making someone’s day!

Wellness Florida Retirement Community

Staff work with residents Jeanne Manser and Geri Johnson to assess gait and balance functionality.

The Health Services Team hosted an open house recently at Plymouth Harbor to highlight the wide breadth of Therapy Services available to residents and community members in this continuing care retirement community.

The Open House provided residents with a glimpse of both the therapy and nursing services offered to them. Physical, Occupational and Speech therapies showcased a diverse and energetic approach to rehabilitation and the spectrum they have to offer the residents. Nursing services from the skilled nursing center, assisted living, and home care  provided blood pressure screenings and insight to the total package of caring individuals within their building. The focus of this Open House was to address the “One Stop Shopping” for meeting their healthcare needs at Plymouth Harbor.

“We decided to do this in a fun, expo-like format, so that our residents would have a good time while getting to know the breadth of services that are available to them here,” says Joe Devore, Vice President of Health Services.  “Some of our residents are not aware that full therapy services are right here at Plymouth Harbor for their convenience.”

The entire room was buzzing during the afternoon as residents visited station after station to assess their own functional levels in balance, cognitive memory recall, endurance, and even blood pressure.  Residents could also sign up to volunteer in the Smith Care Center if they have interest.

Many residents came out to the Open House to learn more about the therapy services offered.  Visitors could register to win the drawing for a gift basket.

Many residents came out to the Open House to learn more about the therapy services offered. Visitors could register to win the drawing for a gift basket.

Staff in occupational, speech, and physical therapy led the balance, endurance, and memory cognition assessments.  Greg Carvajal, who works with our therapists and led part of the assessments, added, “We are looking for fall risks and functional deficits during these assessments. If we detect any here, we can recommend that they follow up with the staff at a later date, and hopefully avoid serious injury.”

Gina Kanyha, Director of Rehabilitation Services at the Smith Care Center, hopes to introduce the residents to the therapy staff.  “Our goal was to bring the faces of the team to all residents and let them know who we are and that we are there for them.  This also gives us an opportunity to showcase the services we can offer.”

Also available during the open house was staff from the Smith Care Center, Home Health Services, and Assisted Living.  “We are here to provide services for our residents and building that relationship early, even before they ever need our health services makes it so much more comfortable for all of us when and if the need arises,” said Stacy Baker, Director of Nursing Home Health.

Plymouth Harbor Dance Studio active senior living in floridaFriday, September 12 was a remarkable day at Plymouth Harbor, with sunlight streaming through floor-to-ceiling windows into what was once a darkened “dungeon” of the main building’s ground floor.   At 10:00 a.m. the doors to the soon to be christened 10,000 square foot Wellness Center swung open to welcome residents, donors, trustees, and the media.  The ribbon-cutting and ensuing celebration had begun.

The curious crowd wandered through the exceptionally well-appointed social area and into the Fitness Room, eager to learn about the state-of-the-art strength-training, cardio, and balance equipment.  The pristine Art Studio drew visitors as well, imagining what has yet to be created at each of the 20 artist stations. And the more adventurous tried their hand at the xBox Kinect gaming system in the Activity Alcove.

Plymouth Harbor Wellness Center Active Senior living floridaHowever, when the program began all eyes were on President & CEO Harry Hobson as he welcomed and thanked the many people who helped make this long-time dream a reality. Among them were the team of staff and architectural/construction partners who did the heavy lifting, led by Vice President of Support Services Tena Wilson, Wellness Director Chris Valuck, Building Project Manager George McGonagill, and partners from THW Design and Willis A. Smith Construction.  Harry paid homage, as well, to two residents who were especially instrumental in developing the wellness plan, Lois Droege and Dr. Paul Groen.

Everyone was beaming as resident leaders, donors, and even some of their family members, were acknowledged. The Plymouth Harbor Board and the Foundation Board were well represented, proudly appreciating what had been accomplished under their watch.

Plymouth Harbor Wellness Center active senior livingAnd then, the music began … so to speak.  Honoring the very special contribution by the late Joanne Hastings, a resident who shared her vision and enthusiasm for a wellness center that embraced dance as well as many other creative aspects of wellness, two dancers made their entrance to a lilting waltz.  Professional dance instructor James Helmich and his 90-year-old partner, Gloria Moss, seemingly floated around the dance floor in tribute to Joanne Hastings’ long-time passion for ballroom dancing.

After the ovations for the dancers faded, it was time for the ribbon-cutting.  The honors went to Tena Wilson, Resident Association President and Trustee Mary Allyn, Board of Trustees Chair Tom Hopkins, and Harry Hobson.

Chris Valuck and Wellness Program Assistant Amanda Kirk say it’s been non-stop ever since, with a steady stream of residents taking advantage of the beautiful new facilities.

What a dream. What an accomplishment!

Louise PhillipsEach month, Plymouth Harbor staff are encouraged to nominate and vote on one of their peers to be honored as Plymouth Harbor’s “Employee of the Month.”

The hard-working individual to receive this honor for October 2014 is Certified Nurse Assistant (CAN) Louise Phillips.  Prior to joining the Smith Care Center team in July 2005 as a full time CAN, Louise had served residents of Plymouth Harbor in her capacity as a CAN on contract with the independent home nursing agency, Take Care of Sarasota.

Obviously, Louise made a good impression on Plymouth Harbor, or maybe it was the other way around!

Throughout her years at Plymouth Harbor Louise has received exemplary ratings on her appraisals for Job Knowledge and Quality of Work.

Here are some of the words used to describe her work ethic and professionalism:

Louise tends to her duties thoroughly and with great dedication.

  • Her ‘can do’ attitude is a strong influence on her team.
  • She is well liked by her peers and the residents, and has earned respect in her field.
  • Her vast experience helps her model the younger and newer staff into strong team players.
  • Her heart is good and she provides great care for the residents.
  • She is one of the pillars for the night shift and we are thankful that she is part of the night team.

Louise’s Employee of the Month nomination reads:  “Louise is a great C.N.A. She doesn’t mind going the extra mile and she is willing to help her co-workers in any way she can.  It is a pleasure to work with her.”

Congratulations, Louise. It’s an honor to have you on our team! 

Karen Novak demonstrates use of the remote for operating the electric patient beds.

Karen Novak demonstrates use of the remote for operating the electric patient beds.

Plymouth Harbor holds an annual Skills Fair that allows staff to demonstrate competence with nursing skills that are used daily to provide the most optimal care for the residents in the Smith Care Center, Home Health, and Callahan Center.

During the Skills Fair, specific stations are designed to address various topics such as order entry, dietary intake, skin care, transfer techniques, medication administration, lifts, bed alarms, Care Choices, and documentation.  Each staff member is required to complete fourteen stations and assure competence.

“This is an excellent way to keep everyone’s skills sharp and up-to-date on best practices and new equipment,” says Karen Novak, Director of Health Services.  “We have 100% completion with all passing the competency testing at the end.  We are very proud of our staff!”

The Skills Fair is offered annually to all health services staff members.  By the end of the second week, 150 health services employees will have rotated through the Fair.

Nancy Cressotti (Admissions Coordinator) and Monica Copeland (Nursing Supervisor) were present to administer the Electronic Medical Record skills competencies. Von Demosthenes (Clinical Mentor) prepared to discuss and advise on the content and enhancement of nursing documentation.

Nancy Cressotti (Admissions Coordinator) and Monica Copeland (Nursing Supervisor) were present to administer the Electronic Medical Record skills competencies. Von Demosthenes (Clinical Mentor) prepared to discuss and advise on the content and enhancement of nursing documentation.


Joe Devore (Vice President of Health Services), Stacy Baker (Director of Nursing Home Health), Liz Clark (Administrator of Callahan Center and Director of Home Health), and Brandi Burgess (Social Worker) administer the Home safety, transfers, and Advance Directives skills competencies.

Joe Devore (Vice President of Health Services), Stacy Baker (Director of Nursing Home Health), Liz Clark (Administrator of Callahan Center and Director of Home Health), and Brandi Burgess (Social Worker) administer the Home safety, transfers, and Advance Directives skills competencies.

Nurses Melissa Magac (Nursing Supervisor) and Karen Novak demonstrate use of patient lift with Shelia Strahorn (Certified Nursing Assistant).

Nurses Melissa Magac (Nursing Supervisor) and Karen Novak demonstrate use of patient lift with Shelia Strahorn (Certified Nursing Assistant).






Lauren Krause EE of MonthLauren Krause has always been a stand-out employee at Plymouth Harbor, but this month she was nominated by her peers and voted “Employee of the Month” for September 2014.

When she joined joined the Smith Care Center team in December 2001 Lauren worked as a  full time LPN.  In October 2007 she was promoted to Restorative LPN. Of course, we don’t all know what that means, but a quick Google search tells us that a restorative nurse assists patients who are in recovery from a surgery or illness with regaining their health and self-sufficiency.  Smith Care Center serves as a rehabilitation center for many residents and community members recovering from surgery, so Lauren’s specific skills are in demand.

In fact, she not only exceeds standard appraisal ratings for job knowledge, quality of work, decision making and attitude, but she is a tremendous asset to Plymouth Harbor.  Lauren’s expertise continues to enhance the team daily; she is always looking for ways to achieve better outcomes for our residents.

As a detail-oriented professional, Lauren quite resourceful.  Joe Devore, Plymouth Harbor’s Vice President of Health Services, calls her “Go-to Krause” because of her skills in resolving issues and finding solutions.  Everyone recognizes that Lauren’s strength lies in the fact that she knows who and how to pull the resources together to achieve her goal.

A long-time Floridian with two beautiful sons and loving husband, Lauren is a positive, radiant soul, who is well-liked by all.  One of her nomination letters summed it up:

“Lauren is a great team player, willing to go the extra mile to get something done when needed.  Lauren is compassionate with the residents and always has a smile on her face.  She is a great asset to the Plymouth Harbor family.”