This month marks the one year anniversary of the eTEAM.  If you don’t already know, the eTeam is comprised of volunteer youth who bring their patient smiles and tech savvy to Plymouth Harbor on Saturday mornings. Residents who feel they need some extra help or tutoring on new computers, smart phones, iPads or other devices that seem to confound even the most technologically oriented-adult of a certain age, schedule an appointment with the eSmart eTeam eTechnicians and solve a bundle of puzzles in one session.

We held our first eTeam clinic on June 8, 2013 and it has been a great success ever since.   Thank you to everyone who has asked the eTEAM for assistance – a fair number of our residents have participated.

Special accolades and showers of gratitude are due our wonderful eTEAM members:  Jared White, Paul Nicowski, Sarina Swalm, David Yaegers, and Marinna Okawa. A special word of good luck to David Yeagers who leaves us this summer to start his college studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Curious about what we’ve achieved?  Here are some interesting facts about the eTEAM usage, as of May 1, 2014:

Total Resident Visits: 335

Total Residents Served:110

Total Volunteer Hours:    218


Sue and Tom Elliott—who have been married 56 years—laugh as they finish each other’s sentences and each prods the other to tell life stories in which love of family takes center stage and Plymouth Harbor provides a constant backdrop spanning three generations.

The First Two Generations

It was Tom’s grandparents, Cary Rex and Hazel May “Eldean”—she a former second grade teacher and he retired from the Post Office—who first discovered Sarasota, moving into Plymouth Harbor from Lima, Ohio, in 1966, shortly after Plymouth Harbor’s completion. Tom has vivid memories of visiting Plymouth Harbor as a youth and being denied pie a la mode because it was considered TWO desserts!

Because Tom’s parents, Mary Virginia and Paul, visited his grandparents regularly, they purchased a part-time home at Sarasota Harbor West, before finally moving into Plymouth Harbor full time themselves; Paul lived at Plymouth Harbor for the next five years, until his death at 94, and Mary Virginia for the next twenty years, until her death at 96.

Tom doesn’t need any prodding to describe the courtship of his parents, who met in 1928, when his father Paul was a border in his grandparents’ Lima, Ohio, home. Mary Virginia, then 13, was “determined” that Paul would be her husband…someday. Despite family doubts and not a little opposition, their 1933 marriage would last more than five decades. Paul had an eclectic career, with stints at the WPA, managing construction work at the Toledo Zoo, and the Hickok Oil Corporation, before retiring from the Leonard Refineries in Alma, Michigan. Yet after that they owned and ran Elliott Gas & Oil in Gladwin, MI for ten years before retiring again. Only then did they move on to Florida.

The Story of Sue and Tom

Sue met Tom when he was 17 and she was 15; Tom was the president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship where a friend introduced them. As Sue recalls it, she needed a date for a dance and Tom happened to be handy. They hit it off and have been together ever since, only, as Sue says, “separated by circumstances occasionally.”

Sue graduated with honors from the University of Toledo with a degree as a medical technologist. Tom also attended the University of Toledo and then graduated from Alma College with a degree in Biology. Service in the Army and deployment to Schweinfurt, West Germany interrupted Tom’s education. During those three years of service, Tom says that he and Sue tried to see every castle and visit every museum in the area.

Returning to the States, Tom’s Master’s thesis reflected his interest in what he calls “maintainability”: the intersection between the manufacture of easy-to-maintain equipment and the proper training of equipment users in the maintenance of that equipment. Tom’s fascination with “maintainability” led to a position with newly organized Applied Science Associates (“The Problem Solvers”), where, he says he didn’t just “look forward” to going to work every day—he loved going to work; when he retired as CEO, Applied Science Associates had more than 150 employees and customers on three continents.

Sue and Tom lived in Butler, Pennsylvania, during this time, raising son Daniel and daughter Elizabeth. In addition to their busy careers and a happy family life, both found time for hobbies and activities in their community. An experienced private pilot, Tom taught management at the community college and served as the president of the Butler County Library board and on the board of the Butler City Library. Sue was a member of the Butler Symphony Board, active with the American Association of University Women, and a volunteer on a call-in suicide helpline. Tom smilingly describes Sue as a “semi-famous” quilter: after one of her quilts was featured in a quilting book, the quilt was displayed at Dollywood.

Sue and Tom are enthusiastic cooks and have grown orchids competitively. An early love of sailing led them to competitive sailboat racing, though nowadays, as Tom admits, they prefer more leisurely sailboat cruising.

Regular visits to Plymouth Harbor during their 50-plus-year marriage have given Tom and Sue an overview of both continuity and change. Even though they have witnessed three complete renovations of the dining room, Tom insists that the “warm and caring tone” of Plymouth Harbor, has remained constant. He believes that this consistent tone is due to the long-term relationship between staff and residents: “They enjoy each other’s company.” Tom also credits the close knit residential community itself, where, as he puts it, “People look out for each other.”

“The people here are so interesting,” adds Sue. “Everyone has a depth of character; there’s such a lot of culture here.”

These are only some of the many reasons they are excited about their soon-to-be new home at Plymouth Harbor. Tom and Sue expect to move into Plymouth Harbor after they complete the sale of their home in Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, sometime this coming winter.

Tom likes to tell the story of how his mother would “drag” visitors on tours of local retirement communities and would, upon returning to Plymouth Harbor, declare to Harry, et al with satisfied assurance that “this is the very best there is.”

While the story of the Elliott family’s powerful connection with Plymouth Harbor may be a bit unusual, spanning as it does three generations, it is just another lovely example of how Plymouth Harbor attracts active, go-getters to the Sarasota community—attracts them and keeps them.

It’s safe to say that Plymouth Harbor will continue to provide families—including the Elliott family—with pie a la mode for generations to come. “We’ve visited for so many years that people thought we lived here!” says Sue. “Now our children and our children’s children will visit us.”

By Helen Kelly

How often have we heard the anguished cry, “is there a doctor in the house?”  You may be surprised to learn there are several doctors residing at Plymouth Harbor.  I became aware of this as I was about to interview one of the new move-in couples, Dr. James & Harriet Ahstrom.  I questioned how long-time residents of River Forest, Illinois, had discovered Plymouth Harbor and was told they had recently been living at The Players Club on Longboat Key.

Upon setting up the interview, I was warmly greeted by Dr. Ahstrom at their North Garden apartment.  I learned he has been an Orthopaedic surgeon with a specialty in hand surgery.  His undergraduate degree was earned at the University of Richmond and his medical degree at Northwestern.  It was there paths crossed with Harriet who graduated with a degree in Bacteriology.

Dr. Ahstrom served in WWII and again in the Korean War when, as a Navy reservist, he was called back to serve from 1950-52 at the 4th field hospital in Taegu.  Among many distinguished memberships too numerous to mention, he was a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic surgeons, president of the Clinical Orthopaedic Society, has practiced in Oak Park and Downers Grove, Illinois, and the Shriners Hospital for children in Chicago.  He was a member of the Rotary Club Oak Park for 40 years and recently assumed membership in the Rotary Club of Sarasota Keys.

Prior to marriage, Harriet was Bacteriology assistant to the renowned Dr. Louis Sauer, originator of the triple vaccine for diphtheria, polio, and whooping cough.  She confided, however, that she became captivated by the role of wife and mother.  The Ahstroms are the parents of son, Jay, who resides in Wilton, Connecticut, and daughter, Jill, in Flourtown, Pennsylvania, who have gifted them with five grandchildren.

Harriet is obviously an enthusiastic decorator, evidenced by the explosive blue-and-white scheme that dominates their North Garden apartment.  Although very recent occupants, everything was in order and in place from furniture to wall decor.

The Ahstroms, no doubt, are a welcome addition to the Plymouth Harbor family.  However, the doctor is not “on call.”

She calls herself a free spirit, but Lanette Davis has a remarkably stable and loyal streak in terms of her service to Plymouth Harbor. It was forty-two years ago that her friend, May Byrd, suggested she interview for a job at Plymouth Harbor.  May had been working in Housekeeping Services and thought that her young friend was just the person Plymouth Harbor needed.  She called and got an interview that day. The next day Lanette received the news “you’ve got a job!”  She was just 22 years old and it was December 1972.

Lanette is originally from Marianna, Florida and the oldest of 9 children (5 girls and 4 boys).  She had left Marianna a while before and came to stay with a cousin in Sarasota, which seemed like a fine place to be.  However, not long after she had landed this first job at Plymouth Harbor it was necessary for her to take a leave of absence for a family emergency back in Marianna.  With family as a top priority, she upheld her responsibilities, but as soon as she could she returned to Sarasota and the job at Plymouth Harbor.  Marking 1974 as the start of her long tenure, she, with the entire Plymouth Harbor community, celebrated her 40th anniversary on the 30th of April. Lanette Davis, with her 40 years, is the longest serving employee in the history of Plymouth Harbor.

When asked how she came to stay for so long, she noted the caring culture of the entire housekeeping staff. Lanette spoke of residents with whom she had long relationships, who became family to her.  John and Fran Aulhammer come to mind with many others now gone.  Ruth Entrekin is a notable friend as well.  And it was not just the residents that she came to love. Many children and grandchildren of residents brought joy to her life and she to theirs.

Her supervisors and co-workers have been quick to report, “Lanette is a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.  Her residents on the 16, 17, & 18th floors love her.”

In fact, when Lanette had her 30th employment anniversary, all of her residents signed a Shining Star that read:  “For thirty years Lanette Davis has been a Shining Star of Plymouth Harbor and the lives of the residents of Colony Sixteen have been blessed by her loving, caring ways, her sparkling care of our apartments and her unfailing good nature.  She has brought sunshine into our lives and made it a pleasure to look forward to the hours she spends with us.  We lovingly congratulate her on her attaining this outstanding record of dedication toPlymouthHarbor and wish her many more years of good health and happiness.”

Residents also gathered on her 40th anniversary to shower her with love and appreciation. On this occasion, and when she was first surprised by a visit from CEO Harry Hobson and the entire senior staff early in the morning on April 29, Lanette was handed a bouquet of yellow roses, her favorite flower.

During that party, Ish Pedersen said she and her husband Norman felt very lucky that Lanette had been taking care of their home for 10 years. Of course she added, “She smiles all the time and gives wonderful advice!”

Surprised and feeling “a bit overcome,” Lanette graciously accepted the adulation and returned the love by saying, “You all are a ray of sunshine in my life!”

Away from the bustle of the gatherings, Lanette recalled the many fun times with her “housekeeping family.”  These were the signs of her free spirit being expressed. She speaks of friendly pranks of teasing of her co-workers as she stirred up ways to have fun.  In her own way, Lanette laid down her own set of rules. If someone came to her singing a tale of woe she’d say, “We’ll have none of that!”

“I believe in having fun and keeping things bubbly,” she added. “I don’t want any of this depressing negativity.” Now, that’s the likely source of this ray of sunshine.

It was one of her friends and co-workers, Bea Davis who introduced her to her husband now of 28 years.  Thanks to Bea for arranging that meeting with her husband’s brother Bobby Davis, Sr.  Together that have parented their blended family of six: Tameka, Dewey Jr., Bobby Jr., Lisa, Yolanda, and Angela and has several grandchildren.

Her oldest daughter, who lives nearby in Sarasota, is her partner in crime as the enjoy many of the same leisure time activities.  Well, one in particular: shopping.

“We’re two peas in a pod,” Lanette says. They like to go anywhere as long as there is shopping involved.

In fact, Lanette has said that if she had all the money in the world she would buy a cruise ship and cruise from coast to coast with her entire extended family. What would they do in each port of call?  The world travelers would shop until they dropped!

Then she says she would return to her own island and write a book titled, “How Plymouth Harbor Turns”. We all know, that will be some story!!  Congratulations, Lanette!

Memorial Day is an important day in America, as it is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.  We are very grateful for what these soldiers did for our country, and for what they have done to make life better for us.

This Memorial Day, let us also remember those close friends and family we have loved and lost over the years.  We see more loss in the senior living industry than some others, as those we serve are perhaps a bit closer to the winter of life than the spring.  However, what strikes me as one of the most rewarding aspects of the retirement industry is that we are able to spend these important years with our residents and community members—those years when we are done proving to the world who we want to be, but accept and find comfort with who we are.  Wisdom, confidence, generosity, and warmth are qualities that describe most of those age 70+ whom I know and have come to respect and enjoy immensely.

This Memorial Day, say a little prayer for your loved ones who graced our world and left, knowing that each of us leaves the world a little better than it was when we arrived.  The Plymouth Harbor Foundation is grateful for the many gifts over the past year made in memory of the friends and family listed below.

Remembering with Gratitude
Zach Abuza
Barbara Argenti
Katherine Barbera
William Beckert
Gil Bosse
Gloria (Glo) Broderick
Sally Brown
Sheldon W. Brown
LuVerne Conway
Wendy Gremban
Lydia & Marco Hecht
Frank Heider
Gordon Jones
Ranier Josenhanss
Donald Kerr
Harley Koets
Jenny Lassen
Gena Magoon
Robert McNulty
Robert Merrill
Hope Mitchell
Betty Monroe
Jeanne Nunn
George Peters
Walter Schachtel
Dan Siesel
Tena Underwood
Tom Vandervalk
Elton & Penny Yasuna

 The Reverend Dr. John Whitney MacNeil

One special person we can all remember and be thankful for on Memorial Day is the Reverend Dr. John Whitney MacNeil, who would have celebrated his 103rd birthday on the 29th of this month.  Indeed, the Reverend Dr. MacNeil left this world a good deal better as a result of his visionary leadership.  The founder of Plymouth Harbor, the Reverend Dr. MacNeil and his small group of rainmakers set out in the early 1960s to build a retirement community of distinction, and in 1966 Plymouth Harbor opened its doors.  He was also the driving force behind New College.  As a man who some said would never reach the peak of his ambitions, he truly made a tremendous impact on Sarasota during his tenure here.  The Reverend Dr. MacNeil died in 1979, at the young age of 68.

Plymouth Harbor may not be able to find a more enthusiastic advocate and admirer than resident Ellen Harrison.  Sitting down over coffee in the Plymouth Rock Café, she was sure offer up the seats with the best view to her guests remarking on the unbeatable scenery of Sarasota Bay and the nearby mangroves.

Of course the purpose of our interview is to talk about Ellen and her many life experiences, but she was determined to pair anything she divulged about her personal life with some factual information or praise for the remarkable community of Plymouth Harbor.

And so it is remarkable, but it was Ellen’s mother who discovered that for herself first.  Ellen and her late husband, Vance, fell in love with the architecture of Plymouth Harbor, as well as Sarasota’s warm weather and many art-related activities while visiting her mother.

The couple lived in Winnetka, Illinois where she taught at Winnetka Junior High School. She and Vance had met while students at Cornell University. Once married, they moved to Connecticut where Ellen earned a master’s degree in Education at the University of Connecticut. Vance’s work in radio and television eventually landed the family—which now included four children—in Chicago, where Ellen was a docent at the Art Institute for 15 years.

Shy to speak of her adventures, this native of Kinston, North Carolina, only glancingly described moving to New York with her mother after her father died. Ellen was in high school at the time and left to fend largely for herself while her mother studied at Columbia University.

Despite her reticence to share her stories, Ellen has never hesitated to get involved volunteer for many years in Winnetka civic and community activities including the League of Women Voters, Junior League, social services and youth activities. When she and Vance moved to Plymouth Harbor in 2002, Ellen got involved in some of Plymouth Harbor’s many resident committees.

Within those first years, Ellen was active with the Program, Décor, and Library committees. “The library is run completely by the residents,” she said beaming with pride. “We add ten to twelve new books each month. There is an enormous amount here at Plymouth Harbor to keep your mind and body going.”

“Plymouth Harbor is so very different from most other senior communities,” Ellen points out. “Our committees tackle important tasks and get things done.”  She is the person who would know.  After serving as chairman of the Program Committee she was elected to serve as President of the Residents Association. In this capacity, she represented residents on the Plymouth Harbor Board of Trustees for a total of 6 years.

There are always three residents serving on the Board of Trustees at any given time. They are the Resident Association President-Elect, current President, and Immediate Past-President. During her years on the Board, Ellen saw major renovations of the lobby and dining rooms, electrical upgrades throughout the community and the groundbreaking for the new Wellness Center still under construction.

Much of the success, she feels, can be attributed to CEO Harry Hobson, who she describes as “very approachable.” Ellen says unequivocally, “We’re lucky to have him.”

The feeling is probably mutual.  At a recent Residents Association meeting Harry Hobson acknowledged Ellen for her outstanding work on the council from 2011-2014 and praised her as a consensus builder.  Ellen’s first official duty was the ribbon cutting upon completion of the Northwest Passage connecting the tower mezzanine and the West Garden.  Now at the end of her term of service, she was presented an award for her conscientious and outstanding leadership.

For the first time in many years, she has few official obligations and she is looking forward to some extra spare time to relax and enjoy her reading. In May, she’ll travel to Martha’s Vineyard where she will vacation with family as she has done for many years.

While she does enjoy these summers up North, I bet she will miss Plymouth Harbor, or at least her time in the dining room! Ask her about the food and her eyes light up. “This is the best food I’ve ever had!” she says. “I love asparagus, and here it’s always perfect. Chef René really cares.”

As if on cue, our discussion ends and 20 or so culinary-minded residents come into the cafe on time for Executive Chef René Weder’s weekly “Café Chat.” Chef Rene, white-clad and complete with chef’s hat, arrives, and a lively conversation ensues.

 Many people listen to music while exercising for enjoyment, but can music during exercise actually benefit an individual in more ways than just entertainment?

According to a review study that observed the effects of incorporating music into exercise, there may be a health benefit associated with listening to music during exercise!

It was found that people were more motivated to participate in exercise and their exercise capacity increased whenever music was involved.  Balance, execution of daily activities, overall mood and life satisfaction were also improved.  Music also “enhanced adherence and function of individuals suffering from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.”

So, turn up your favorite tunes and enjoy!

 Reference:  Ziv, G., & Lidor, R. (2011). Music, Exercise Performance, and Adherence in Clinical Populations and in the Elderly: A Review. Journal Of Clinical Sport Psychology5(1), 1-23.

By  Lee Yousri

Let me explain the “Happy” immediately.  While Nancy (that’s the correct moniker) was overseeing a group of Girl Scouts, it was a requisite that everyone have a nickname.  Her brood bestowed “Happy” on her which stuck forever more; and rightly so—we have here an enthusiastic lover of life.

Although Happy was born in Buffalo, she can barely claim New York State as her birthright since the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee, when she was six weeks old.  She met Wally, a true Floridian, (yes, actually, he was born in Lakeland and stayed there) through a friend and they found the dovetailing of their interests as well as their shared roster of friends was nothing short of uncanny.  This was the second “go-around” for each of them and it was meant to be; they met in March and were married in June, thirty years or so ago, according to Happy.

Happy made use of her degree in Chemistry and enjoyed many interesting and satisfying positions.

One of the highlights was a published paper in the Journal of Chromatography concerning the identification of amino acids.

Her hobbies are as diverse as crocheting and flying—yes, as a pilot—besides scuba diving, “beanie babies,” and bridge.

Another activity, boating, is connected to Wally, so let’s go to him.  Wally earned a degree in Business from the University of Florida after two years at the University of the South in Sewannee, where he pledged Sigma Nu.  He worked in the field of agricultural chemicals.  When he retired, he got a Coast Guard Masters license and a passionate love of the water burgeoned into a lifetime of pleasure on the seas.

After some escapades in smaller boats, the Grahns became the proud owners of a Hatteras 45-foot “sport fisherman.”  They went on countless excursions to the Keys and the Bahamas and have many a tale to tell.

One of their most interesting experiences was the tagging of a marlin.  After it is caught, a pole reaches towards the dorsal fin and is embedded there.  A note in plastic is attached to the edge, stating when and where it was caught.  This informs the second person who might reel it in as to how far it has migrated and this information is reported to the Bill Fish Association.  As an aside—Wally is also passionate about gourmet food and is an excellent cook.

To conclude:  Wally has two living children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren to which Happy adds her two children and five grandchildren.  They have had an adventurous life; we hope Plymouth Harbor won’t be too tame for them!

Thank you to everyone who generously supported the CD offering from Ted and Fran Rehl from his latest concert, Piano à la Carte.  In total over the last three concert CD offerings, we received support of over $3800.  This made it possible to move ahead on the replacement of the hammers on the Steinway.  By the time you read this, the work will be close to completion.

Tracy Lamb removing the old ‘hammers’ and preparing for their replacements



Photo Below: The old (darker) hammers are on the left and the new (lighter) hammers on the right

If you are not familiar with Ted Rehl and the story of the Plymouth Harbor concert grand piano, CLICK HERE for the story.

Moving into a single-family residence can be daunting, and moving into a new home within an entire community, like Plymouth Harbor, even more so!  Where do I pick up my mail?  Who can I ask to hang that mirror?  What do I do with all of these moving boxes?  These questions and many, many more will soon be answered with the New Resident Orientation Program.

‘Welcoming Committee’ co-chairs, B.J. Peters and Nancy Lyon, have been working closely with Tena Wilson, VP of Support Services, to develop a program designed to make each new resident’s transition to their new home as pleasant and stress-free as possible.

Contact for a new resident will begin as early as the day they sign their contract when they’ll be introduced to a ‘resident mentor’ who will familiarize them with their new colony.  Subsequent introductions to additional mentors will include invitations to participate in four separate resident-guided tours; The Grounds, The Ground Floor, The Lobby Level, and The Mezzanine.  A final staff-guided Staff & Services tour will take them through the various service departments where they will meet staff members available to assist them throughout their residency at Plymouth Harbor.  New residents can participate in as many or as few tours as they’d like.

New residents will also receive a personalized ‘Orientation Guide to Residency at Plymouth Harbor’ for future use as a handy reference.  Throughout this process you can count on members of the Welcoming Committee extending invitations to dine in Plymouth Harbor venues as well!