Elsa Price is an energetic, optimistic lady who sees many positives as she reflects on her life. “I have been blessed,” she says, “to have enjoyed 43 years with my late husband, Don Price, who made our life together seem like a fairytale!” During Don’s working years, they traveled throughout Europe, cruised aboard the QE to Paris, flew home on the Concord, and delighted in the joys they discovered wherever they went. It will be four years since Don passed in August 2011, and her obvious love and deep admiration for this remarkable man is ever present.
Their love affair ignited when Elsa reconnected with Don (10 years her senior) while she and the children were living in Michigan with family—Elsa was gainfully employed with the police department doing criminal record searches at the time. Elsa recalls vividly when Don came to visit, not having seen one another since childhood. It was “love in the moment” — tender and captivating, and they knew then that it was time to share their lives and their children: Elsa’s three daughters and one son, and Don’s two daughters became “our family” of six lively teenagers!
At age 42, when she and Don reunited, Elsa had already accomplished a great deal on her own. There were many challenges…the early loss of her parents and the equally tragic loss of her identical twin sister (they were mirror twins) to cancer when they were only 37 years old. The twins had always been inseparable, dressing alike well into their college years, and, of course, enjoying the baffled queries of young men who asked, “which one are you?!”
In late 1950, Elsa became a “farm girl” when she and the family were living in the beautiful Green Mountains of Manchester, Vermont. This was a real “working farm” with everyone sharing in the daily chores of milking their family cow, feeding the chickens, grooming the horses, breeding golden Labradors, raising their own beef, and cultivating their large vegetable garden which provided produce for both the summer and winter meals. During the winter season, part of their farmhouse was converted into a ski lodge, providing bunks for their guests who enjoyed the warmth of the big fireplace after a day on the slopes, and a hearty dinner around the farmhouse table.
Being adventurous by nature, Elsa found time to expand her horizons by learning how to fly at the local airfield. She ultimately became General Manager of the Morrisville-Stowe Airport that services General Aviation and small jets (very small jets as the runway is short and the mountains are very tall!). Curious to fly a small plane with no engine, Elsa experienced the awesome solitude of “soaring in a glider” as the thermals carried her over the mountains in a world of total silence…amazing!
Aviation appears to be a family trait as Don was an accomplished pilot in his own right, and as a very young man flew his single engine Belanca—solo—from Minnesota to São Paulo, Brazil in just four days. Their son, Jay, an Air Force Veteran, carries on this tradition as he pilots his own single engine, four place, Cirrus SR22 for both business and pleasure. As Jay and his wife, Leslie, live in Sanderling on Siesta Key, Elsa has been known to “hitch a ride” on occasion.
From “living off the land” to “flying high in the sky,” Elsa moved on to “life at sea.” Don introduced Elsa to boating, which became a way of life throughout their years together. Elsa recalls with pride that Don was a great captain, and was assured that she was the finest “first mate.” Being the proud owners of three motor yachts, all aptly named PRICELESS, they weathered their share of dangerous storms, skirted around “sea pirates,” and experienced many other exciting adventures at sea. Their yacht was berthed at the Sarasota Yacht Club (SYC), where Don was a highly respected Past Commodore. Both are also life members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
In 1981, Don retired, and Elsa and Don cruised the east and west coasts of Florida in search of their next home together. Sarasota captured their hearts: how could it not? They bought their home in Lido Shores, directly on New Pass, where they lived for ten years. Driving past Plymouth Harbor everyday, on the way to SYC, piqued their interest. After a “stop in,” Elsa and Don knew they had found their final home in the tower on the 23rd floor, with its endless windows, a vista of blue sky, spectacular sunrises, and water all around!
In 1993, at age 63 and 73, Elsa and Don became residents of the Plymouth Harbor family. Don, a natural leader and visionary, saw an immediate need for members of the Board of Trustees to be aware of the residents needs through a voice on the Board, proposing the appointment of at least one resident representative. “We now have 16 highly-qualified trustees,” says Elsa with pride. “Don was privileged to serve as a resident representative on the Board of Trustees from 1997-1998.” Following in his Dad’s footsteps, their son Jay was recently appointed Member at Large on the Board of Trustees of the Plymouth Harbor Foundation, and looks forward to being an integral part of Plymouth Harbor’s destiny, and perhaps, in time, a future resident!
“During my 23 years in residence, I have watched Plymouth Harbor’s continual advancement in every arena as our CEO, Harry Hobson, with his vision and dedicated focus, strives to ensure the ultimate in our senior care living to its full potential,” says Elsa. “I am very impressed with the many improvements over the years of the lobby decor, restaurant renovations, creation of the state-of-the-art Wellness Center, our Smith Care Nursing Facility, the imminent groundbreaking of our Memory Care Center, valet parking, errand cars, each amenity enhanced for the ultimate comfort of our residents.”
With a quiet acceptance, Elsa recalls Don’s decline with Alzheimer’s, and praises both the intensive training with Teepa Snow, who provided the tools to help her cope with caregiving, and the invaluable six-week course offered by the Friendship Center under the tutelage of Nancy Hobson. In this setting, Elsa remains forward-looking, focusing her energies on her health and healing to match her young spirit. In a philosophical moment, Elsa shares, “If you meet the challenges that life puts before you, strive to find that haven of peace and stillness, remain inspired and directed, search for the abundant goodness in those around you, then you will find that hope shines in every heart that believes.” Beaming with one final thought, Elsa reveals that a family reunion is planned the end of December 2015, a joyful time when family will gather together in the holiday spirit of sharing and creating magical moments and memories!