A Living Legacy–Dunwoody Village
By Christy Brudin
Everyone wants to leave a legacy. Whether it’s a family business, an accomplished offspring or a collection of worldly goods, most people strive to leave an impression on the world. While many people will succeed in making their mark, only a select few leave behind a legacy that continues to grow and thrive for generations: a living legacy.
William Hood Dunwoody left a legacy behind that has not only lived; it has flourished. A humble man with a deep respect for life and an appreciation for all mankind, Mr. Dunwoody applied these ideals by founding a home for convalescent men. In 1974, this home became Dunwoody Village, one of the Delaware Valley’s first continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). In fact, the long history of Dunwoody Village, which is located in Newtown Square, Pa., can be traced all the way back to a land grant made by William Penn in 1681.
Today, the residents of Dunwoody Village are the proud keepers of this legacy. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Dunwoody Village, and the residents are commemorating the milestone with a year-long celebration. With events ranging from a barn dance to an open house at the on-campus history studio, the celebration will include something for everyone.
“To have this historical perspective is amazing. It is so exciting that we can trace our lineage all the way back to 1681,” noted Norma Winther, the chair and founder of the community’s history committee.
“It’s fun to spend this time remembering how we got started and important to reflect on our goals,” added Pat McCarter, who served on Dunwoody Village’s Board of Trustees before becoming a resident.
Like many of their fellow residents, both women are proud of Dunwoody’s long history of providing an active and engaging lifestyle —a history they both benefit from in the present.
Norma moved to Dunwoody Village nearly five years ago, shortly after her husband of 57 years passed away. Admitting that an emotional pull was her primary deciding factor, she said, “Dunwoody just felt right; it was like a comfortable, old shoe from day one.”
Dunwoody also stood out for Norma because of its wide range of entertainment and activity programs. “Most of the programs here are run by the residents, and I felt that since I really liked the diversity of programs, I’d also like the people who created them,” she said.
From live musical performances to lectures by college professors, Dunwoody’s residents have no problem keeping their calendars full. In addition to special events, the community also offers a host of regular activities ranging from bridge to aerobics to woodworking to swimming.
For Pat, the decision to move to Dunwoody was easy. “From my time on the board, I had a pretty good feel for what Dunwoody was all about. I liked what I saw then, and I still do,” she noted. One of the primary draws for her was the community’s homelike environment and picturesque location. “The campus has a country feel, even though we can walk to Newtown Square and several shops,” Pat said.
Pat originally moved to Dunwoody with her husband, who passed away several years ago. While losing her husband was difficult, it was made easier by the fact that they had already established themselves in the community. “I never had to be alone. I have so many friends here who had already been through losing a spouse and could help me,” she explained.
Norma has had a similar experience. “I am never lonely,” she said. “In fact, we all wonder how we ever had time to do everything when we worked full time.”
One of the things that keeps Norma busiest is her work in the History Studio, an apartment that showcases historic documents. With the help of other residents and employees, Norma has built a mini museum packed with valuable materials that document a distinguished history.
Looking at the community’s history shows an impressive cultural shift in what it means to be older, noted Norma. “In the 70s, seniors started to rebel. They no longer wanted to be warehoused in a spare room in a family member’s home and sit and wait to die,” she said. “That was the impetus for communities like this—and that is still the great thing about living at Dunwoody. Here, we can still engage—still learn and grow and live.”
The residents at Dunwoody Village are very much engaged and continue to live full and exciting lives. Norma and Pat are just two examples of the hundreds of residents whose dynamic interests and zest for life have made the community such a great place to live for the past 40 years. Each and every resident of Dunwoody Village is, after all, part of a living legacy.
Published: July 2014