Moving to a Warmer Climate: Independent Living
When Paul and Bertha Hooper moved to New Hampshire, they thought they had found the ideal retirement destination. Before ultimately deciding to head north, they had debated on several locations. The couple had plenty of potential areas to consider. They have been married for 60 years and during that time, they have moved every four or five years.
Paul’s career as a Fishery Biologist with the Fishery and Wildlife Service took the couple and their three children around the country. In addition to living in a variety of locations, Paul got the opportunity to visit federal lands in almost every state-including Alaska. “I loved the job, especially the work in the field,” he says. Spending his career outside, he says, was “like a vacation.” He continues, “People pay thousands of dollars to go on trips and have the experiences I had on the job.”
Bertha, a self-described “professional mother,” had her hands full with the couple’s son and two daughters. She recalls, “I was always busy making a home in the new places we moved.” The entire family benefited from the opportunity to experience so many different communities. Bertha notes that because of their lifestyle the children were “prepared for the big move to college when the time came.”
After 23 years with the Fishery and Wildlife service, Paul retired and the Hoopers made the move to New Hampshire. The couple quickly became involved in the local community and loved living in the country. They did not, however, like shoveling snow, raking leaves, or maintaining the large property. Paul explains, “The snow just got too deep, and we knew we needed to find a second place to retire.” Despite this realization, it took the encouragement of their children to get the Hoopers motivated to move once again.
“Our girls started sending us information about retirement communities,” says Bertha. Eventually, the couple narrowed their search to six communities and set out to tour each one. The trip took them from Southern New Jersey to Virginia Beach. Mallard Landing, an independent living community in Salisbury, MD, was their final stop on this whirlwind tour. Bertha admits, “By the time we got to Mallard Landing, we were tired, and we wanted to go home.”
Not wanting to cancel their appointment, the couple followed through with the tour. “We walked into the house, and I thought ‘This is my home,’” says Bertha. After the tour, the couple went home to make a decision. They sorted through an extensive list of pros and cons while choosing their second retirement home. Ultimately, they chose Mallard Landing because of the beautiful homes and active lifestyle it offers.
While preparing for the move, the Hoopers received information from Mallard Landing that included a calendar. They were browsing the calendar for interesting events when they noticed two familiar names listed in the anniversary section. The names were those of friends they had lost contact with nearly 40 years prior. Winston and Mary Sibert, now residents of Mallard Landing, had been close friends of the Hoopers. Winston had even served as the best man in their wedding.
Over the course of many years and many moves, the couples had lost touch. Initially, the Hoopers thought the similar names must be a coincidence. During their next visit to the community, they inquired about the Siberts and learned that they were their old friends, and, even more surprising, were about to be their next door neighbors. Paul remembers, “When we finally went next door to introduce ourselves, none of us even recognized each other.”
With their long-time friends next door, the Hoopers are eager to settle into their new home. After all of the unpacking and decorating is complete, they are looking forward to getting involved in some of the many activities that are available.