Partners in Love
By Christy Brudin
He was a newly elected president in search of quality advisors. She was a worthy, but reluctant vice president. Their unlikely partnership had results that no one could have imagined.
While Doug and Adele Trout were not taking over the Oval Office or formulating far-reaching social and economic policies, they were changing lives. They were leading the Residents’ Association at Cadbury at Lewes, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Delaware. They were also, quite unexpectedly, falling in love.
One of Cadbury at Lewes’ self-proclaimed “pioneers,” Adele moved to the community before its roads were paved. Shortly after moving, she was appointed as the corresponding secretary of the residents’ association. She served in that role for several years before being asked to run for president. Adele quickly declined, noting that she had too many other responsibilities, including family, education and church.
“Later, when Doug was elected president, I was asked to be his vice president,” Adele recalled. “I still thought I had too much to do, but they made a very compelling argument that I should step up and take more responsibility for this community that I cherish.”
Despite her initial reluctance, Doug and Adele proved to be natural partners. “We were just immediately compatible, and our sense of humor was really on target,” Adele said. Together, the new leaders were able to accomplish quite a bit for the community, but it was their work on a tribute for some close friends that transformed their partnership from professional to personal.
Doug and Adele worked long hours preparing a special send off for their Cadbury friends who were moving from the community to be closer to family. Doug remembered, “One evening, after we had worked on the project for some time, I was helping her put on her coat, and I turned her around and told her I wanted a hug. That really started it.”
“It was at that point that we started to become closer, and then within several months we were falling in love,” Adele recalled fondly. “Love really did capture us when we least expected it.”
The couple’s effortless courtship led to a simple proposal. “We were at his apartment, and he just said, ‘Will you marry me?’ I said, ‘I’m sorry; I didn’t hear you,’” Adele laughed as she recalled the moment. “He repeated the question, and I said, ‘Sure.’ That was it. We started planning the wedding that night.”In a mere five weeks, Adele and Doug made their own invitations, selected a venue and a minister, and planned every detail of the small but meaningful affair. From the beautiful chairs that they sat in at the chancel – because of Doug’s restricted mobility – to the carefully selected music, the couple made sure that every aspect of their wedding was personalized to their tastes. For two people who never expected to find love again, the January wedding was a great start to a new year and a new life.
Of course, neither Adele nor Doug is a stranger to new starts. Both moved from large family homes to Cadbury at Lewes after reviewing multiple retirement living options. While their paths to Cadbury were very different, they both knew that the community’s combination of a scenic beach location and full-service retirement living options would provide an unparalleled lifestyle.
A native of Lewes, Adele retired from the state government after 34 years of service. As the supervisor of the Sussex County museums, she had the opportunity to help establish new museums and improve exhibits and programs at existing facilities.
In addition to her work with the government, Adele was also the mother of four children. Widowed at 48, Adele remained in her family home and made the most of her independent lifestyle, traveling extensively and helping out with her eight grandchildren.
When Adele started to think about retirement planning, she considered moving closer to her children. Then she found Cadbury at Lewes. “I really couldn’t think of a better place to live than Lewes, and the community just seemed tailor made for me,” she said.
Since moving Adele is relieved that she no longer has to worry about home repairs and yard work and can instead spend her time giving back to the community. She volunteers with a nearby after school program for at-risk kids and is very active in regional Presbyterian Church activities.
Born in Detroit, Doug knew early on that he wanted to be a minister. After serving in the Army, he attended seminary in Chicago and served his own church in Michigan.
Just a few years into his career, Doug decided that he wanted to change directions and work with small colleges. He obtained a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Education from Michigan State University and was elected president of Tusculum College in Tennessee shortly after graduating.
“I had the rare opportunity to practice what I had written about in my doctoral studies,” Doug said. “I had such a good time doing this work that I decided to start my own business helping small colleges and universities improve their offerings and their bottom lines.”
Doug and his team focused on helping schools enhance their academic offerings, student recruitment efforts, fundraising efforts and campus life. “For more than 25 years, I worked with colleges and schools from Alaska to Arizona to Maine, as well as overseas in Rome, Jerusalem, West Africa, Bolivia and Bangkok, and it was just amazing work,” he said.After retiring from his position as the president of another small college in California, Doug moved to Virginia, where two of his seven children live. While he enjoyed his new home, he quickly realized that he needed to start planning for the future.
Suffering from a combination of severe arthritis as well as post-polio syndrome, Doug knew he needed to find an accessible living environment with the security of available care when he needed it. “I looked at CCRCs in Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia, but then I heard about Cadbury, and I just really loved it out here,” he recalled.
“The whole experience of moving into Cadbury and meeting all these new people, making all these new friends, has just been a very rich experience,” Doug said. Adele added, “I thought about all the practical reasons to move – the security, the dining, the lack of home maintenance – but it was a wonderful shock to me to form all these really high-quality friendships so quickly. That is golden.”
While finding friends is wonderful, Adele and Doug realize that finding a partner is simply amazing. After all, a great partner can make any endeavor easier, whether it’s running a resident association or building a new life. As Adele and Doug embark on their married life together, they are immensely grateful to have a partner in love.