The Art of Appreciation–Waverly Heights
By Christy Brudin
Photography by Jim Greipp / Pau Hana Productions
Dr. Harold “Hal” and Linda Robinson both have had a lifelong passion for art. New residents of Waverly Heights, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Gladwyne, Pa., the Robinsons are also true masters of appreciation—whether they are analyzing art or enjoying retirement.
Born in Philadelphia, Hal attended the University of Pennsylvania for both his undergraduate studies and medical school. He began his residency at Bryn Mawr Hospital, where his career as a cardiologist spanned decades. He retired as the Chief of Cardiology at Bryn Mawr Hospital in 1999.
Five years before his retirement, Hal began pursuing his second career as a professional artist. “I dabbled in art most of my life, but I was never trained,” he said. “I started taking night classes to develop a portfolio, so I could apply to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.” Hal was accepted into the Academy and launched an exceptional new career as a painter.
After more than a dozen shows, including two at Waverly Heights, Hal has sold well over 60 paintings. More important than his success as an artist, though, is the joy it brings him. “I’m very uncomfortable when I’m not painting,” he said. “I’m in my own world when I’m at my easel, and it is such a wonderful feeling.”
Whether enjoying his long career as a cardiologist or his new work as an artist, Hal has always been able to appreciate the good things in life. Nowhere is that truer, than in his nearly 50-year marriage to Linda.
“I was Chief Resident at Bryn Mawr Hospital when she was a Freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. When I saw her at a dance, I knew I was going to marry her,” Hal recalled. Two years after that fateful encounter, Hal and Linda were married. The couple settled in Penn Valley and had two children. Prior to their recent move, they lived in the same home for most of their married life.
Also a native Philadelphian, Linda attended both the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova, attaining degrees in English, French and secondary education. However, she cites her most important educational experience as the adult education program at The Barnes Foundation.
“I studied at Barnes for three years while our children were young, and it really changed my life,” Linda said. “It is a very intensive program, and I learned how to look at a painting and understand what I’m looking at—not just the history behind it, but what was in the artist’s mind.”
Linda took that education back to the classroom at the Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, a college preparatory school for girls where she taught for 25 years. Having always taught literature, she now realized that she could not teach the humanities in isolation. Linda developed an innovative Humanities Curriculum that combines literature, history, art and music into one course of study.
“I am immensely proud that I was able to leave this legacy to the school,” said Linda. “They are still using my program today, and it is now one of their selling points.”
Since retiring, Linda has remained active with The Barnes Foundation. She was one of the first members of the organization’s docent program and still gives tours frequently. She is also now an instructor in the adult education program that was so instrumental in her life.
Several years ago, the Robinsons began to consider their retirement living options. “We started to think about eliminating the burdens of home ownership and planning for the future,” Hal recalled.
After looking at several communities in the Philadelphia area, the couple realized that one clearly stood out. “No other community that we looked at even compared to Waverly. From the beautiful setting to the amazing staff, this place really is far beyond comparison,” Linda said.
While moving from their longtime family home was challenging, the Robinsons have quickly settled into their new life at Waverly. “The process of selling our home of more than 40 years and preparing to move was one of the worst experiences of my life. It was really an ordeal,” said Hal. “However, it was quickly overshadowed by the wonderful experience of moving to Waverly.”
Since their move a little over a month ago, the Robinsons have received a warm welcome from Waverly’s staff members and residents alike. The couple has been invited to countless parties and already made several new friends. They have also reunited with some residents they met during Hal’s previous art shows at the community.
During his June show at Waverly, Hal asked Linda to give a presentation on art appreciation. “It was amazing,” he remembered. “She was in a room doing what she does so unbelievably well, and the room was filled with my paintings.”
The Robinsons have dedicated much of their lives to the love and appreciation of art. However, it is their admiration for each other, their gratitude for the community they call home, and the pleasure they take in living life to the fullest every day that really makes them remarkable.
“We can’t overemphasis how gratified we are to be here,” concluded Hal. “It’s like living in an arboretum. Every aspect of this community and the people who live and work here have made this phase of our lives beautiful.”
Hal and Linda may be Waverly Height’s newest residents, but they are already among its most vocal proponents. Between them, the Robinsons have a considerable amount of experience studying and analyzing. They know a good thing when they see it—whether it is a timeless work of art or a world-class retirement lifestyle—and they are not afraid to share their appreciation.
Published: November 2013