The Ultimate Move
Helen and Steve Low have always been vitally interested in international affairs. Their involvement in the Foreign Service for more than 30 years took them to some exotic parts of the world and enabled them to participate in important historical moments. Though these world-rounded individuals remain as busy as ever, they are ready to settle down in a home that can offer everything they need in the future.
“With the Foreign Service, we’ve made many moves, but this is different,” said Helen. “This is the ‘ultimate’ move.”
And for these D.C. residents of over 50 years, their ultimate move had to be to Fox Hill, a senior living community scheduled to open this year in Bethesda.
“We’re really looking forward to this transition,” said Helen. “We’ll still be inside the Beltway and can continue to take part in the many activities the Washington area offers – the social groups, the music and theater and other cultural aspects.”
It was that interest in different cultures that brought the Lows together initially. The two met in the early 1950s while attending graduate school at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. They were married in 1954 and joined the Foreign Service shortly after.
“I had done a doctoral thesis on the Philippines and Helen had studied India, so it was only natural that we would spend our career in Africa and/or Latin America. It was just a fascinating time,” said Steve. After helping open the first American post in Kampala, Uganda, followed by a tour in Senegal, they were sent to Brasilia soon after it was founded.
The Lows then traveled to Zambia where he had been appointed ambassador. It was a particularly interesting time as they were surrounded by wars on four sides. As the American leader of a joint British-American negotiating team, Steve helped reach a settlement that ended the war and provided for Zimbabwe’s independence.
Over the course of 31 years in the Foreign Service, the Lows spent half of their time in the U.S. where Steve was assigned to various positions in the Department of State including director of training at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. Following retirement from the Foreign Service, he spent five years in Italy as director of the Johns Hopkins University’s Bologna Center.
With such a diverse and interesting history, the Lows should fit well into the vibrant atmosphere of Fox Hill. Though the community’s close proximity to the cultural surroundings of D.C. was an appealing factor for the couple, they will also enjoy the community’s Performing Arts Center with scheduled concerts, shows and movies as well as its artists’ and recording studios.
The opportunities to stay active and connect with other residents, however, do not stop there. Individuals can socialize over coffee in Fox Hill’s own Winter Garden ‘town center’ or pamper themselves at the spa. The indoor virtual driving range, wine cellar, game room, swimming pool, fitness center and five dining venues are even more of the extensive amenities that can be found within the community.
With a variety of options, residents will enjoy flexibility and the chance to maintain self-directed lifestyles. The Lows are certainly pleased with this sense of independence as they plan to continue current projects outside of the community. Steve, for example, has been working with the State Department on establishing the National Museum of the History of American Diplomacy. “We think it’s important because there is no place in the U.S. devoted to looking at the history of our relations with the rest of the world,” he said.
His similarly busy wife has remained active over the past eight years with a group called Zambia Orphans of AIDS. “While it is a small group of volunteers headed by a remarkable Zambian woman, we have helped over 20 projects around the country,” said Helen.
Though they will carry on with those pursuits they are passionate about, they definitely plan to take advantage of all that their future home has to offer. One thing the Lows are sure to enjoy is the community’s beautiful nature trails. After looking at several potential communities, including those directly in the city, the couple felt Fox Hill would best serve as a successor to their current residence.
“The house we’re leaving has a fabulous Japanese-inspired garden that makes it very tranquil and serene,” said Helen. “Finding a place that had some greenery was important to us.”
Also important was security and the quality healthcare at Fox Hill that includes in-home healthcare coordination and on-site assisted living, memory care and occupational, physical and speech therapy.
“We’re both in our 80s and in good health,” said Steve. “We thought it would be a good idea to move into a community and get established while we’re still young and vigorous.” The couple said there is a sense of comfort in knowing that if something were to happen to either of them, the other could continue with a very nourishing lifestyle.
Following in their parents’ footsteps, the Lows knew this was a decision they did not want to place on their three sons living in Australia, Hawaii and Boston.
“It isn’t fair for them for us to leave the burden of settling us somewhere,” said Helen. “With families of their own and demanding jobs, we want this move to require as little effort from them as we can. Even so, all three have been immensely supportive.”
Together, the Lows have ensured that they are well-prepared for the future. They have selected a beautiful condominium and are among Fox Hill’s charter members, a group of early depositors. Individuals joining the community have the benefit of owning their residences and working with designers to personalize them.
The overall setup of Fox Hill, however, is just what the couple was looking for. Helen is especially delighted with the ample kitchen space and for having a place for both the piano and the harpsichord Steve built for her.
While they have close friends also moving to the community, the Lows have been able to meet other future residents at various events arranged by Fox Hill. According to Helen, the sessions have been very informative on many aspects of the move and have enabled them to compare notes on the overall transition with their peers. Future residents are also able to interact through Fox Hill Connection, an online virtual community where residents can chat with future neighbors, play online games, receive community updates and more.
As they approach their moving date, the couple looks forward to the secure, and of course, busy future ahead of them. With an excellent location, endless opportunities and no home-maintenance, they can enjoy the carefree quality of their new community while maintaining their independent and active lifestyles.
While these avid world travelers may not leave their suitcases on the shelf for long, they could not be more pleased with the wonderful new home to which they will be returning.