Exceptional Students to Exceptional Retirement Living Residents

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Edna Murray was the valedictorian of her high school in Roanoke, Va. and a top female executive at her company. Father Manuel Roman has multiple advanced degrees with a background of academic studies that ranges from medicine to psychology and counseling.  Now, these two exceptional individuals are part of a class of interesting residents who call the 48-acre campus of Heartlands Senior Living Village in Ellicott City, Md. home.

Father Manuel Roman

Manuel Roman was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands and came to Baltimore to be a doctor. Halfway through his premed studies at Johns Hopkins University, he started to question if it was the career path for him. He developed an interest in becoming a language professor, so he changed his major to French and minored in German. While in graduate school, he became further perplexed about his future when he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Reserve at Ft. Meade.

At a crossroads between a career in medicine, teaching or the military, he went to see his pastor, who actually later became the Archbishop of Baltimore.  When Manuel presented his problem, his pastor asked if he had thought about becoming a priest.

“When I said no, he said add that to the list,” Manuel said with a laugh.  He then instructed Manuel to interview a physician, military officer, professor and priest having each explain the pros and cons of their careers.  He also instructed him to pray over it to get the answer. Then in January 1950, Manuel came across a publication titled “Questions About Vocations.”

“I read it in one reading and when I finished I wanted to be a parish priest,” he said. This started him on a rewarding path of advanced degrees and assignments in a variety of parishes and schools. His favorite assignment was spending his last 20 years as a pastor at Ascension Catholic Church of Halethorpe. “I loved the challenges that we had there,” he said.

Manuel retired at age 80 and moved to an apartment in Catonsville. When he started having problems with arthritis, he began searching for assisted living options, but found his choices limited by the fact that he was insulin-dependent.  Fortunately someone recommended Heartlands Senior Living Village, which provides independent and assisted living as well as rehabilitation services. “When I called here they said, ‘We will take you insulin and all!'” said Manuel.

After living in the Heartlands for over three years he said, “I don’t think I could find a better place than this one, I am not saying this because somebody’s telling me to; I’m saying it from my heart.”  He cited the friendly and supportive staff as well as the vast amount of activities and recreational offerings as some of his favorite aspects of the community.

In addition, he thoroughly enjoys the food at Heartlands. He said, “If you don’t like what’s on the regular menu, they have an alternate menu. If you don’t like what’s on the alternate menu, they will do everything they can to please you.  This is one excellent feature here that many other places don’t have.”

Edna Murray

The youngest of eight children, Edna was actually the first in her family to graduate from high school. “I graduated at the height of the Depression; the rest of my siblings had to go to work,” she said. After deferring an offer to attend Duke University, she started working at the C & P Telephone Company the day after she graduated.

There, she said she met a young man on loan from the Maryland office, and within six months they were married. “We had a delightful marriage for 61 years,” she said.

In that time, she continued working for C&P and moved to Hampstead, Md., the small country town where her husband was born and raised.  They had one child, whom Edna quipped, they “spoiled rotten.” Their family grew over the years with two granddaughters and four great grandchildren.

Edna said she enjoyed every minute of her career at C&P, earning her college degree and becoming one of the first women to rise to the executive level in her company.  When she and her husband retired at age 55, they bought a condo in Florida to spend part of the year.  Her husband was an avid golfer and they belonged to clubs in both states.

In 1992, the couple was among the first residents to move to Heartlands, which was a brand new independent living retirement community.  With Edna’s husband recuperating from a bout with cancer, they figured it would be a smart move and after researching the community, they settled on a cottage with a den and screened-in porch.  After her husband fully recovered, they moved back to Hampstead.  They agreed, however, if one of them passed away the surviving spouse would return to Heartlands.

When this became a reality for Edna, she lived alone for eight years, but decided it was best to move back to Heartlands.  Amazed at how much the community had expanded, she moved into an independent living apartment. 

“It’s just a place that has touched me as home,” she said.  The homelike atmosphere has meant a great deal to Edna who has since moved to an assisted living apartment due to the progression of vision and health problems. 

“That is one of the best features about Heartlands,” says Beth Sanchez, director of Marketing.  “We have been part of the Ellicott City culture for over 24 years, and we are ‘home’ to over 250 residents.  Our residents and their families enjoy-and rely on-the warmth and care that surround them here. We are proud and honored to serve the seniors in our community.”

And Edna has learned how that warmth and care extends to all facets of the community.  Since she now has to pay close attention to her diet due to a pancreas problem, she, like Manuel, enjoys the fact that she has three meals a day and the companionship of her friends at meals.

As a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Maryland Federation of Women’s Clubs for six decades, Edna also enjoys the vibrant atmosphere she has found at the Heartlands.  With a passion for hobbies, she has access to a range of amenities including the community center that hosts a variety of social functions along with a full-service library and indoor heated pool and spa.  She even maintains her outside relationships, particularly assisting her 97-year-old friend who lives in a nearby nursing home. 

For others considering a move, Edna offered some sage advice. “I think living at Heartlands is the way to go.  When you get here, it’s about how you are going to live your life.  There has never been a day I had any sorrow for coming here.”

And coming from either of these individuals, with not only their impressive educational backgrounds, but the choices they made to find a home that has met their individualized needs, these are certainly words of wisdom.

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