Community Retirement:Life’s an Adventure

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residents of a retirement community

Morgan and Rosalie Johnson have explored the world and lived a life helping each other, they now call The Hermitage of Northern Virginia, retirement community home.

As a graduate of the seminary with a degree in fine art, Morgan Johnson found his calling in life when he realized the effect of using pictures to teach people to read in Africa.  After a three-year term utilizing his talents and education as a missionary, however, Morgan returned home, wishing to get married before he traveled back to Africa.  


Fate kicked in when his mother, a professor, invited her student, Rosalie to dinner.  “She had quoted her son quite frequently in class, so I was very curious to meet him,” said Rosalie.  The two eventually married and after she finished medical school at Emory University, they began an adventurous life in Africa together.


There, Rosalie had ample opportunity to assist others as a physician as Morgan continued teaching and shared his passion for art through weekly illustrations in the local newspaper. All but one of their five children were born in Africa.Unlike most missionary families, the couple’s children attended the local village schools even in a time of intense segregation.”Our children have told us they are proud they attended the local schools,” said Morgan.”They have all done very well.”


When their kids were grown and in college the couple returned to Atlanta.  “Some people think that we sacrificed on our mission work, but for us it was so much fun,” said Rosalie.


In 1991 Morgan officially retired and was researching a book while Rosalie spent the following decade working at an AIDS Clinic. “It was fascinating and rewarding work, since I had seen my first AIDS patients in Africa when we had no treatment or medication,” she said.


As their children began starting their own families, they were primarily congregating around the Washington, D.C. area, so after Rosalie’s retirement, the Johnsons moved to an apartment in Silver Spring, Md. to be closer to everyone.


Soon they started thinking about their future and how they could continue their engaging lifestyle even if their health changed.As a result they started looking at retirement communities, and were drawn to the Methodist roots they found at the Hermitage in Northern Virginia, a not-for-profit community located in Alexandria.”We got a sense of belonging very quickly after moving here,” said Morgan.


Although they have a unique history, the Johnsons have truly enjoyed meeting their fellow residents at the Hermitage and hearing about their interesting experiences and varied passions.”We learn so much from each other here,” said Morgan.

Most importantly, they feel secure in knowing that their potential healthcare needs will be met with the assisted living and nursing care that is available at the Hermitage. “It really gives you peace of mind,” said Rosalie. “So far we haven’t needed it but it’s great to know that it’s here.”

Morgan continued saying, “Our family can rest easy knowing that we are well taken care of here, too.”

With this security and freedom from home-maintenance, the Johnsons enjoy the abundance of activity the Hermitage has to offer.”We have things going on here all the time,” said Rosalie, who, like Morgan, is involved in several committees and the Resident Council.

Between their years spent in Africa and the numerous opportunities and amenities they have found at the Hermitage, it may be safe to say that for the Johnsons, life is, and will continue to be, a constant adventure.

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