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SearStone Resident Joseph Polcaro Wins Medal at NASTRA

May 10, 2017

It is increasingly common for men and women to stay active as they get older but few of them win medals and awards this way. But Cary resident Joseph Polcaro recently got a Silver Medal for ski racing in the mountains of Colorado.

Polcaro took second place in ski racing at the NASTAR (NAtional STAndard Race) National Championships over the weekend of March 24, 2017. At 81 years old, he competed in the 80-84 age range in the bronze pin category. It took place in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

“I was familiar with the slaloms in Colorado so I felt good and for two days, I went through the gates and did well,” Polcaro said. “Although on my last run, it didn’t count because I missed a flag and went left when I was supposed to go right.”

To get invited to the NASTAR championship, which is the largest recreational ski race program, skiers can race on some of the country’s largest mountains and make a qualifying time, which Polcaro himself tried out.

“I was invited to NASTAR four times but I did not get any medals until this last time,” Polcaro said. “This January, I decided to try it again and see what happens. I got the bronze pin but missed the silver pin by one second.”

In Cary, Polcaro said he does not have many places to practice, though he said he is going to try and ski at Sugar Mountain before attempting to qualify for the NASTAR National Championships again.

“In March, the guy I was competing against lives in Boston and goes up every week to ski. Where can I practice here?” Polcaro said with a laugh.

You Just Fly

While Polcaro, an Italian immigrant who came to the U.S. in 1950 before joining the military, has done exceptionally well in ski racing, he did not take up the sport until he was nearly 50.

“When my older son was around 12, around Christmas time, he asked to go skiing. So we went up to the mountains but there was no snow there until we hit Boone and skied there,” Polcaro said. “Although little did I know at the time that they made their own snow.”

From there, Polcaro continued to ski and graduated to larger mountains, including going several times to Breckenridge in Colorado. It is a long way from Polcaro’s favorite sport.

“I am a certified referee for soccer games. Soccer is my absolute favorite and it’s what I grew up with,” he said.

Polcaro also volunteers and coaches in the Special Olympics.

But even with skiing coming to Polcaro later in life, he still said he loves it and finds it exhilarating.

“You feel like a bird,” he said. “You just fly.”

As for whether Polcaro will try to qualify and compete in next year’s NASTAR National Championship, he said he met two other skiers there who were 94 and 98 years old.

“When I got to the airport, I saw them and they said ‘see you next year,'” he said. “So I thought, gosh, I have to go back now.”

This article originally appeared on CaryCitizen.com. http://carycitizen.com/2017/04/11/cary-senior-gets-silver-medal-in-ski-competition/ 

Jewel Tolan Leads Fight at SearStone to Reinstate Medical Expenses Deduction

September 28, 2015

In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to eliminate the medical expenses deduction on state income taxes to take effect in the 2014 tax year. It was clear to members of the North Carolina Continuing Care Residents Association and to SearStone resident Jewel Tolan that this action would increase state income taxes for residents of continuing care retirement communities, as well as others with excessive medical expenses. 

During the past year, the NCCCRA led a campaign to secure reinstatement of the medical expenses deduction for tax year 2015 and beyond. Here’s a brief recap of how they did it. 

Summer 2014

CCRC residents wrote letters to members of the Budget Conference Committee requesting support of a 2014 bill sponsored by Rep. Rick Catlin that provided for a medical expenses deduction for seniors with a $20,000 cap.

Fall 2014

CCRC residents attending the NCCCRA Annual Meeting overwhelmingly supported a legislative initiative for the reinstatement of the medical expenses deduction. NCCCRA President Walt Boyer sent letters to new and returning legislators in the General Assembly making them aware of the issue.

The NCCCRA developed a legislative plan of action, and created a Legislative Committee chaired by CCRC Resident Sindy Barker. Sindy contacted other state organizations supporting the elderly to promote a coalition for advocacy efforts with the state legislature. In the meantime, Rep. Catlin introduced a broadened bill without a cap when the 2015 General Assembly convened. 

At SearStone, Jewel informed residents of the anticipated negative impact of the General Assembly’s vote, and on actions taken by NCCCRA to rectify the situation.

February 2015

Sindy emailed CCRC representatives, asking that they encourage residents to contact local representatives for their support of Rep. Catlin’s House Bill 46, Senior Tax Deduction for Medical Expenses. As the SearStone representative to the NCCCRA, Jewel distributed a letter to residents requesting their participation.

March-June 2015

Under the direction of the NCCCRA Legislative Committee, residents in CCRCs across the state wrote, emailed, and phoned their elected officials. They also wrote letters to the editors of local newspapers and invited legislators to come to their community association meetings.

Legislative Committee members attended House sessions and spoke to the House Committee on Aging. Articles and political cartoons about this issue began appearing in news media across the state. The North Carolina Retired Governmental Employee Association and members of AARP added their support of HB46.

Gov. Pat McCrory proposed reinstatement of the medical expenses deduction without a cap in his budget.

Jewel and several SearStone residents wrote to Wake County House representatives, asking them to sign on as co-sponsors of HB46. In April, almost 100 SearStone residents turned out to sign 16 letters going to the leadership of the House Committee on Finance.

The bill made its way through several committees and was included in the budget. The budget was passed by the House. The Senate’s version of the budget included the medical expenses deduction but with a $20,000 cap, not giving tax relief needed to those citizens who would be hardest hit with medical expenses.

July-September 2015

Walt and Sindy jointly sent letters to all members of the General Assembly asking that the cap be removed. NCCCRA requested that CCRC residents send another round of letters to the governor, House speaker and Senate president pro tem, and Jewel forwarded the request to SearStone residents. She also personally sent emails to Gov. McCrory thanking him for his support, and to House and Senate leaders asking them for a deduction without a cap.

On September 13, General Assembly leaders announced they had finalized the budget agreement. The medical expenses deduction was reinstated without a cap. On September 18, Gov. McCrory signed the 2015 budget into law.

“I learned two things from this first experience lobbying our legislature,” said Jewel. “One: In North Carolina, we do have a government ‘of the people and by the people.’ Two: We may be living in a continuing care retirement community, but WE DID IT!”

Volunteer Work Plays an Important Part in Roger and Nancy Schuh's Life

August 20, 2015

Volunteer work is something SearStone residents graciously offer the community as well as the Town of Cary. “We both find volunteer work very rewarding and feel it helps keep us active and healthy,” says Nancy Schuh, SearStone resident.

Roger and Nancy Schuh grew up near Green Bay, Wisconsin and were married in 1960. Roger’s work as a Mechanical Engineer has taken them from Madison to Chicago, Naperville and Winston-Salem. While working full-time, both Nancy and Roger have been providing volunteer work for more than 25 years.

Nancy had volunteered at the Wake Forest Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem for 29 years. As for Roger, he had after 29 years of working for AT&T, decided to retire and began his new career as a woodworker and volunteer. Roger’s talents have brought him to do work for Habitat for Humanity and designing and building a playground and greenhouse for specially challenged children at Hanes-Lowrance Middle School in Winston-Salem.

“It’s amazing what people can do when they put their minds to it,” said Roger.

Roger’s work has not gone unnoticed. In 1996, he received a Jefferson Award from the American Institute of Public Service in Washington, D.C. for the playground project. “It was an incredible experience,” as he was met by politicians, TV personalities and other dignitaries. After having great success in Winston Salem – both professionally and through volunteer work, the Schuhs decided it was time for a change.

“Our grandchildren are a big part of our life and we moved to Searstone to be a part of theirs,” said Nancy.

After 55 years of marriage, Roger and Nancy decided to make the move to SearStone in order to be closer with their grandchildren. The Schuhs have passed along their charitable hearts to their grandchildren who are very active in sports and music. Their time together is spent supporting and educating the grandchildren. Both Roger and Nancy have worked hard to impart their knowledge of woodworking, financial skills, cooking, crafting and family history to the kids.

There is no doubt the amazing influence the Schuhs have had in their grandchildren’s lives as well as all the others they have touched among their many years of service. We are proud to have them as a part of our community and hope that their legacy continues to grow.

Photo courtesy of Cary Magazine.

Kirk and Lois Semke Loved Their Home at SearStone Immediately

August 20, 2015

A custom-designed estate home is exactly what Kirk and Lois Semke dreamed of for their retirement home, and it all worked out in the end.

“We loved our home at SearStone immediately,” says Lois.

The Semkes moved to SearStone in February of 2014 and it convenient and suited their retirement lifestyle. 

“Cary is the best choice for us because it’s in the center of the state, near a major airport and close to all of our children,” said Kirk.  They are now living less than 2 miles away from their previous neighborhood and 3 hours from the kids, and they are especially enthusiastic about expanding their friendship with their new neighbors. 

Kirk specialized in Manufacturing Technology within the Forestry Projects Industry.  For 28 years, he worked at a Pulp and Paper Mill in Riegelwood, NC.  He then spent 5 years at the corporate offices of The Federal Paperboard Company.  The paper mill is responsible for selling paper products in rolls and bales, which are then bought and converted into everyday products like paper cups, plates, greeting cards, paperback book covers, calendars and more.

Lois worked in Human Resources until their children were born at which point she dedicated those precious 19 years to being a stay-at-home mom.  In her free time she volunteered at schools, scouting troops and at church, and found the work very rewarding.  At last, the nest finally emptied and Lois found work in county government.

Now after 54 years of marriage, the couple find joy in the performing arts, the Symphony, travel and sports.  They are avid N.C. State Wolfpack fans, attending all home football and men’s basketball games.  Kirk attends the Carolina Panther football games with their oldest son and belongs to the Raleigh Sports Club.  Lois delivers food to seniors for Meals on Wheels, volunteers with The Center for Volunteer Caregiving, and is active in the P.E.O. Sisterhood.

“Keeping up with travel and the activities of our nine grandchildren also keeps us busy,” said Lois.

One of their granddaughters graduated from high school last June, and she was named a Park Scholar and will attend N.C. State University this fall.  To stay active, the Semkes enjoy their family and continue to travel the world.  Kirk and Lois are quite adventurous and have been known to go on safaris in South Africa and Botswana and even helicopter-hiking in the Canadian Rockies.

We are glad they continue their adventures in retirement and enjoy their home at SearStone.

Meet Marshall and Janet Carter

July 20, 2015

One of the biggest challenges that Marshall and Janet Carter had when moving to SearStone was adjusting to the new lifestyle.

"It is just so darn fun, and there are so many things to do!" laughs Marshall.

He can usually be found in the Fitness Center doing flexibility and balance exercises in the afternoon. His wife, Janet, is dedicated to her yoga practice and other classes.

The Carters moved to SearStone almost 2 years ago into Calais Terrace. Now they have more time to enjoy outside activities, and as Marshall says, "Happily we have to spend about zero time worrying about maintaining a home." The Carters have stayed busy with other things - Janet directs a children's hand bell choir, and Marshall enjoys doing personal investing at home.

Prior to SearStone, Janet's career path took many turns. She began as a Registered Nurse, and then was a business owner of a floral/retail shop. After they sold the store she became the provider of business accounting services. Marshall has worked in the mortgage finance industry for most of his career, a job that kept him on the road in the mid-Atlantic states.

The Carters have been married for 21 years, and met on a blind date. "Although I refused to go out on a blind date," says Janet, "So I made my best friend come with me on the date. The three of us had dinner, and the rest is history!"

Many family members have relocated to North Carolina, and they've enjoyed spending more time with siblings, children and their four grandchildren. Their newest grandchild, Michael, was born this year and he has already spent many nights at SearStone. The Carters other grandchildren love the SearStone campus as well. The older kids enjoy the pool, the billiards and the Bar & Grille, and they just can't wait for the baby to grow and enjoy new things here.

Now that the Carters are settled in the community they are enjoying a more reasonable pace of living as opposed to the fast pace of their previous careers. They have so much more time to enjoy friends and hobbies. And the SearStone community is enjoying having them here!

Wake County Senior Games

June 3, 2015

If you ever thought retirement communities are boring places filled with inactive seniors, we’d like to introduce you to Jan Mott, Barbara Treble, Al Port, Dennis Garoutte and Harry Dougherty. Not only did these five SearStone residents compete in the recent Wake County Senior Games, they collectively won 11 medals.

The Wake County Senior Games is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization incorporated in 1989-1990 to promote fitness, friendship and well-being for all residents 55 years of age and older who have lived in the county for at least three consecutive months. Sanctioned by the North Carolina Senior Games, it is one of the largest of the 53 local games in the state. The athletic, performing and arts events provide a forum to meet new people, enjoy healthy competition, be creative, and most importantly, to have fun.

The Games involve more than 30 individual and team sporting events such as tennis, golf, bowling, basketball, swimming, cornhole, pickleball, cycling, and track and field, as well as competition in the visual, literary, heritage, craft and performing arts. Events take place across Wake County during March and April. Typically, the top three winners (medalists) in each event by age and gender are eligible to compete in the statewide Senior Games each fall. 

Wake County Senior Games’ partner organizations include North Carolina Senior Games, National Senior Games, City of Raleigh Parks Recreation and Cultural Resources, the Town of Garner, the Town of Morrisville, and Town of Cary Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources.

The SearStone staff recognizes and celebrates our athletes and their winning efforts.

 Jan Mott

  • Bowling — Bronze Medal
  • Shuffleboard — Silver Medal
  • Cornhole — Gold Medal

Barbara Treble

  • Table Tennis — Silver Medal

Al Port

  • Billiards — Gold Medal
  • Cornhole — Gold Medal
  • Shuffleboard — Gold Medal

Dennis Garoutte

  • Shuffleboard — Gold Medal
  • Cornhole — Bronze Medal

Harry Dougherty

  • Men’s Singles Tennis — Silver Medal
  • Men’s Doubles Tennis — Gold Medal

“I found out that I like the experience of competition, which is exhilarating and exciting,” said Al. “I look forward to the North Carolina Senior Games.”

“Winning medals was nice, but it was meeting other friendly seniors that made it special,” added Jan. “In my three events there were about 50 contestants in all. I’d like to encourage more entrants next year to represent SearStone!”

To prepare for the Games, these athletes practiced year-round and followed schedules geared toward their specific events.  There was plenty of friendly competition and camaraderie among peers.

Residents who may be interested in competing in the 2016 Wake County Senior Games are encouraged to contact Wellness Director Mark Johnson.

A Welcoming Environment for Artists

May 19, 2015

A Welcoming Environment for Artists

As a distinctly different retirement community, SearStone embodies the philosophy that active and engaged seniors are healthier and happier. In addition to providing a wide variety of health-and entertainment-related activities for residents, the staff also works to ensure that the environment is aesthetically pleasing.

SearStone has an arrangement with the Fine Arts League of Cary to host displays of visual art in the Winston Clubhouse. The artwork is changed out every quarter, allowing residents to view new pieces while providing additional exposure for the member artists, many of whom sell their art.

SearStone residents Dave Wolf and Marilyn Knittel are members of FALC who have set aside designated areas in their homes to create original pieces of art.

Dave has been weaving for about 20 years and has two looms in his home. "I'm not an artist, I'm a technician," he claims. "For example Marilyn did a painting that I liked so I did a tapestry of it."

He enjoys the challenge of creating intricate designs like landscapes, and has exhibited his pieces at SearStone. Although his tapestries are not for sale, Dave does sell scarves and blankets, and donates the proceeds to Transitions LifeCare, a local hospice program for which he has been a long-time board member.

Dave believes that engaging in creative endeavors of any sort, even just as a hobby, is fun and worthwhile. "Alex Knittel and several others create wooden toys, and we had a party where residents assembled them to be donated to Toys for Tots," he adds. "That was a lot of fun."

Marilyn took up painting in 2009 and enjoys incorporating a diversity of styles including landscape, still-life and abstract. She draws inspiration from photos, image searches on Google, and even calendars and postcards. She is grateful that FALC has facilitated some exhibitions and sales for her (although she, too, donates most of her proceeds to charity).

"I also assist in teaching Zentangle classes at SearStone," she states. "It's a relaxing art form that involves geometric patterns. I learned it at a retreat several years ago and now we've incorporated it into a variety of things like Christmas cards and flower pots."

Like Dave, Marilyn believes creating art is a great way to keep active. Resident Life Services Coordinator Shannon Hoffman organizes art classes for residents that have included such mediums as watercolor and glass mosaics.

"One of the things I love about art is that it provides an outlet for sharing," says Marilyn. "You can share your creativity, and also share through donating your artwork or proceeds for the benefit of others."

To learn more about art showings and events at SearStone, visit http://www.searstone.com/events-cary-north-carolina

Grand Parenting ~ Relocating for the Kids

May 12, 2015

SearStone Residents Roger and Nancy Schuh and Gene and Betty Doyle were featured in the May 2015 issue of Cary Magazine.


Relocation creates more quality time

Roger and Nancy Schuh arrived in Cary this past January with boxes in tow.  The reasons? Kimberly, Allison and Connor of Apex, aka the grandkids.

“The first weekend we were here, we went to their basketball, soccer and  hockey games, all before unpacking our boxes,” said Nancy. “The boxes could  wait.”

That grandparents will do the darnedest things for the kids is a well-known  fact. For the Schuhs, married 55 years, the decision came down to driving 100  miles back home to Winston-Salem after attending their grandchildren’s athletic  and music events, or staying over, or moving.

“We finally thought, ‘We can stay here and they’ll grow up and we’ll miss it,  or we can move,’” Roger said. “So we decided to spend these years in Cary with  them.”

What’s been gained by Grandma and Grandpa’s move to the SearStone community?  Ask the kids.

Read more:  http://www.carymagazine.com/features/grand-parenting#ixzz3Zx40PCp0

Plenty to Do at SearStone

March 6, 2015

There's a place in Cary that offers fitness classes, golf outings, pick-up games of bocce, dance classes and more.

There's a place in Cary that offers painting classes, four different language clubs, art showings, educational lectures, music performances, chili cook-offs and more.

There's a place in Cary that offers local excursions to baseball games, the symphony, theatrical plays, concerts, the opera and more.

There's a place in Cary where the residents have said things such as: "It's like being on a cruise ship every day," "I just love it here," and "There's so much going on here, I could be busy all the time if I wanted to."

Some may be surprised to discover that all of these activities - and more - are offered at SearStone. However, the residents, staff, and their families and friends have long known that one of the founding principles of this unique senior community is the belief (backed by research) that active seniors are more likely to be happy and healthy seniors.

Planning and coordinating all these activities are two exemplary employees: Wellness Director Mark Johnson and Resident Life Services Coordinator Shannon Hoffman.

We brainstormed a lot of activities last year and always like to think outside the box," said Mark. "We get a lot of requests from residents and will do our best to research available options."

"Other than classes and outings, we also plan a lot of social functions on site," added Shannon. "We'll have a St. Patrick's Day party with a band, and block parties once a quarter either outside by the lake or in our clubhouse ballroom."

Another benefit of many of these activities is that they occur even when the weather is poor (unless it is extreme weather than can affect individual safety). In winter weather, SearStone staff members do their best to keep the roads and sidewalks clear so residents can safely make their way over to the Winston Clubhouse for an activity, or to catch the shuttle bus to an event.

Taking the shuttle provided by SearStone means that residents don't have to worry about driving to an event and looking for parking. Despite less than ideal road conditions, about 30 residents were able to enjoy a symphony performance in late February because the SearStone shuttle driver got them there and back safely.

Although many of these are just in the planning stages, don't be surprised to see some of these new activities at SearStone in 2015:

  • Zip-lining
  • Overnight golf trip to Hilton Head, South Carolina
  • Riverboat cruise in Wilmington
  • Boating on Jordan Lake
  • Indoor skydiving
  • Trip to see a Major League Baseball game (in addition to the popular local outings to see the Durham Bulls and Carolina Mudcats)
  • Train trip to Charlotte for a Carolina Panthers football game
  • Laughter Yoga (a practice involving prolonged voluntary laughter)
  • Jazz Club
  • Technology Fair
  • Resident bake-off, with the winning recipe featured in the dining room
  • Adding more garden beds for residents
  • Community herb garden

Mark and Shannon are always available to discuss ideas for additional activities. Feel free to contact them at mjohnson@searstone.com and shoffman@searstone.com.

A Well-Designed Life

February 10, 2015

With a slice of cake and a tall glass of beer in front of her, Helen Staley celebrated her 93rd birthday (along with Ana Erskine) at SearStone last December, thanks to the second-floor residents at the Winston Clubhouse. Helen recalls that the celebration seemed to transform the relationship of the residents and staff, a role reversal of sorts.

Perhaps "transforming" serves as a good metaphor for her life, as she has broken down more than one barrier in her 93 years. At the tender age of 14, Helen was moved to a mechanical drawing class after the teacher of her cooking class broke up her lively group of friends for being disruptive. She took architectural drawing classes in senior high school, which was not a big stretch for her since her mother was a landscape architect. Although she was accepted to Cornell, Helen's father didn't think she'd be a good fit there (or perhaps, that they were not ready for her!). She enrolled at the all-female Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., only to find that the professor she wanted to study under had accepted another position elsewhere.

College and Career

Helen subsequently transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where she encountered some overt hostility while applying. The dean told her she could earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree but not a degree in architecture, to which she replied, "It's the knowledge, not the sheepskin." She did earn a Bachelor of Architecture degree.

One of her final assignments at Penn was designing a standalone television studio, a rarity in the nascent days of the medium when most studios were converted within existing spaces. Her design received a first-place medal, after which General Electric invited the winners to Schenectady, N.Y., to present their solutions to a TV audience.

Helen says she was fortunate to get a job with an architectural practice in New York City during World War II when few firms were open. She married her high school sweetheart, William Warner Staley, fresh from his return from England and eventual discharge from the Air Force. With a six-week-old daughter in tow, the couple moved to Charlottesville, Va., where he completed his degree from the University of Virginia.

The family subsequently moved to Maryland, and Helen was asked, pretty much as a favor, to design an educational building for a church in their community. She worked for several firms in the Baltimore and Annapolis areas to complete her mandatory three years of architectural experience, and upon meeting the four-day test requirement for her architectural license, started her own firm called "helen ross staley" out of her home.

"The only advertising allowed in 1955 was the architectural firm name, address and telephone number in the Yellow Pages, a sign in front of a commission in progress, and word of mouth," she recalls. "My practice pretty much consisted of residences, alterations and additions to existing buildings, as well as churches. That same church I did work for earlier hired me to design their new church building. This time it was for pay!"

Her largest commission was a movie theater with one cinema auditorium superimposed on top of another. Her design was served by a single projection room projecting normally into the upper auditorium and what might be called a "reverse periscope" that projected into the lower one using a series of mirrors within the projection well.

Professional Recognition

Recently, Helen was contacted by the Women in Architecture Committee of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Baltimore chapter about contributing items to an exhibit on Early Women in Architecture. She has been assembling and photographing original drawings, and emailing them to exhibit organizers.

The exhibit is scheduled to open for Women's History Month in March at Morgan State University, and will travel throughout the year to other locations including the University of Maryland, the Maryland Women's Heritage Center, the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, the Baltimore Design School, and the Jefferson Patterson Park Museum.

Coming to North Carolina

Helen and her husband originally researched retirement communities in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and had actually signed up for one many years ago. She was not actively looking to make another move when she visited her son in Cary for Thanksgiving two years ago. 

"My daughter-in-law's parents were SearStone depositors, so I asked to take a look," she says. "I came, I saw, I signed, and now happily live here much to the surprise of our three older children in Maryland."

Helen believes the social lessons she learned at Stephens College are paramount and encouraged at SearStone: "To be friendly with and to everyone." She says, "It's difficult to start the social interaction in a new retirement community. I think SearStone has done especially well with all that a continuing care community presents."

She attributes the success of the community to the high-quality social activities and personnel. "The staff is truly welcoming," she states. "They learn everyone's name and greet us personally. SearStone is very wise in their selection of staff."

A wise observation indeed from someone with much wisdom to share.

Darryl Mills Embodies Active Lifestyle

January 27, 2015

It’s hard to catch Darryl Mills sitting still for long.

As the newly installed president of the SearStone Residents Association, he hopes to build upon the successes of his predecessor, Peter Thomas.

Expanding on that leadership role, he will also continue his involvement in the North Carolina Continuing Care Retirement Community Association, an organization that shares ideas and lobbies for the betterment of the industry.

Darryl also serves as president of Cary SeniorNet, an organization of about 30 volunteers that is offering 55 free computer courses this semester at the Cary Senior Center.

As an active SearStone resident, Darryl enjoys playing bridge, listening to music, attending symphony concerts and the opera, and working out in the gym. “There’s so much going on here, I could be busy all the time if I wanted to,” he says.

Community Leader

The mission of the Residents Association is “to develop functions and programs for the benefit of the residents and management of the SearStone retirement community.” Darryl says among the organization’s first-year successes are the Food Committee, Environmental Committee and Library Committee. In 2015, he hopes to strengthen the committees and their roles.

The current Residents Association is comprised of nine members, of which seven are newly appointed. Darryl says his fellow board members are very talented and experienced, and he looks forward to working with them.

“Every new organization has a few hiccups in its first year, but I think management has done a good job overall,” he claims. “When you consider that for a while we had one or two new people moving in daily, the kitchen and other staff managed to cope in a situation that was changing rapidly. There was a concerted effort to improve food service and now it is very good.”

World Traveler

Darryl was born and educated in South Africa, but has also lived in England, Austria and five of the United States (California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Carolina). Originally trained as a mechanical engineer, he transitioned into working with computers and then into finance, where he served as vice president of finance and president of several companies.

He met and married his wife, Beverley, in Cape Town, South Africa, beginning a wonderful union that took them around the globe. After joining American company Envirotech in Johannesburg in 1973, he and Beverley moved to the United States in 1977 and have lived here ever since, with the exception a five-year stint in Austria.

Beverley passed away in 2005, and Darryl retired in Cary about six years ago. For the past two years his companion has been JoAnn, a retired military officer and teacher who lives in North Raleigh.

SearStone Resident

Darryl moved to SearStone on Nov. 20, 2013, and has enjoyed the “maiden voyage” of the community. “My apartment is wonderful,” he says, proudly showing off the layout, furnishings and balcony.

In addition to enjoying the many activities put on by Wellness Director Mark Johnson and Director of Resident Life Shannon Hoffman, he enjoys interacting with fellow residents.

“One thing that makes life enjoyable here is the people,” he states. “They are from all over, and are very intelligent and active.” With a smile, he adds, “We’re not just a bunch of old fogeys. Make sure you write that down.”

Maintaining Old Friendships While Cultivating New Ones

December 1, 2014

"Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold."

That sentiment from an old Girl Scout song encapsulates how many SearStone residents feel after they've moved into the community. There's the excitement of meeting new neighbors while still maintaining cherished relationships with friends from old neighborhoods, clubs, places of worship and other organizations.

Jan Mott and her late husband lived in three different houses during their 40 years in Cary, the last of which was at the MacGregor Downs golf community. "We loved our neighbors and it was hard to leave, but I still get together with many of them or run into them when I'm out shopping at some of the same old haunts,” says Jan. "I'm always running into someone I know."

In one sense, she says the move didn't matter that much in terms of maintaining relationships. Jan still sings in her church choir and gets together with old friends for golfing, bowling and other activities.

Not one to sit still, Jan says she's as busy as ever directing the new SearStone choir, having friends over for dinner, playing shuffleboard, and much more. "I'm very impressed by the caliber of people here," she expresses. "Everybody seems to know each other and wants to know who you are and where you're from.”

Similarly, Sandy and Sheila Routh moved to SearStone from one-and-a-half miles away and still maintain friendships with people they know from their synagogue, Prestonwood Country Club, and the many organizations to which they belong.

Both have served as Tourism Ambassadors with the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Sheila is part of a local sewing group that has made and donated over 5,000 stuffed animals to children at WakeMed Cary Hospital.

"Our old friends still visit at SearStone," says Sheila. "We dogsit for them and are adopted grandparents. But it's also very easy to make new friends here since many of us are in the same boat - we're all among the first residents to live here."

In their new home, the couple enjoys exercising and going to lectures, films, cocktail parties and the various outings organized by SearStone (like to a Durham Bulls baseball game).

"There's a very comfortable feeling of security here," she adds. "It doesn't feel like an 'old age home' like we had thought many retirement communities are.

For Jan, the Rouths and many others, moving to SearStone has enhanced, not diminished, their network of friends. They've made new friendships and enjoyed new experiences, all while staying in touch with dear old friends.

Al Port Goes “Over the Edge” for Charity

November 3, 2014

On Oct. 4, SearStone resident Al Port and his son Kirk enjoyed a view that few people in the Triangle ever experience. Al and Kirk were repelling down the 30-story Wells Fargo building in downtown Raleigh as part of the Over the Edge fundraiser for Special Olympics.

Al heard about the fundraiser on WRAL news when anchor (and recent SearStone concert performer) Bill Leslie mentioned he would be participating this year. Other WRAL news personalities have participated in previous year.

As an active and fit senior who enjoys camping and hiking, Port thought this would be a fun experience to mark off his bucket list prior to his upcoming 80th birthday. Although he’s not an avid thrill seeker, he has done things like race around the Charlotte Motor Speedway at 152 miles per hour (after proper training and suiting up, of course).

It was a clear day in Raleigh and Al says there was a slight breeze blowing as he and his son descended side by side down the skyscraper. "I don't have a fear of heights and this experience was definitely a rush," he says. "The hardest part mentally and physically was going over the ledge. The rest was easy."

The event was supervised by climbing experts, and all safety precautions were precisely followed.

In addition to being an exhilarating experience, Al and his son are also proud that they raised over $4,000 from family and friends to benefit Special Olympics.

"I wouldn't recommend it for anyone afraid of heights," he added, "but it was a good experience for me and I plan to do it again next year." Only next time, he wants to recruit a team of SearStone staff and residents to accompany him.

Library Committee Seeks to Enrich Resident Life through Literature

October 27, 2014

When SearStone formed its residents association in early 2014, it also created several committees under its bylaws and asked residents to volunteer with the groups that matched their interests. That was the genesis of the Library Committee, which now boasts 13 active members.

Co-chaired by Jewel Tolan and Ruth Broderick, the Library Committee is working on a mission statement and long-range plan. However, that has not prevented the dedicated committee members from collecting, cataloging and shelving more than 500 books for residents to enjoy. The long-term goal is for more than 1,000 books.

"We have a very active committee made up of avid readers," said Tolan. "We also have the benefit of having a retired librarian, Pat Grainger, who has professional experience."

The committee surveyed residents to ascertain favorite literary genres and set about collecting donated books. For the time being the group operates without a budget, but eventually hopes to raise money through sales of donated titles the library cannot use and then purchase new books with the proceeds. In fact, Tolan asks future residents to consider donating their books to SearStone before they downsize and move in. Books can be dropped off at the Concierge Desk where staff will issue a receipt for the donation.

Given the size of the SearStone community, the committee decided early on to organize the library more like a bookstore rather than a traditional public library. The books are organized into about 17 categories and will display spine labels representing specific genres. Eventually, they hope to add DVDs, CDs and audio books.

The Library Committee currently meets every other week, and members are very busy in between meetings poring through books to catalog and shelve. Future plans also include providing cart service to Brittany Place, SearStone's on-site health care facility.

The committee's secretary, Caroline Filbert, has also contacted Wake County Public Libraries to learn about specific programs and services available to seniors.

Ms. Tolan reports that even though the library is in its early stages, some residents are already borrowing books. "We have a very enthusiastic committee that is working hard to offer the best literary materials we can get to meet the interests and needs of the residents," she added. "We want the library to be a great asset for SearStone residents."

The Singing Colonel and His Wife

April 2, 2014

Colonel Vern Pike and his wife Renny are seasoned global travelers who have decided that of all the places in the world to retire, SearStone is the best fit for them. After visiting many retirement communities, the Pikes made their deposit in 2007 and waited out the recession. They moved to SearStone from Pinehurst.

"We have great respect for Bill Sears,” said Vern. “The man’s integrity is what convinced us." Having retired from the U. S. Army after a distinguished 30-year career, Colonel Pike definitely knows a thing or two about integrity.

Born in Philadelphia, Vern was the son of a television pioneer who worked for the NBC network as a technical director. His father's work took the family to various places including New Jersey, Indiana and New Orleans.

Originally from Bronxville, N.Y., Renny is the daughter of a career naval officer who was killed on the cruiser Denver in the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944 during WW II. She later attended Woman's College, now UNC-Greensboro.

The two met while Vern was attending Wake Forest University and got married her senior year in college. Their 55-year marriage has produced many wonderful memories as well as three sons (graduates of Duke, Wake Forest and The Citadel) living in Winston-Salem, Atlanta and Charleston, S.C. Proximity to their sons’ families is another reason they love living in North Carolina.

Their two eldest sons, twins, were born in Berlin, Germany, and the Pikes regularly return there for lengthy visits. Vern was the first officer-in-charge of Checkpoint Charlie the night the Berlin Wall went up in August 1961, and has written an e-book titled Checkpoint Charlie: Hotspot of the Cold War.

Vern's military career includes serving as a White House social aide during the Kennedy and Johnson years; as a company commander, and later, division staff officer in Vietnam; as a professor at West Point; as battalion and brigade commander in Germany; in special forces operations in Grenada in 1983; and on both the Army and Joint Staffs in the Pentagon. He has also taught at The American University, Northern Virginia Community College and Sandhills Community College. Among his students at West Point was a young cadet named Mike Krzyzewski, who would later gain fame at Duke University as the winningest coach in men's college basketball.

After retiring from the military and starting his own business, Vern became active in such organizations as the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), Moore County Republican Men's Club, Masons; Shriners, and many veterans organizations.

"My first love - my passion - is singing," said Vern. He is a member of the Research Triangle Park General Assembly Chorus that performs regularly throughout the Triangle area.

Don't be surprised if one day you hear a golden voice wafting through the air at SearStone. It's probably our resident Singing Colonel.

Like Being on a Cruise Ship

December 2, 2013

Since moving to SearStone on Nov. 1, Bob and Rita McTigue have participated in painting classes, exercise classes in the heated pool, and trips to the symphony, museums, governor's mansion and more.

In fact, Rita likens living at SearStone to "being on a cruise ship."

"We have ample room, and there's something to do every day if you wanted to," chimed in Bob.

The McTigues relocated from Wilmington, N.C., where they've been since 1995. Originally drawn to the Port City for the weather, they've ridden out numerous hurricanes there. What drew them to SearStone was the great location near RDU Airport, the amenities, the lifestyle, and, ultimately, their confidence in Bill Sears and his vision.

They are quick to point out that moving to a continuing care retirement community was their decision. The McTigues have children living in Washington State, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Ontario, Canada - hence their desire to be near a major airport.

"One of the reasons we're living here is for the kids," said Bob. "They don't have to worry about us. We have access to health care, and we don't have to deal with yard work, pool cleaning and other chores associated with homeownership."

"We're happy here," added Rita. "I think it's the best answer for us."

Bob enjoyed a long career in sales and marketing with pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Meyers Squibb. He joined the company in 1956 and transferred to the international division in 1969. His work has taken him to many exotic locales in South America and Europe, and Rita was able to accompany him on some trips.

The McTigues have lived in Iowa, Minnesota, Canada and Pennsylvania, before moving to North Carolina. Rita raised their children and occasionally took word-processing jobs. As active volunteers in the community, Bob and Rita have helped out at the senior center in Wilmington with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program through the IRS.

Once they've settled into their new SearStone home, Rita looks forward to having time to pursue her interests, and Bob is ready to join weekly golf outings. In the meantime, they're enjoying the many excursions offered by SearStone, and don't have to worry about programming their Garmin, navigating unfamiliar streets or searching for parking.

"Eating a fine meal in the Clubhouse and then getting on the shuttle bus is so easy," said Bob.

A Space to Retire

November 18, 2013

Fred and Nadene DeJarnette are looking forward to their December move-in date at SearStone. As early believers in Bill Sears' vision, the couple has been involved with the community since 1998, and their patience is about to be rewarded.

"We've already met many of our future neighbors, and we love them," said Fred. "They all have varied and interesting backgrounds."

The same could be said of Fred and Nadene, who have been married for 61 years and have two daughters (Denise, involved in social work in Wilmington; and Lisa, a doctor in Raleigh), two grandkids and one great-granddaughter.

In the late 1950s, Fred earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Georgia Tech in what was then called aeronautical engineering. After a stint in the Army, he earned his Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in 1965 and worked as a civil service employee at NASA.

The couple relocated to North Carolina in 1970 when Fred accepted a position at N.C. State, where he has been ever since. Currently in "phased retirement," he still teaches part-time in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, both in person and remotely to a few students at the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton, Va.

Many of his students have gone on to work for NASA, and over the years his research has benefitted the organization greatly. Fred is proud of all his contributions, but perhaps is most proud of his work designing the heat shield for the space shuttle.

The bulk of Fred's research has centered around design of future space vehicles, and he is still involved with looking at designs for new vehicles to replace the retired shuttles. Most of this work is done on computers, and other engineers further the concepts by doing experimental work on models.

"I really enjoy working with students," Fred offers. "I'm excited that our department still has a good relationship with NASA and especially with their Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Through more than six decades of marriage, Nadene has been at Fred's side and supported his career. "What I enjoyed most is the foreign travel related to his work," said Nadene. "We've been to Europe more than 20 times, and to many other countries as well."

While Fred still contemplates hypersonic aerodynamics and outer space, he and Nadene are looking forward to settling into their new space at SearStone and embarking on the latest adventure in their lives.

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