So many things go into making Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge a fantastic place to spend the rest of your life: The beautiful setting. The variety of welcoming residential accommodations. The five-star dining. The wellness programs. The medical care for those who need it. The Lifecare plan. And of course, the way our associates go out of their way to make sure you have everything you need and want.
But in addition to all that, there is one thing that makes WCBR a uniquely fascinating place: your fellow residents. People who live here have distinguished themselves in a staggering array of careers, all over the world. And sometimes, we tell their stories here on the blog:
- For instance, meet the Authers, Roger and Donna, who joined our community in January 2021. Donna is originally from Pittsburgh, and Roger was born and raised in Devonshire, England. So how did they meet? At a conference in Paris. Donna was there as an executive with IBM, and Roger was a consultant in the IT field. They moved together to Connecticut, where Donna, leaving IBM, started a new career. She is the author (with an O) of a book on the subject: A Sacred Walk: Dispelling the Fear of Death and Caring for the Dying. Since moving to Charlottesville, she has done local hospice work, but also traveled to give lectures on her area of expertise.
- Jim Craig has delivered one of our WILL lectures – that stands for Westminster Institute of Lifelong Learning, and it takes advantage of this great strength we have here: our fascinating residents, the things they know and the stories they have to tell. Jim spoke on the subject of centenarians – and he did so just days before turning 100 himself! He was further qualified to talk about longevity by the fact that he’s not only a retired physician, but an emeritus professor of medicine from the University of Virginia.
- Another centenarian, Eileen Foster, came a long way and had a lot of adventures on her way to Charlottesville. She graduated from high school in China, where her father was stationed in the 1930s. In the mid-40s, she accompanied her husband to Germany and helped displaced persons get resettled after the war. Later, the Fosters would find the son of one of those displaced people – now a doctor here in Charlottesville. They were among the first people to move into WCBR, when we opened 30 years ago.
- Horst Wallrabe is another WILL lecturer, who spoke on circadian rhythm. Horst had an illustrious career in the pharmaceutical industry, and was president of Bayer USA. Bayer introduced a number of prescription medicines in the cardiovascular and dermatology fields under his leadership. But that was as an administrator; he only got into the science after retirement. He dove into studies of cellular science at UVA, and helped university scientists make important discoveries into how cells communicate with each other and multiply. He works hard at it, often putting in more time than paid staff, and has been the lead author or co-author of 15 journal articles and 18 book chapters and conference proceedings.
- Mary Slaughter made sports history in the early 1950s, right here in Charlottesville. She wasn’t really trying to. She was just trying to get better at tennis. Of course, she was already amazingly good. She was the first woman to play a varsity sport at the University of Virginia, and the first to win a letter. What’s really amazing is that this was long before women were admitted to the school, and she played as a member of the men’s tennis team. She didn’t see this as remarkable. Neither did her teammates, because they knew how good she was.
- Dick Hiss is another WILL lecturer, and has had some good stories to tell about his career. There was, for instance, the talk about his involvement with building the then-supersecret SR-71 Blackbird, which to this day remains the fastest airplane that has ever flown. Another time he presented about when he spent several months in 1980 in Singapore and other points East, helping chart a new course for global business. The world was opening up, Asian countries were eager to develop and make products to sell abroad, and Dick helped make that happen.
These are just a few of the many remarkable people who enliven our lives by being our neighbors at WCBR. They are good people to know. Watch for more of their stories here on the blog.