Posted by Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook on 10/31/2016

A Band of Sisters

A Band of Sisters

Sylvia, Nancy, Joann and Susan are neighbors, friends and confidantes. 

They are also sisters. The four sisters are all residents of Carroll Lutheran Village, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Carroll County, Md.

A faith-based, not-for-profit community, Carroll Lutheran Village is currently celebrating its 35th anniversary. The community has grown dramatically in the last three decades and now includes nearly 300 apartments, 100 cottage homes, 50 assisted living suites, and 103 skilled nursing and rehabilitation beds. Wellness is a key component of the Village lifestyle. Through the Flourish wellness program, each resident can receive a customized wellness assessment and an individualized plan that focuses on the six dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, social, intellectual, vocational and spiritual.

Sylvia Creamer, Nancy Coats, Joann Crum and Susan Ridder are minister’s daughters who followed very different paths to the same destination—Carroll Lutheran Village. Their father, Edward A. Godsey, was a Methodist minister for his entire career, and the family moved around the area depending on where he was serving.

As adults, the Godsey sisters led diverse lifestyles in various parts of the country, but they ultimately came back together once again to follow in their father’s footsteps—which led them to Carroll Lutheran Village. Rev. Godsey moved to the Village shortly after his wife passed away.

“After our mother died, our father heard about this community that was under construction, and he decided to make the move. He was not doing well without mom, and this was such a good move for him,” recalled Susan.

Years later, Susan, the youngest of the four sisters, was actually the first to move to the Village. Susan was a nurse, and she married a doctor she met at the hospital where they were both working. The couple had four children and had been married for 27 years when he died suddenly. Susan continued to live for six more years in the home they had built in Howard County. After her children moved away, she moved to a smaller house, where she met her second husband, Herb, who lived just a block away.

By the time Susan and Herb met, he had already reserved a place at Carroll Lutheran Village. One year after their marriage, the new couple moved into a house at the Village.

“I was 64 when we met, and I had not been thinking about moving to a retirement community at all,” Susan said. “But I understood he had already made plans to move, and I had been single for 16 years, and I didn’t want to live in the house by myself, eating meals alone, any longer.”

A few years later, Sylvia, the eldest sister, followed suit and moved to the Village as well. Sylvia met her husband through the church, while the family was living in Hamilton, Md. Sylvia and Tyson (Pete) Creamer dated through high school and college.

One week after her graduation, Sylvia married 2nd Lt., USAF Pete Creamer and honeymooned at SAC Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. There, she taught kindergarten until Pete was reassigned to Hokkaido, Japan. Sylvia went home to Frederick, Md. After the birth of their first child, she and their son joined Pete in Hokkaido until he was reassigned to Ft. Campbell, KY. The young couple lived a typical military lifestyle, moving frequently with their growing family, which eventually included four children.

After her husband retired, the family moved back to Frederick, Md., and Sylvia returned to teaching. With the children pursuing their own careers or soon to be, Pete and Sylvia purchased some acreage adjoining her sister Joann’s dairy farm. There, they lived in a log cabin from the 1800s and raised market lambs. Pete learned to shear, and Sylvia learned to spin and talk sheep with anyone who would listen.

While she enjoyed the lifestyle, after Pete passed away, Sylvia decided to join Susan at Carroll Lutheran Village. She has since married a local boy, Bob Peterson, whom she met at the Village.

Joann also moved following the death of her spouse, Jack. Jack was a farmer, and Joann met him when her father was stationed as a minister at Calvary United Methodist Church in Frederick.

“I was a junior in high school when we moved from Baltimore to Frederick, and I felt like I had moved to Alaska— to the middle of nowhere,” she recalled. “I thought it was just awful.”

While her initial impression wasn’t positive, Joann became a longtime resident when she met Jack in church shortly after graduating from high school. The couple moved into an old farmhouse and began renovating, and Joann quickly learned about life on a dairy farm.

After raising three sons, Joann and Jack decided to adopt a daughter. When their daughter requested siblings, the family adopted a sibling group of two girls and a boy—bringing their family to seven kids, which the couple raised together.

Years later, when Jack died suddenly, Joann remained on the farm briefly, but she quickly decided that maintaining the house and the property was too much for her. “My son wanted me to get off the farm and just buy a little house in Frederick, but then I talked to Susan and Sylvia, who were already living here, and I decided to look at places,” she recalled. “It didn’t take me long to put my deposit down on a house that is just two houses up from Susan’s.”

While she lived in Frederick, Joann worked at an assisted living facility as a receptionist. “It was important to me that CLV was a CCRC community, and that I would be moving through the different levels of care, if need be, within the same community,” she said. “I had seen people in the assisted living residence who had been uprooted from their homes, friends and neighbors and were completely bewildered.”

Joann continued, “You hear seniors say, ‘I’m not ready for an old folks home yet!’ I feel it is important to move into
a CCRC while you are still independent and able to make that decision yourself, so you become adjusted to the new
community and lifestyle before you are forced to by life’s unexpected happenings.”

For Nancy, the journey to Carroll Lutheran Village was somewhat longer and more circuitous. She spent her teen years in Baltimore and was a sophomore at Towson State Teacher’s College when she went home to Frederick
one weekend. Her father had started hosting Friday night dances for the collegeeducated soldiers at Ft. Detrick and the Hood College girls.

“My father came to me and told me to change my clothes and go over to the Ladies Parlor for the dance because there weren’t enough girls that night,” recalled Nancy. “I borrowed a dress from Joann, and I went over, and I met a guy from Oklahoma.”

At the time, Nancy had never left the state of Maryland, and she found this young man from Oklahoma fascinating.
“He was interesting, and he was a good talker and a good dancer,” she recalled.

Jack walked Nancy home that evening, and their courtship began. Jack and Nancy married in 1954. While Jack was in medical school and interned in Oklahoma, Nancy taught elementary school. During this time, their first son was born.

After finishing his internship, Jack joined a practice in a small town in Oklahoma for a brief time. When it became obvious that this was not where they wanted to spend the rest of their lives, they moved to Farmington, New Mexico, in the Four Corners region of the country. While there, they welcomed a daughter and another son.

Jack practiced for 35 years as a solo family physician. For the last 25 years of the practice, Nancy was his office manager. They lived in Farmington for 55 years until Jack’s death in 2013.

Shortly after Jack’s death, Nancy became the last sister to move to Carroll Lutheran Village.

“I had a four bedroom house, and I wasn’t going to stay there alone,” she recalled. “I had friends in New Mexico, but he was my best friend, and I didn’t want to live alone.”

While the sisters all moved at different times from different places, they have had similarly positive experiences at their
new retirement community. “If you’re bored here, it’s your own fault,” said Sylvia. “There is always something to do here—some place to go, some people to talk to, something to learn about.”

Sylvia is a member of the Creative Expressions committee. Nancy is on the Library Committee and
participates in the Readers’ Theater and the Ladies’ Club. After taking an art class at the community, Joann developed
an interest in watercolors and now paints nearly every day. Susan is a founding member of the resident book club, which has now divided into two groups because of the high level of participation.

For the Godsey sisters, Carroll Lutheran Village has been an integral part of the family. It was their father’s home during his twilight years, and the sisters all fondly remember how happy he was after moving.

Now, Carroll Lutheran Village is home to all four sisters. This band of sisters has shared many memories over the years. Today, they share morning walks, breakfasts, dinners, birthday lunches, trips—and a remarkable bond.

By Christy Brudin

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