Posted by Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook on 12/20/2017

A Century of Dreams

A Century of Dreams

When Anne Revis Grosvenor was a little girl growing up in India, she dreamed of a life back in her native United States. She also dreamed of some day working for the magazine that regularly transported her to the U.S. and around the world: National Geographic. Over the course of the next century, Anne realized that dream—and so many others.

In January 2018, Anne will celebrate her 100th birthday with friends and family at Great Falls Assisted Living, the memory care community in Herndon, Va. where she lives. However, a milestone this big deserves more than one day of celebration, and Anne got an early start at the Celebrate Centenarians event in November. She was one of the 21 honorees at the annual luncheon to recognize centenarians in Northern Virginia.

Anne moved to Great Falls Assisted Living four years ago because she needed help managing her daily routine. She is now able to live in a safe environment but still enjoy stimulating activities and time in the beautiful, secure courtyard.

Great Falls Assisted Living is managed by Artis Senior Living and owned by the Bainum family. The Bainum’s have had a long-term focus and investment in the senior living industry, dating back to 1960. As a result, they designed Great Falls Assisted Living to deliver an enriched quality of life for individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, while also being cognizant of the challenges faced by their families.

Anne’s road to Great Falls Assisted Living was filled with many dreams—and many dreams come true.

At the age of nine, Anne left the states to move to India with her parents and her five younger siblings. Anne’s father had retired from the business world to serve as a Methodist missionary, and the family settled in Mussoorie, India. Anne attended the Woodstock School, one of the oldest residential schools in Asia, located in the foothills of the Himalayas.

“My mother loved her experience at The Woodstock School, which enabled her to skip two grades,” Anne’s daughter, Sara Grosvenor said.

While Anne flourished living internationally, she also wanted to stay abreast of everything that was happening back in the United States. “My mom and her siblings all read National Geographic to keep up with things in the States,” Sara explained. “My mom especially treasured them and read them over and over.”

After five years in India, the family began preparing to move back to New Jersey. Anne’s mother told her to dispose of her large collection of National Geographics while they were packing.

“My mom just did not want to get rid of them, so she rolled them into the rugs that were being shipped to the States,” Sara said. “She was never a disobedient child, but she just couldn’t get rid of those magazines.”

Back in the U.S., Anne attended Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Virginia. She majored in history and English, and after graduation attended the Katherine Gibbs School in New York, where she trained to become a professional secretary and researcher.

“Then she got her first job,” Sara recalled. “She was hired as a researcher in Colonial Williamsburg when John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was financially supporting the restoration work there.”

When research stopped in Williamsburg during World War II, Anne got a job at the University of Virginia Medical School. Later, she applied to National Geographic, a magazine she continued to love. However, they had no vacancies at the time, and she moved to Richmond to work for another medical college.

“Just a week after she started her new job in Richmond, the Human Resources Director with National Geographic called to offer my mom a job,” Sara said. “She declined because she didn’t want to quit the job she had just started, but she let them know that she would love to work there some day.”

Luckily for Anne, “some day” came within the year. The Human Resources Director was impressed by Anne’s integrity and commitment to her new position. She called her six months later to ask if she’d still be interested in working for the magazine.

Anne accepted, and she finally started her dream job, as a researcher/writer under Melville Grosvenor, then an Editor at National Geographic. “Mom told stories of how separated the men and women were in those days,” Sara recalled. “They had different dining rooms. The women were told to wear nice dresses and gloves, and everything was very proper.”

Melville Grosvenor was very impressed by Anne’s extensive travels, quick wit, editorial skill and commitment to work. “Dad fell in love,” Sara said simply.

Shortly after Anne’s first article was published in National Geographic — a piece titled “Mr. Jefferson’s Charlottesville” — Melville asked her to marry him. Anne pondered the proposal for three weeks before agreeing. Her hesitancy was not because she wasn’t in love, but because she knew she would have to leave her dream job.

“She left the Geographic, but her skills weren’t wasted,” Sara said. “She was a terrific help mate to Dad in his career. He ultimately became the President and Editor of the Geographic. He often relied on her to help him formulate stories and to find the right word if he was stuck while writing. She was rarely stumped.”

Melville and Anne settled in Bethesda, Md., and raised two children. When Melville passed away in 1982, Anne continued to live in their family home independently for many years.

Eventually Sara and her brother, Ed, started to notice that their mother was showing signs of dementia; they became concerned for her safety. “She had one of the most brilliant memories I’ve ever known. She helped my dad, and she also helped both my brother and me in our journalism careers,” Sara noted. “When I started realizing that her memory was fading, I was worried.”

Sara began looking at assisted living options, and quickly realized she needed guidance. She turned to a Care Manager to navigate the many local options. “The Care Manager really helped me sort through all the variables and weigh the pros and cons. This really was an emotional roller coaster, so I was grateful to have help,” she said.

Ultimately, Sara selected Great Falls Assisted Living because of its welcoming atmosphere and beautiful backyard. She also liked that it is a small facility that specializes in dementia care. This means that the staff is able to allow residents to be as independent as possible.

Both Anne and Sara have been happy with her new community— and newfound social life. “Mom had been isolated in her house for many years and that worried me even before there were memory issues,” Sara said. “Here, she engages with people all the time. She has friends, and she enjoys the activities. She especially loves it when they have entertainers come to sing, when children visit, or when people bring in animals.”

Anne Grosvenor has been dreaming for a century—and making those dreams come true for almost as long. From imagining her life back in the United States while studying at her school that overlooked the Himalayas, to working for the magazine that helped bring her dreams to life, she has done so much in her long life. Now, Anne is celebrating her 100th year with her beloved family and her friends at Great Falls Assisted Living.

By Christy Brudin


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