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Posted by Positive Aging Community on 08/09/2016

An American Love Story

An American Love Story

Fred Pfifferling has a lot of love. He loves opera. He loves learning. He loves his family. He loves his community. He loves his country. And, above all else, he loves his wife.

Now a resident at The Landing at Willow Grove, a personal and memory care community in Willow Grove, Penn., Fred’s story is the ultimate love story. In fact, it was his love that led him to his current home.

When his wife, Irene, needed additional care for her worsening dementia, Fred moved with her to the community, so they would not have to be separated. Located directly on a beautiful lake, The Landing at Willow Grove provides affordable, resident-centered services, including assistance with the activities of daily living and household tasks, chefprepared meals, transportation, a full schedule of activities and ample social opportunities.

Both born in Nazi Germany, Fred and Irene fled the country separately with their families as young children. Their paths would not cross until years later in the United States—and an American love story would begin.

Fred spent his teenage years in New York City with his parents. He inherited his fierce patriotism from his father, a first generation American who fully appreciated all that his adopted country offered him and his family. “My father was a butcher, and with his very first paycheck he bought an American flag,” Fred recalled fondly. “He hung that flag out on every special occasion until the day that he died. He was so happy to be an American.”

As a young man, Fred attended City College of New York and attained a degree in electrical engineering. Early on, he knew what he wanted, and he chose his career path against the advice of his high school counselor. “My counselor told me not to study engineering because the War had ended, and the defense industry wasn’t doing well,” he recalled. “I decided that it was my passion, and I didn’t care—or I just didn’t know better.”

Fred’s career choice was fortuitous. Shortly after he graduated, America entered the Korean War, and Fred and his classmates were sought after as young engineers. He was immediately hired by Philco and moved to the Philadelphia area.

After four years with Philco, Fred got a position with RCA and remained with the company for more than 30 years. He worked on a diverse array of projects over the years, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile and the Apollo program.

One evening after dropping his parents off at the train station in Philadelphia, the young Fred decided to attend a single’s dance at the local synagogue. “All the girls were lined up on one side, and the boys were on the other, and we had to go over and ask them to dance,” he recalled. “I saw Irene, and that was it.”

During their dance, Fred and Irene quickly learned that they had very similar backgrounds, having both emigrated from the same general area of Germany as children. Fred walked Irene home that night, and their first dance quickly led to a second date. Just four months later, the couple was engaged with the enthusiastic blessing of both of their families.

“Our parents loved us together,” Fred said. “They were all delighted that we had found each other, and that we shared the same German Jewish background.”

Beyond the blessing of their parents, Fred has always felt that his union with Irene was blessed on a spiritual level. “We fit so well together. I have always thought that our relationship was holy,” he said. “I have been married for 62 years now, and every year just gets better.”

Fred and Irene went on to have two children. After one of their daughters passed away, they also helped to raise their two grandsons, who are now a big part of their lives.

Several years ago, Fred and Irene transitioned from their long-time family home in Elkins Park to an active adult community, where they had a condo. However, as time passed, the couple realized that they needed more assistance with the activities of daily living. While they did not want to leave their beloved neighborhood in Willow Grove, they did want more help.

That is when the Pfifferlings found The Landing at Willow Grove. At the personal and memory care community, the couple can get the unique blend of care they need. Irene is safe and secure in the memory unit, but she is still able to share an apartment with Fred.

Since moving, Fred has been impressed with the level of service offered at The Landing, as well as the dining options. “The Landing is immaculately clean, and that is wonderful,” he said. “The food here is superb; it really is just delicious.” In addition to the beautiful facility and excellent dining options, Fred and Irene enjoy the scenic surroundings. “The Landing is a beautiful place. The lake and the grounds are so nice,” Fred said. “We have been very happy here.”

At 87, Fred remains active and engaged in his new community. In addition to reading many magazines and newspapers daily, Fred also watches politics on television. He is currently working to establish a discussion group among the residents at The Landing. “I want to give other people the opportunity to exercise their minds and connect with each other,” he said.

When he is not reading about or discussing politics, Fred likes listening to opera and classical music. He has hundreds of CDs and DVDs in his apartment that he enjoys regularly.

While he is passionate about his interests, Fred remains most committed to the relationship that has sustained him throughout his life. “I didn’t become what I became by myself,” he emphasized. “My wife Irene backed me up every step of the way, and I could never have made it without her. I think she would say the same thing.”

At the Landing at Willow Grove, Fred and Irene are able to continue living together despite her increased memory care needs. Fred is grateful that he can remain by his wife’s side, and Irene draws immense strength from his comforting presence and his unending love.

From a serendipitous meeting to a lifetime of precious memories, the Pfifferlings have written a love story that is all their own—yet all American. And the story continues.

By Christy Brudin

For more information, enter keyword: The Landing at Willow Grove

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