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Posted by Positive Aging Community on 11/10/2015

From Seashore to Summit

From Seashore to Summit

They have climbed Mt. Rainier. They have sailed the Chesapeake Bay. They have driven crosscountry six times, logging more than 47,000 miles. Dick and Harriet Burkhart have been very busy since retiring. In addition to traveling and exploring, Dick and Harriet also put moving on their retirement to-do list. When the couple found Ginger Cove, a continuing care retirement community in Annapolis, Md., they knew they were home. Ginger Cove provides residents with an independent lifestyle that meets their unique needs. Features include private apartments, an array of personal services, the security of an on-site professional health center, and a sound financial plan.

Dick and Harriet’s exciting journey began in the 1940s when they met in high school. Both natives of a small town in Berks County, Pennsylvania, the high school sweethearts were married in 1952. After Dick joined the U.S. Navy, the couple moved to Maine and then lived apart briefly while he was assigned to Norfolk, Va. When Dick left the Navy, the couple welcomed a son, and Dick decided to go to college. “We did it backwards,” Harriet said with a smile. “We had a young son and then we were off to college. We spent four years in Rochester, New York, at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where Dick majored in photo science.”

After graduating, Dick got a job with Kodak, which was headquartered in Rochester near the university. “I went to Kodak in 1960, thinking I’d be there for a year and a half or so,” Dick explained. What was supposed to be a short training program turned into a lifelong career. Dick remained with Kodak in several different positions until he retired in 1991.

While still in Rochester, the couple had a daughter, and the new family of four moved to Boston for Dick’s job. They remained in Boston for several years before relocating to Annapolis, Md., so Dick could commute to Washington, D.C., where he served as a District Manager for Kodak until his retirement.

“We came to Annapolis initially because we were sailing enthusiasts and someone told us to look in Annapolis,” Dick recalled. “We settled here, and we never left.”

“We had a sailboat in New England,” Harriet added. “But sailing out of Marblehead was quite different because it was so windy in the North Atlantic you sometimes wondered if you were going to England, rather than back to the United States.”

While the couple continues to enjoy the smoother sailing from Annapolis, they decided that retirement would give them the opportunity to pursue some other passions—including traveling and hiking.

“When Dick retired, we bought a little mobile home and decided to discover the country. We would travel for six to eight weeks at a time,” Harriet said. “We made six cross-country trips and traveled 47,000 miles.” Not satisfied to simply explore the country on wheels, the Burkharts set a lofty goal: they were going to climb the highest peaks in each state.

“We had always enjoyed hiking, so when Dick suggested that we climb all the highest peaks, I quickly agreed,” Harriet remembered. “That was our aim and we worked on that until he had a heart attack and the cardiologist no longer wanted him to go over 10,000 feet. We climbed the highest peaks in 44 of the 50 states though.”

For the Burkharts, every climb was an opportunity to experience the dynamic landscapes of the states. “They were all so different,” said Harriet. Dick added, “For instance, in Florida, there’s just no mountaintop. It was somewhat embarrassing to say we were climbing. It’s very low.”

While Florida proved to be less than strenuous, the Burkharts also took on some advanced hikes. They climbed Mt. Whitney in California, the highest summit in the contiguous United States. “That was a very interesting climb, but it wasn’t the hardest,” noted Harriet.

The hardest climb, according to the Burkharts, was Mt. Rainier in Washington. “You have to go up and acclimate to the height for a week, and then you have to take a training course, and you have to pass a test,” said Dick.

After years of traveling and climbing, Dick and Harriet began thinking about downsizing. “We started climbing at age 60, so we were definitely getting older and started thinking about how we wanted to live,” Dick said. “We began looking at different communities near Annapolis. We had already visited Ginger Cove to see friends, and we had heard so many good things about it, so we came to see if it was right for us.”

The Burkharts decided to make the move to Ginger Cove during their very first tour. “We were only half way through the tour when we went into the Health Center and Harriet turned to me and said, ‘This is the place I’d like to be,’” recalled Dick. “Well, my whole goal in looking at retirement communities was to make sure my wife is always well taken care of, so we decided then and there that Ginger Cove was the right place for us.”

Since moving to Ginger Cove early this year, the couple has been thrilled with their new lifestyle. “It’s really hard to say what has impressed us the most here—the people and their friendliness or the campus that is so beautiful,” said Dick. Harriet continued, “I can’t imagine anybody being here and not being content. Everyone is always smiling and always welcoming.”

The Burkharts have quickly become active participants in their new community. Harriet enjoys gardening in Ginger Cove’s well-maintained plot and was thrilled to share her abundant crop of tomatoes last summer. Dick spends a lot of time in the woodworking shop on campus and is currently working on a piece of furniture for St. Anne’s Church. Not surprisingly, the active couple also spends a lot of time walking around the community and in the surrounding area. However, the Burkharts’ favorite activity in their new home is socializing with their fellow residents. “Hosting a cocktail party here is entirely different,” Harriet noted. “You have cocktails and sit and relax and enjoy each other’s company and then you go to the dining room for a delicious dinner. It’s just so easy and enjoyable with no meal preparation to worry about.”

Dick and Harriet have certainly made the most of retirement. They have traveled by RV and foot from seashore to summit and back again. Now settled in at Ginger Cove, they are taking advantage of all their new home has to offer. The active couple has reached many peaks in the last several years, but they show no signs of peaking.

By Christy Brudin

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