Resident Stories

We are blessed to be caring for and supporting the greatest generation of American pioneers and heroes. Please enjoy the resident stories we have below and then reach out to us to schedule a personal tour of our award-winning community.

Jim and Jane Dukovic - Dancing on the Roof

When Jim Dukovic wants to get a double take from a new acquaintance, he’ll tell the tale of how he met his wife Jane.

“I tell them, I met her on the roof of my house,” he says with a chuckle.

Strange, but true, at least from a certain point of view.

Jim was a native of Pittsburgh and had come to see about a job in Baltimore, Jane’s hometown.

“There was a YMCA and every Thursday night, I’d go there and there’d be a dance,” Jane remembers. “Anyone could come, you didn’t have to pay, it was just for fun.  In the summertime when it was too hot in the gym, we’d dance up on the roof.”

While it might have been party time for the Baltimore kids, young Jim was just looking for a good night’s rest, having rented a room at the Y after taking a 250-mile train ride. But when the music started blaring and his ceiling began to shake, he went to go investigate.

That was 68 years ago. Jim and Jane, both 91, are still together, now living at Spring Mill in Pennsylvania.

Moving to the retirement community was a slam dunk for the couple, as it’s barely a four-mile drive from the home they’d previously lived in since the 1950s. 

The very day the couple got married, they moved to Chester County, Pennsylvania, what Jim calls “the most beautiful county in Pennsylvania.”

“I worked for the Boy Scouts of America for 35 years,” Jim says. “I organized units to raise money and generally made the whole program work.”

Jane taught math and science to seventh and eighth graders and later was one of the first teachers to introduce public school students to the world of computers.

Even the couple’s plans for a family went almost picture perfect.


“We wanted to have four children - the girls first and then the boys,” Jane says. “And that’s exactly what happened, we had two girls and then two boys. We’re a very close family, even now. One of our kids lives in California, and the other three are all in the general area. We see them at least once a month and we’ve got 10 grandchildren, although no great-grandchildren yet.”

 

Retirement was going fine and dandy until the day Jane fell and broke some bones in her pelvis.

“She obviously needed assistance,” Jim says.

“I moved in and I was here for six months in assisted living,” Jane adds. “Jim used to come see me three times day and everyone would say, ‘Why doesn’t he just move in here with you?’”

Jim eventually did, but only after he spent 44 days on his own in another hospital for reasons still not understood, although Jim believes Lyme Disease was to blame.

The couple has found Spring Mill to be the closest thing to home without actually being there.

“We’re in a great area, we’re very close to the hospital, to our doctors, and to our church,” Jane says. “The driver takes us shopping to the grocery store, the dollar store, and anywhere else we could want to go.”

“Everyone has a sister, an aunt, a mother living here,” Jim adds. “That’s the main thing, it’s close to everything and close to family. We’re close to Philadelphia, we’re not too far from New York City, basically we feel like we’re still in the world.”

Margaret Ross - I'm Not Done Working

If you’re a customer calling a Medicare hotline or help line, there’s a chance you’ll end up talking to Margaret Ross on the other end. Friendly and courteous, Ross uses her years of experience as a registered nurse to soothe customers’ concerns about costs and prescriptions, but for those patients over the age of 65 she also brings a unique perspective that they rarely experience: She’s one of them.

The aches and pains of getting older? She’s been there. The frustration with doctors who make you wait an hour then give you only minutes of her time, she knows it. The agonizing decision of taking or not taking medicine, when the side effects are nearly as bad as the illness. Yep, she has been through it to.

You see, Margaret Ross is 80 years old.

“I’m still actively working,” the six-year resident of Spring Mill in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, says. “I still am a licensed Medicare insurance agency and I work primarily by phone. I answered the hotline and the help line for people with questions. It allows me to work as much as I want and yet have plenty of space to do it in. All I need is a phone and a computer.”

Between the failing Social Security system and the Great Recession of the past decade, retiring around 65 years of age ceased to become an option for a frightening number of older Americans. In a study done by The Atlantic, the number of senior citizens in the workforce rose from fewer than 3 million in 1984 to 8 million in 2014.

For Ross, it’s got nothing to do with the financials and everything to do with staying active and continuing to feel like she’s making a difference.

Born in Maine, she lived in the Pine Tree State throughout high school and into the opening days of her career as a registered nurse. She dearly loves her native state, but when an offer came around in her early days, she had to jump on it.

“I had a job offer on the West Coast that was twice as much money, so I up and moved,” she recalls. “I went to work in Long Beach, California, and stayed there for 15 years.”

While she relished the adventure of the Left Coast, she continued to come home to Maine every couple of years. When an offer came up back home that equaled her current salary, she lept at the opportunity.

“It’s one of the things I like most about the job,” she explains. “Anytime you want, you can just get up and go. And I never had to worry about being unemployed.”

When she came back, it was for 35 years and on to her retirement in Lewiston, Maine, a town of 36,000 in the central part of the state.

As much as she loved Maine, she was the only member of her family living there, with the rest largely settled in Pennsylvania.

“They weren’t about to all come to Maine to live, so it was my turn to do something for the family,” she said.

Ross had already done a lot of planning and preparing to move, but was visiting friends on the West Coast when Hurricane Sandy came ashore on the other side of the country.

“I had to wait it out, I couldn’t even get back to Maine,” she recalls. “All the damage that was done, it was a whole other year before I actually moved in.”

Ross has since been joined at Spring Mill by her brother and sister in law, who live in the assisted living facility. The touch of home is most welcome for Ross, who also plays bingo three times a week, watches movies both in the community and outside of it, and enjoys the facility’s live entertainment.

 

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Bill and Mary Louise Ross - High School Sweethearts

Parkinson’s disease is a miserable thing. It starts in the smallest of ways, a tremor here, stiffness there, but once it takes a hold, it has no known cure or preventive measures, and only gets worse with time. It rises up out of nowhere and then disappears for a while, only to come back again. The best anyone can do is make the best of things.

That’s how Bill and Mary Louise Ross see it.

Mary Louise has Parkinson’s. On the day of this interview, it keeps her sidelined. Her mind is willing and her spirit is fierce, but right now, today, the disease is winning.

But Mary Louise has a secret weapon against Parkinson’s. His name is Bill.

“We met in high school,” Bill speaks fondly of his wife of 55 years. “My father was in the Army and we ended up stationed at Valley Forge and my last two years of high school were with her.”

Post-high school, Bill went to college in Maine to become a chemical engineer while Mary Louise attended Immaculata University.  After spending two years in the Army stationed in Massachusetts, the couple moved back to Pennsylvania where Bill took a job at the Container Corporation of America.

Bill worked in paperboard, developing a way to make it out of 100 percent recycled materials. He put in 40 years at the same company before retiring.

Along the way the couple expanded to three children, who eventually brought seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild into the fold.

After retirement, they began to notice the tell-tale signs of Parkinson’s in Mary Louise. “Things were getting worse, and I couldn’t take care of her, myself, and the house all at once, so we moved in February of last year.”

They found Spring Mill Senior Living in nearby Phoenixville, where both unassisted and assisted living units are available. The move was easy for Bill, an Army brat who had been shipped around a ton during childhood. Not so much for Mary Louise, who had lived in the same house for some 50 years.

“She was very attached to that place, but it just showed the difference in our upbringing,” Bill says. “She was used to being in one place, and I was used to being on the go.”

A big difference-maker in easing the transition for the Rosses has been the sight of a familiar face.

“My sister moved down here from Maine,” Bill says. “We had looked around and looked into this place before. She lives in the independent living, and when it was our turn to make a change, we decided to move in to.”

While Spring Mill offers a whole bevy of activities during the day, Bill’s main focus remains taking care of Mary Louise. But both of them enjoy the good series of programs that keep them active during the day.

“I work on puzzles, and I like to talk to people as they come in and become our new neighbors,” Bill says. “My wife goes to different activities when she’s feeling good, it keeps her active and it keeps her mind active. The girls always have something for her to do, something for her to make, and that keeps her happy.”