Meet Harvest Hill Resident Carl Cassel

Carl came to Harvest Hill a retired magistrate after a long and illustrious career in the Navy where he served around the world and was a part of historical events that helped shape the United States.

Born and raised in Norristown, Pennsylvania, after graduating from high school Carl moved to Rhode Island where he earned a history degree from Brown University. He was a member of the Navy ROTC program and after graduation served four years in the Mediterranean and Caribbean and as the junior engineer in charge of the engine room on a ship that was part of the naval blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Carl married his wife Nancy in Massachusetts before being transferred to California and serving aboard the U.S.S. Ticonderoga in Southeast Asia at the start of the Vietnam War. When he was released from active duty they journeyed to Pennsylvania where he earned his juris doctorate from the Dickinson School of Law and moved to Rhode Island to practice corporate law.

Carl decided to rejoin the Navy in the Judge Advocate General’s Corp which took him to Norway, New London, Florida, Washington D.C., Scotland and Italy. In his second career with the Navy, he served as a staff lawyer, a lower court military judge and coordinated U.S. military activities with the Italian Ministry of Justice. In his last year of active-duty Carl served as a special assistant to the general counsel of the CIA.

“I had a great time with it,” Carl says of his long and unique Navy career.

After retiring from the Navy, Carl and Nancy stayed in Virginia where he was a state magistrate until 2000. They spent three years exploring new places to call home before settling on Orford, New Hampshire where they lived for over 20 years. Carl served as the town Treasurer for nine years, was a library trustee and a member of the Conservation Commission.

Carl is new to Harvest Hill, having moved from another senior living community for the bigger apartments, numerous walking trails, great food and wonderful staff.

“I see a smile everywhere and they can’t do enough for you,” Carl says of the Harvest Hill team. “They all know my name and are happy to help you with whatever you need.”

Carl stays busy walking the beautiful, wooded trails surrounding the Harvest Hill community, attending the group Brainteaser game, concerts, and the book read-aloud group. Besides the great location where he can walk to his primary care doctor’s office and the abundance of fun outings and activities, Carl says another reason he loves it at Harvest Hill is the food.

“It’s all so good and I really enjoy it,” he says.

Meet Harvest Hill Resident Patricia “Pat” Renshaw

Meet Harvest Hill Resident Patricia “Pat” Renshaw

Patricia “Pat” Renshaw has lived all over the United States, raised four sons, and worked in three distinctly different careers. She moved into Harvest Hill three years ago and couldn’t be happier with her decision.

“Harvest Hill is such a friendly, warm and receptive place. I felt very comfortable coming here,” Pat says.

Pat spent her childhood years going to school in NYC during the week, while her weekends, summers and holiday breaks were spent on the family farm in upstate New York. She moved with her mother to Jacksonville, Illinois to finish high school then earned a degree in psychology from Antioch College in Ohio. After a year studying human development in graduate school at the University of Chicago, she became a counselor for psychotic children. It was rewarding but extremely demanding work.

Looking for a fresh start, Pat began her second career in Chicago as a research director for an advertising agency. She met her husband at a square dance and after getting married, they lived all over the United States due to his career, in Long Island New York, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Los Angeles, California, and Washington D.C., just to name a few. Along the way they had four sons and decided to settle down in Albany, New York to finish raising them.  During this time, she served on the Guilderland school board for 12 years.

When her oldest children were in high school Pat knew it was time for a new career and returned to school to earn an MBA. She then spent 20 years in the New York state Office of Mental Health as a systems designer and analyst.

After retiring she and her husband moved to Hanover, New Hampshire to be near their son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. When she was ready for a change, Pat toured all the area senior living communities. The friendly welcoming environment and the fact her daughter-in-law’s father was so happy as a resident convinced her Harvest Hill was the right place for her.

“Harvest Hill has such an outgoing and friendly staff that are always available and willing to help you with anything,” Pat says.

Pat has a wide circle of friends that she met through various community activities. She enjoys going to the exercise classes, being in the book club and volunteers in the library. In the summer she plays Bocce ball and takes in the many musical performances the community hosts. Pat is a regular in the dining room, especially to enjoy breakfast and lunch with friends, but also appreciates the option to order take-out for dinner and a relaxing evening in.  

Meet Woodlands Resident Ray Scherer

Former Lutheran pastor Ray Scherer visited eight different retirement communities in four states before deciding The Woodlands was where he wanted to make his new home. He was impressed by how friendly and welcoming residents and staff were and it also brought him closer to two of his sons and their families. He has only lived at The Woodlands since September and is looking forward to his first summer here.

Ray grew up in the small town of Olney in southern Illinois. He spent his teen years driving a tractor and working the family farm.

“We did not have electricity before World War II and we farmed with horses until I was in the 5th grade, so I’m from a different era,” Ray says.

After graduating from high school, Ray went to college at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio and then attended seminary at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago where he earned both a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctor of Divinity degree.

His career as a Lutheran pastor began in Joliet and Kirkland, Illinois before he moved to Southampton, Pennsylvania with his wife and three sons. Ray served as the pastor of a church there for over two decades and lived there for forty years. During that time, he travelled to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and all over Europe. He and his wife hosted five German exchange students when their sons were in high school, and all three boys were exchange students in Germany. Ray still likes to travel whenever possible and he has three timeshares in New York City, Williamsburg, Virginia, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

While he misses his old friends in Pennsylvania, Ray says he has not had any problem meeting people and making new friends every day at The Woodlands.

“There are a lot of activities here and everyone is so friendly and welcoming. The highlight of the day is gathering in the dining room each evening and sitting with different people for every meal. It’s a great way to get to know new people. As a clergy person, people are very important to me, and I like to visit and get to know them. That’s how friendships are established,” Ray says.

Ray may have lived at The Woodlands only a few months, but he is already very involved in community activities and is looking forward to participating in more this summer. He serves as the team leader for Saturday night movies and is tasked with choosing the movies based on resident feedback. He sings in The Woodlands chorus as well.

Ray is also staying busy decorating his apartment and has an impressive art collection including a 17th century painting by a Dutch Master, and three 19th Century paintings from Austria, France, and Great Britain.

“I have a beautiful apartment that overlooks the woods, and I am filling the walls with my art collection. I am truly a connoisseur of the arts – music, art, and the theater,” Ray says.

Meet Woodlands Resident Betsey Barnes

Meet Woodlands Resident Betsey Barnes

Betsey Barnes has travelled for much of her life as the wife of a Foreign Service Officer. In the process she has published two novels and is now writing her third.  

When she’s not writing she is connecting with other residents of The Woodlands and enjoys hearing their stories.

“Stories are so interesting to me – always have been. Everybody has a story,” Betsey says. 

Betsey grew up in New Jersey and spent her teen years in the Bronx, New York. She was the oldest of three children and especially close to her brother John.  Her father was a minister, so the family moved to different parishes. Her mother was a college graduate, unusual for the times, and instilled in her daughter the importance of learning and a love of writing.

Betsey’s first wish was to be an actress and she became very involved in theater at her alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, serving as president of the Dramatic Society.  

After graduation she married Harry, her brother’s roommate. As a career foreign service couple, Harry’s assignments took them around the world. From their first posting in Bombay, India, they went to Prague, Czechoslovakia, then to Oberammergau, a town in the Bavarian Alps, Germany, where they studied Russian. Their next assignment was Moscow, capital of the Soviet Union.

Following assignments took them to Kathmandu, Bucharest twice, back to New Delhi, India and finally to Santiago, Chile. Betsey’s stories are borrowed from her experiences traveling the world to these postings.

During their years in the Service, it was their luck to meet Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. They also spent time with first ladies Jackie Kennedy and Barbara Bush. Harry eventually worked in Georgia and travelled with Jimmy Carter.

Betsey and Harry retired to pastoral Peacham, Vermont, onto land with views of the distant White Mountains of New Hampshire. They came to The Woodlands in its earliest months and found an apartment with sunlight from sunrise to sunset with enough space for all their needs. After Harry died, Betsey found comfort with residents who had gone through the same grieving experiences. Now she looks forward to dinner with her Woodland friends every night in the dining room.

Betsey is the author of two novels, “Unforgiving Heights” and “Far is the Moon of My Home.”  She shares her home with two “wonderful cats, Corky and Patchy” and is busy writing her third novel.

Meet Harvest Hill Resident Beverly Weeks

Meet Harvest Hill Resident Beverly Weeks

Beverly Weeks put a deposit down for an apartment 20 years ago when Harvest Hill was just breaking ground. Well, she finally moved in last November. She’s getting every penny’s worth of that deposit, too, taking advantage of all the community has to offer, trying out new activities, getting to know her neighbors and is so pleased to call Harvest Hill home.

The Harvest Hill community creates a new lifestyle for Beverly after living as a single working person for over 40 years. She was born in Chicago, Illinois but moved to Lebanon in the early 60s, then to White River Junction before moving to Harvest Hill.

Her daughter and son graduated from Lebanon High School, and both now live out of state. Beverly began to volunteer at the Lebanon Junior High School helping students with learning difficulties in the late 1970s. To become a licensed special education teacher Beverly commuted to Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire for three years while working full-time at the junior high school. She earned a master’s degree in education in 1987. Upon retirement from the Lebanon school district, she embarked on a new career working part-time in the floral department of the Hanover Co-op Food Store in Hanover, New Hampshire. Her floral career lasted 18 years.

“As I had an undergraduate degree in biology, I was familiar with plants, but had no training in design techniques, sales, or marketing. My co-workers were excellent teachers and very supportive. It was truly a learning experience,” Beverly says.

Beverly shares an apartment with her cat, Violet who is, “head of the household.” She has an assortment of plants that need a green thumb and greatly enjoys the Harvest Hill Conservatory with plants “that bring color to a gray or snowy day,” Beverly says.

As reading is her favorite pastime, she is pleased that the Harvest Hill library is “outstanding and so well organized I do not want for anything to read,” Beverly says.

She has gotten more involved in her new home and accepted a three-year appointment as a member-at-large on the Executive Board of Harvest Hill Residents Association. Concerns expressed by residents and staff are shared with board members.

“Living at Harvest Hill is so comfortable and pleasant. The staff members called me by name soon after my arrival. They are all friendly and helpful. The activities abound thanks to the energy of Activities Director, Carla Venti. There is something for anyone who wishes to participate,” Beverly says.

Beverly enjoyed the recent Mardi Gras Party Carla organized, complete with New Orleans food treats, beads, decorations, and live music from the Dixieland band that played handclapping, singing, toe- tapping tunes, “and lots of smiles complimented the laughter and good cheer of this event,” Beverly says.

Beverly appreciates the ever-changing selection of food provided by the Harvest Hill kitchen. Residents enjoy choosing from a wide variety of healthy fresh foods and requests are usually honored, from fancy fare to the basics.

Meet Woodlands Resident Molly Bonhag

Meet Woodlands Resident Molly Bonhag

Since moving to The Woodlands in September 2020, longtime Lebanon resident Molly Bonhag said she has met a wonderful group of friends, broadened her social circle and discovered a meaningful, new form of community.

“Living at The Woodlands has been wonderful,” said Molly. “It’s everything I was hoping it would be. What’s interesting about this place is you can be as social or as private as you choose to be, and people are very accepting. I think it’s a very good thing because it accommodates everybody’s differences and choices.”

So far, Molly has also enjoyed getting involved in the various on-campus, resident-organized activities available for anyone to try.

“We have a lot of exercise classes, we have a gym, we have Tai Chi,” said Molly. “I also play the piano for The Woodlands chorus, and another resident and I take turns playing the piano for our monthly socials. We used to have singalongs but since COVID, we’ve had hum-a-longs!”

Molly’s life has always been full of music. She started playing the piano at age five, switching to the organ in high school. In 1990, she, her husband and three children moved to Lebanon, where she worked as a music teacher. There, she also ran a preschool program called Kindermusik, gave piano lessons, and was a church organist and choir director.

While it’s been somewhat of an adjustment moving from a large house to a smaller apartment, Molly said she has everything she needs and loves having the built-in benefits of a social community.

“After my husband died, I was living in Lebanon all by myself in this big house, and as the fall turned into winter and the only people whom I’d see were the two coming to work on my house, I realized I needed to be somewhere with more of a community,” said Molly. “Now, at The Woodlands, my apartment is a two-bedroom with a den and two bathrooms, and I park in a heated garage. I don’t need anything more than that.”

“Another thing I love about being here is that the staff makes suggestions — they don’t make rules,” Molly added. “They treat us like adults. And the maintenance staff is so eager to help in any way, whether hanging a picture or helping to figure out how to use your TV! Today, Residents have to wear a mask if they go outside their apartment, but we’re all willing to do it for the sake of everybody. We really feel like a community here and that what we do impacts other people.”

Meet Woodlands Residents Jim and Brooke Adler

From the moment they moved in, Jim and Brooke Adler were impressed by The Woodlands, from the food, to our helpful maintenance staff, and welcoming residents – many who have since become friends. While communal living “is an adjustment after over 50 years living together on our own,” said Jim, “it was an easier one than I would have imagined.” The Woodlands is “first class,” adds Brooke. Watch the video to hear more about why the Adlers love living at The Woodlands!

Watch the Video Interview

Meet Harvest Hill Resident Gretchen Fairweather

Meet Harvest Hill Resident Gretchen Fairweather

After moving to Harvest Hill in July, independent living resident Gretchen Fairweather has only good things to say about it, from the community’s staff to the interesting residents, activity choices and delicious food, to her comfortable apartment.

“It’s a very friendly, warm environment, and there’s always a lot going on,” said Gretchen, 78. “The staff is terrific, and the food is unbelievable. I couldn’t get over it! I’ve made some good friends, and my apartment is the perfect size for me.”

According to Gretchen, she actually set her mind on moving to Harvest Hill years ago. Working in Lebanon, her daily drive by Mascoma Street took her past a large building site, which she assumed was an addition to Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital.

“I’d just drive by it and wonder what it was,” she said. “It got bigger and prettier, and then one day I just drove into the driveway and found out it was going to be a retirement community. I decided right then and there that’s where I was going to live when the time came.”

Born in Rochester, New York, Gretchen grew up in Pennsylvania and attended The University of Vermont. She started her career at a Philadelphia publishing house, and later worked at Woman’s Day Magazine in New York City. It was there she met her husband, then a student at Columbia University.

After her husband secured a job teaching at the University of Connecticut, Gretchen took a job at the Willimantic Chronicle as a newspaper reporter. She spent her later career as a station manager for radio stations in Connecticut and New Hampshire and supported her husband and their two children while he attended medical school.

“I loved the people and the personalities I encountered working in radio! You get one announcer who wants to be the next Wolfman Jack, another who wants to be the next bigshot news reporter,” said Gretchen. “It was a lot of fun and I made a lot of friends.”

After she retired from radio, she and her family opened a bed and breakfast in West Hartford, Vermont for six years. She went on to spend a lot of her time volunteering: as a trail guide at a local natural museum, in the cancer center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and at David’s House, a residence for families of children being treated there.

“It’s been a good life,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences, and I have no regrets.”

Now, at Harvest Hill, Gretchen loves to remain active and involved, just as she always has. She loves that there is always something going on, whether it’s movies, van trips, live entertainment, lectures, classes, clubs or something else. She currently belongs to a book club, attends three exercise classes a week, and likes taking advantage of the nearby hiking and biking trails.

Most of all, though, Gretchen appreciates those parts of the community you can’t see from the outside: the people who work there. They’re the ones who make Harvest Hill truly special, she said.

“The staff here are just wonderful, from the nurses to the cleaning crew, to the maintenance men, to the people who work in the office,” said Gretchen. “And I think every resident here would say the exact same thing.”

Meet Woodlands Resident Couple Rich and Carol Lammert

Meet Woodlands Resident Couple Rich and Carol Lammert

From the beautiful New England location and welcoming residents, to the breadth of activity choices, and helpful, caring staff, Rich and Carol Lammert say they are very satisfied with their decision to move to The Woodlands.

The Lammerts have been married for 56 years and lived on New Hampshire’s Mascoma Lake for the last 20. In June, their son and his family helped Rich and Carol downsize their home before moving into their new one-bedroom apartment at The Woodlands.

Moving to a beautiful place like The Woodlands was an easy transition from a gorgeous location like Mascoma Lake, said Carol, but while their new view is lovely, the best part is that it also comes with a built-in community.

“Our previous home was in the country surrounded by woods, so I found it to be isolating and didn’t really develop strong friendships,” she said. “I don’t mind being solitary, but when we came here, I realized, indeed, how isolated I had been. So, it’s been a nice change.”

“The people here are very, very welcoming,” she added. “They’ll often invite newcomers to join them in the dinner hour and people will just sit and talk, so dinner can sometimes extend over two hours.”

Rich agreed making friends at The Woodlands is quite easy, especially with so many amicable and interesting residents to talk to, adding, “There are a lot of doctors and professors and other professional people here. We’re amazed every time we meet someone how interesting their backgrounds are.”

After retiring from nursing, Carol picked up costuming for local plays and later worked as a manager for the Enfield Farmers’ Market. For fun at The Woodlands, she likes following politics, enjoying nature and taking their 11-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Cookie, out for exercise.

“Having a patio apartment is wonderful because we can just walk out with our dog whenever she needs to go out and exercise,” said Carol. “I also really like that the residents are free to do what they wish with their gardens, so since we arrived, we’ve been able to see a whole season of flowers blooming!”

Rich started his career as a pastor with the United Church of Christ. He later got into social work, then became a service technician for office equipment and even worked briefly as a part-time school bus driver! For fun at The Woodlands, he loves to ride his e-bike and recently found a riding partner to take on the local roads and trails with him.

“I joined an exercise class which is two days a week. There’s also a weekly ping pong night I participate in, and I have more activities I plan to get involved in as winter comes on,” said Rich.

Thank you, Carol and Rich, for sharing your thoughts. We’re so happy you’re here — you’re both wonderful additions to The Woodlands family!