By Richard Mundy
For Hometown News
Four people became residents of Bishop's Glen, a retirement community at 900 LPGA Blvd. in Holly Hill.
At "The Glen" they met each other and now are providing each other with companionship as two couples.
One of the couples is Phyllis Hunsinger and Jim Sloan.
Mr. Sloan is a retired engineer and Ms. Hunsinger had been a stay-at-home Mom until she was 40 when she "finished her college education and became a teacher. My children were grown." She retired after 15 years as a teacher and school librarian.
Ms. Hunsinger said she lost her husband and had developed macular degeneration, causing her to lose vision. "My reluctance was coming to a place where I didn't know anybody ... among strangers ... and I'm still looking for the strangers. When I got here everybody was just so helpful, so friendly."
Mr. Sloan said, "We had lived in Ormond Beach for about 35 years and we knew about Bishop's Glen over the years. It had a very good reputation. In the beginning there was a waiting list of about two or three years to get in." He said his wife's health began to fail around that time and his two sons were worried about them being in their home. After looking at several other places, "we agreed that this was it."
They lived at the Glen about three years when his wife passed away about 15 months ago, and he decided to stay there.
He said that as far as loneliness goes, the people who live here are accomplished people, and interesting to talk to, but he gave the impression that there was still something missing as far as the loneliness went.
Mr. Sloan said another factor in his decision to live there was "the Christian atmosphere. It's a non-profit, and I'm on the chapel committee. I don't believe there's a better place to be than here at Bishop's Glen. They have several of these and they've worked out all the problems."
"And I can definitely agree with that", said Ms. Hunsinger. "Maintenance -- they're right here if you have any problem at all, even to change a light bulb ... they're here. I wouldn't want to live any other place."
After losing his wife Mr. Sloan had a significant period of grieving and bereavement, and coming out of it was the loneliness. He said, "As the Lord would have it, He was gracious enough to ... we just came together. I had no intention ... I didn't pursue her ... we have so much in common it's just incredible." As he said these words one could see the smile on his face and the glow on hers. He continued with "Loneliness is a big, big factor ... a hard thing to live with."
Ms. Hunsinger rescued Mr. Sloan by saying, "We enjoy each other's company; it helps." As to how they met, Ms. Hunsinger said, "I did know his wife, and she and I were friends, and when she passed away, I sent Jim a sympathy card and then we started going to dinner together." And Mr. Sloan added, "and after a while ... I thought that she was kind of special." And the rest, as they say, is history.
The other couple is Louise Cooke, a vivacious redhead, former FBI employee, and Dr. Charles Fain, an ex-military and retired pediatric dentist after 42 years.
Dr. Fain noted some of the details of Bishop's Glen, including that it has four levels of residency: Independent Living, Assisted, Nursing and Skilled Care, and a total of 245 beds. It has 17 buildings over 25 acres.
They're both 90 years old.
Ms. Cooke worked for the FBI straight out of high school for three years, had her first child, and after her daughter started school she went back to work as a substitute teacher. She also had a son.
Dr. Sloan was in the U.S. Navy during World War II and later, the Reserves. He was called back during the Korean War to Inchon under General "Chesty" Puller, the most decorated combat Marine in U.S. history. He nonchalantly mentioned he had "a couple of Bronze Star medals from Chesty."
Dr. Fain had an active career and been on many boards and community activities and charities. His wife had been a Navy nurse on board a hospital ship. They had one daughter, and moved into Bishop's Glen about seven years ago and his wife, Gail, passed away about a year and a half ago.
Ms. Cooke met her husband in study hall in Eastern High School in Washington D.C. He ended up with Robert McNamara (Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson) in the Department of Defense. He passed away about 10 years ago.
Ms. Cooke brought her husband to The Glen for social events, and that's how she became familiar with the place. They moved in when her husband contracted Parkinson's disease and she became his "special" caregiver. "He wouldn't let anybody else take care of him. The doctors told me when we moved in to keep busy. And that's what I tried to do. And I loved it here," Ms. Cooke said.
Dr. Fain's experience was similar. He and his wife (of 60 years) decided that if something happened to either one of them they had better be prepared. They spent weekends at seven different living situations and "(Bishop's Glen) was so much ahead of anything else we saw ... so we decided we better move while we both were in reasonably good health. It was a real plus for us here."
He said he knew who Ms. Cooke was, but they really didn't get together until about a year ago, and "Cookie and I like to dance," he said.
They both were and are involved in the "Granny" program that pairs up residents with young children who spend a day with them every couple of months. She has a "wonderful little girl" and he has "a wonderful little boy." They have lunch and play some games and do challenges and quizzes and basically are a grandparent for a day.
They gradually did more and more things together and because of the many things they had in common they just naturally began to become closer.
Much like Mr. Sloan, Dr. Fain said it wasn't so much a "giving up" of activities and hobbies before moving in, but substituting what they used to do with what is available at The Glen. "It's like a cruise ship," Dr. Fain said. "There's so much available and you can do what you like, or if you don't choose to be involved, you don't have to."