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Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

An illustrious past meets an exceptional future. We are committed to creating meaningful lives of purposeful engagement for every resident as well as those who serve them.

Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

Posted: Saturday, April 2, 2016

Resident finds the perfect active, engaged lifestyle at retirement community

Westminster at Lake Ridge resident Lou Anne gave up her dream of becoming a doctor to get married and then worked for 50 years to put her six children through college. For most of her life, she did what other people wanted and needed her to do. It wasn’t an easy life, but now, finally, she is living life exactly as she wants. 

Lou Anne was raised in a traditional household where her mother wanted her to stay close to home. What she really wanted to do was to go to medical school. But the man she would eventually marry said he didn’t want a wife who was a doctor. Her mother didn’t even want her to go to college, but her father intervened and allowed her to enroll in Cardinal Stritch College. 

Lou Anne studied medical technology, worked hard and achieved excellent grades, graduating in 1950. She was furious when, after passing a national exam and spending a year in training, she got a job offer with a ridiculously low salary. She refused, and told a former professor about it. A few days later, the professor asked her to create and run a lab at a small hospital outside Milwaukee. The pay was twice her earlier job offer. She accepted. 

After a few years, Lou Anne left the lab to marry the man she had met in 1948, and gave a friend from college her position as director of the lab. Lou Anne  and her husband had six children in eight years. But the marriage crumbled, and Lou Anne was left to support herself and her family. She returned to school and earned a master’s degree in psychiatric social work, while raising the kids. After finishing her degree, Lou Anne went to work at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee, where she created a social work department. She met her second husband there, and remained in her job for 20 years. 

After they both retired, the couple moved to Florida and then to Tucson, Arizona, where, after a few years, her husband passed away. 

“I lived in a big, beautiful house in a gated community, with everything you could possibly want, and was president of the community,” Lou Anne says. She never considered living in a continuing care retirement community. Then, a couple of years ago, while visiting her son in Virginia, she was introduced to a whole different way of life. 

“I was packing my bag to go back to Tucson, and my son said he wanted to show me something. He took me to Westminster at Lake Ridge. Within 10 minutes, I said, ‘Where do I sign?’ ” 

Lou Anne was impressed with the cleanliness of the community and the myriad of opportunities to keep active, fit and healthy, continue learning, make friends, be entertained and generally live a worry-free life. She discovered that at Westminster at Lake Ridge, she could do as much or as little as she wished. 

She moved into a beautiful apartment with two bedrooms, one of which she uses as a study, filled with her books and paper work. Each morning, she goes to the gym for a workout, followed by a lovely 45-minute walk down to the community’s gazebo and back. 

“After that, I’m ready for anything,” she says. 

She loves to read in the well-stocked library, play bridge, hear speakers and enjoy the wonderfully prepared food in the community’s restaurant. It’s easy for her to keep up with family, as her son lives just 10 minutes away. 

“You have all the warmth you want in your apartment,” Lou Anne says. “Everything is beautifully done. If you have a complaint or problem, they’ll take care of it immediately. You have no worries.” 

Lou Anne’s remarkable life was the subject of a recent profile in a special issue of the Stritch Magazine that focused on generational perspectives in women’s issues. Looking back on her life in an article titled “Not a trailblazer, she says, but a breadwinner,” Lou Anne said she is proudest of her children and their achievements, and that she did not stop them from pursuing their own pathways. While many people would consider Lou Anne’s sacrifices groundbreaking, she is matter-of-fact about her accomplishments. 

 “I wasn’t trying to solve the problems of the world,” she says. “Since I was alone with six kids, I wanted those kids to get a college education like I did. I fought for that because my mother didn’t want me to go.” 

After so many years with so much responsibility on her shoulders, “I just feel like I need to relax and enjoy life,” Lou Anne says. At Westminster at Lake Ridge, she’s found the perfect place to do just that. 

“My children are continuously surprised at how happy and contented I am here,” she says.

Westminster at Lake Ridge: A Family Culture that Extends Beyond its Residents





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