Having been a part of developing this cohousing community, various members share their thinking about creating this special option for seniors in our community.
Although I was born in Fresno, California, I was raised in the high mountains of California where my father worked for a hydroelectric company. It was a wonderful way to grow up surrounded by nature in very small towns where we knew everyone. We snow skied all winter and water skied all summer.
I have three adult children, and four grandchildren. My oldest son Jesse and his wife live in southern California with my 11-year-old granddaughter and one adult grandson who lives in Santa Barbara. My son Jeremy lives on his sailboat in the Bahamas where he runs charter excursions, and my daughter Jennifer and her two sons live in Kona Hawaii. I also have two sisters in Portland, Oregon, and one in Challis, Idaho.
For a time, I had employee family benefits with United Airlines and Royal Caribbean Cruises, so I traveled as extensively as possible with free airfare and really cheap cruises. I love solo travel, and have been incredibly fortunate to visit many places throughout the world.
I first became interested in Cohousing when I took the weeklong Study Group One course in 2014 with Architect Chuck Durrett in Nevada City, California. It was there that I first heard of Oakcreek Community, as Chuck always spoke so positively about this community among the many that he designed.
Throughout the years I visited many Cohousing developments wherever I traveled, but I was still working as a dental hygienist in Hawaii, where I lived on the Big Island for 24 years. I retired in December 2021, and was thrilled to be able to move to Oakcreek Community in January 2022. I like to say I traded good weather for community!
I really enjoy our Common Meals every five nights, and love to participate on cook teams. It's great having so many interesting neighbors as well as the time and close proximity to get together frequently for planned and spontaneous gatherings. I have found Stillwater in general and Oakcreek Community in particular to be a wonderful fit, and look forward to many years ahead in this active and supportive community!
Miriam and Tom
Miriam: Tom and I learned about Oakcreek through our daughter, Magdalena, who lives in Stillwater. And when we found out that we were going to become grandparents, Oakcreek and Stillwater seemed the most wonderful option. We had been planning already to leave our home of 32 years in Tulsa and find something smaller and more accessible for Tom. So we downsized, sold the house and moved to an apartment in Stillwater. After about a year, a unit at Oakcreek became available. We bought it and have been so happy living here.
I was raised in Oklahoma and Texas. My first job after I graduated from college was as a librarian in Florence, South Carolina, where I met Tom. We moved to Austin, TX where Tom attended graduate school and I worked for the University of Texas as a computer programmer. Both our children were born in Austin during the 10 years that we lived there. When Tom graduated, he took a job in Tulsa. My brother and his family and my parents both lived in Tulsa, so we were eager to be nearer family.
I am an avid gardener and am interested in native plants, permaculture, and wildlife habitats. The meadow at Oakcreek is a delight to me, as I watch it change and grow throughout the year. I thought I would be sad to leave my gardens in Tulsa, but the gardening I can do at Oakcreek is just the right amount for me now. And I enjoy working with other Oakcreek members to plan and implement garden projects.
I’ve had multiple careers during my lifetime – librarian, computer programmer, and retail sales. At 50, I went back to school to study culinary arts and worked in food service until my retirement. I had always been interested in fiber arts and set up a small fiber business after retirement. Every year I attend a few craft shows to sell my creations of wearable art and home decor. Weaving and wet felting are my most recent fiber passions. I teach felting classes at Prairie Arts Center in Stillwater and have had some of my felted pieces in exhibitions at Modella Gallery in Stillwater and at Fiberworks (the juried show that Fiber Artists of Oklahoma sponsors every year). I also love to travel. Not surprisingly, my travels have featured cooking classes and fiber arts – weaving in Peru, felting in Hungary, and woven rugs in Morocco.
Tom: Back in 1988 I got a full-time job (with insurance and all that good stuff) in Tulsa. After we moved there, I used to joke about our house, saying that the only way they’d get me to move out would be to carry me out feet-first. We lived there 30 years, but lately I’ve had to modify my sentiments as I came to the realization that negotiating two floors plus a basement was no longer practical for me. Our daughter has been living in Stillwater for several years, and we had already been introduced to the Oakcreek community. The surroundings and the members both seemed to invite us, and when an opening came up we moved in.
Going from 2200 square feet to 700 square feet was downsizing on steroids, but we managed it. It helped that a lot of my books had already moved to our intended summer place in New Hampshire. (Of course we hadn’t planned on not getting there for a year, but that’s the way life is sometimes.) We managed to meet people in spite of the masks and the distance, and started to adjust. After Oakcreek began having common meals again, it really started to feel like home.
One feature of Oakcreek that I didn’t really notice at first was the way the units are grouped into pods. Seeing the same small group of people every day has made it easier for me to get to know them. (There were 23 people in my high school graduating class, if that has anything to do with it.) Taking on common tasks as a group means a lot to me, even though I sometimes feel as though I can’t contribute very much. I personally find it easier to fit in with a group if we are working on something together.
In September of 2018, I made the wonderful discovery of Oakcreek, a co-housing community. Having made the decision to retire from a community college in Miami, OK, after 21 years teaching; the question then became “what’s next?” I loved my friends and many activities in Miami but I wanted to live closer to my daughter and her family plus I wanted to live in Oakcreek. Having moved many times in my life (Texas, Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, Kansas, and Oklahoma) I had a built-in way to meet people such as a job. But not this time.
What a breath of fresh air to find Oakcreek, and, more importantly, the great people who live here. They quickly welcomed me to any and all activities. They also treat my grandsons like part of their families. I particularly enjoy the informal times we have to work together on a project or over dinner. I would never have dreamed I would have 31 friends, so many opportunities to learn new things, and feel so at home on these 7+ acres in the heart of Stillwater, OK.
I lived in New York City all my life. After my husband died, I sold the house and moved to Oakcreek to be near my daughter Melissa. Oakcreek is a great community. The people are gracious, warm and friendly. The McKnight Center is wonderful for music and Prairie Arts Center offers art classes, and both are nearby.
Tracy and Mark
Mark is a real estate appraiser, and I am a retired middle school language arts teacher. I have lived in Stillwater all my life, and though Mark was born here while his parents were attending Oklahoma A&M, he grew up in Oklahoma City. He returned to Stillwater to attend OSU in 1973. We were introduced by my aunt who worked with Mark. Aunt Linda checked him out for a year before introducing us. We have now been married for 38 years.
Mark and I have raised two children in Stillwater. Our children’s activities starting with T-ball and youth basketball were a place where we started making new friends. Don’t tell my kids, but I spent more time talking to other parents while Mark coached their teams, than watching the action on the field. Sports are not my thing.
Scouts, however, caused me to get off the sidelines and into the action, assisting our daughter’s Girl Scout leader with cookie sales, sleep overs, and service projects while Mark was an assistant scoutmaster for our son’s Boy Scout troop. We really got to know and depend on these new friends when we left our cars at the trailhead and set off on foot to destinations unknown somewhere down the trail. Relationships take time to develop and there is plenty of time for that while hiking down the trail. Both the leaders and scouts learned lessons in interdependence while promoting the success of all members of the crew.
Living at Oakcreek mirrors interactions we have enjoyed in Scouting. We will have time now with our new neighbors to allow relationships to develop as we work on projects, share meals together, and learn more about each other.
When our daughter learned we were moving to a senior co-housing development, she pointed out that Mark and I have always thrived in community. Now we are a part of a new community at Oakcreek.
Chuck & Ronda
In early 2018 we moved from New Mexico to Oakcreek, having tracked its progress since 2012 when we first visited. We’re finding the community to be extremely helpful and interesting, with members from a variety of backgrounds, who are willing to contribute their knowledge and skills to keep the neighborhood running smoothly.
As the birthdays pass, we’ve admitted that long term we’ll want to live in a ‘village’ where assistance will be close by if needed, and where we can assist others. Cohousing seems to fit the bill, and Oakcreek is near our Tulsa daughter and family.
With kids, grandkids, and extended family located from CA to NC, we wanted to be free to travel when we’d like – without the demands of a large house and yard – while still enjoying a great outdoor setting, where we can perform gardening and landscape activities along with neighbors. There’s been no shortage of fun (and work), with participation in game and movie parties, University presentations, regular group dinners and coffees, and discussions of some off-the-wall subjects!
For the past five years we lived in Santa Fe and Los Alamos, NM – enjoying retirement and grandkids. Prior to that we had lived in Tulsa, Honolulu, the Los Angeles area, Sacramento, and Boston.
Chuck’s early years were spent in the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello, and Ronda grew up in Pryor, OK. We met in college and married in northern California in the rambunctious ‘60’s.
Chuck studied at Pepperdine University, worked for Schick in LA and Shell Oil in Tulsa, was a radio DJ in Honolulu and Tulsa, and founded AyerPlay Productions (a Tulsa recording studio and marketing company). For over 20 years, he travelled with guide dogs, due to RP.
Ronda graduated at Simmons GSM in Boston and enjoyed a career in business, including State of CA, IBM, American Airlines, co-founding and operating AyerPlay Productions, and finally managing an IT department at Williams in Tulsa.
Chuck uses adaptive technology (computer, screen reader, iPhone, etc.) to keep up to date on many newspapers, magazines, books, and facebook. He also is a master baker, and enjoys talking with anyone. He was a runner in the past, but now sticks to walking.
Ronda enjoys traveling, biking, hiking, and (fanatical) Pickleball!!
Our very favorite activities, though, are doing ANYTHING with our 4 grandkids and/or their parents, our daughters and sons-in-law.
I was born in California and lived and worked there all of my life. I attended Mt. St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles and worked in several fields of nursing during my career. After I retired I was not happy with the isolated lifestyle and lack of community in the neighborhoods where I lived. I much prefer the interdependence and opportunities for interaction in our Oakcreek community, as well as the challenges that come with self-governance.
My adult son is in California and he is getting an education on my life as a community member as he comes to Oklahoma to visit.
I love my little home and life here at Oakcreek; beautiful flowers and open space, great neighbors and all of the many entertainment and cultural opportunities in a college town.
The community of small farms where I grew up in my early years had many of the same characteristics as Oakcreek Community. People knew and cared about each other, helped each other, worked together on big and small projects and had fun together. The setting with a pond, creek, and river on my family’s part of the community seemed like paradise to me. (Oakcreek’s 7+ acres has a creek on its west side.) When I was a teenager, my mom, dad, sister and I moved to a farm in another state where the farmsteads were more than a mile apart. I missed the comfort that comes with having close neighbors.
I went to college in Minnesota, taught elementary children for several years in Catonsville, Maryland, moved to Tucson to attend the university there, and began my longer career as a children’s librarian. In Stillwater, I worked at OSU Library and retired in 2008. About a year later, when I really wasn’t looking for a different place or way to live, I attended the first public meeting about cohousing in Stillwater. I hadn’t heard the term, passed it by at the time, and didn’t follow up until several months later when I was invited to a smaller get-together of people who had “signed-on.” Everyone was positive about the concept, and at some point at that event, maybe the memory of my childhood paradise was awakened, so I joined the group that day.
It’s been almost 5 years since we moved in. Every day I’m amazed that 24 households of people have learned to put into practice the good things about living with neighbors close by, working together to accomplish something big or little, and being so grateful about it all. It’s a very good thing to recapture something wonderful from one’s childhood, and this is it!
I moved to Oakcreek with the anticipation of having neighbors that I would grow to know and enjoy and that has happened. I like walking to my home, knowing who lives in each home and knowing that I might enjoy a conversation with one or more as I pass by. It is nice coming out my door and knowing I can easily check-in with a neighbor. Even nicer is knowing my neighbors. We are a diverse group with much to appreciate about each other.
In my last year of college, I lived in an experimental co-ed dorm, where a group of 24 shared a four-plex apartment building, using the living rooms in the men’s apartments as a shared living room and the kitchens in the women’s apartments as shared kitchens. We became a cohesive group of 24 instead of four sub-sets. I like to think of Oakcreek as a similar experience with a lot more personal space and no term papers. Not everyone likes to watch sports or play games as much as I do and I don’t run or bike as much as some, but there is something that I enjoy about each and every person here. In addition, there are wonderful pets my neighbors share with me. There are lots of smiles, welcomes and wagging tails each day as we move about our day in the presence of our neighbors. AND we share common meals about every 5 days. I enjoy taking my turn to cook those meals and I enjoy sitting down with my neighbors for good food and good company. Plus, there is the benefit of not having to cook when it is not my turn to serve as cook!
An unexpected pleasure of living at Oakcreek is the process of managing our community affairs together instead of having some distant or not-so-distant management company manage us. We have learned how to make decisions consensually. We have learned how to operate teams to get our work done. The best part is that when we get together as a group to work on a situation and when we use our best practices, we get to solutions and practices that we would not have gotten to without all of our input. That is another benefit of the community that we have created and continue to create as we share this beautiful space that is Oakcreek.
Living at Oakcreek can be a move toward a good quality of life. The opportunity to interact with others is available. Group meals provide for healthy eating and getting acquainted. Through team work the residents keep an attractive and well maintained community. There is “built in” motivation to keep alert, stay healthy and be active.
There is wisdom, ability and experience within the community. A “helping hand” can be extended when one needs it. The surprise is the diligence of the Oakcreek members to resolve problems that may arise. Group members functioning in harmony is a priority. This is a place where people have some insight and understanding for a good quality of life while aging.
Karen and Ulrich
Ulrich: Born in London, England, Ulrich Melcher grew up in New York City and Westport, Connecticut. Ulrich obtained a BS from the University of Chicago, and PhD from Michigan State University, both in Biochemistry. During his studies he met and later married Karen Joy Sandstedt. He was a NATO postdoctoral scientist in bacterial genetics at Aarhus University’s Molecular Biology Laboratory in Denmark, where daughter Sonya was born, and then in molecular immunology at New York University and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Second daughter, Katherine, was born in Dallas. Ulrich obtained a faculty position at OSU in 1975 and has lived in Stillwater except for a sabbatical period in Strasbourg, France on a Fulbright fellowship. Currently, Ulrich is R.J. Sirny Professor of Agricultural Biochemistry in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Adjunct Professor in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.
Karen: A native Nebraskan, I left there after graduating from the University of Nebraska to attend graduate school at Purdue University. After getting an MS in Biochemistry I took a job as a technician at the Plant Research Lab at Michigan State where I met Ulrich. From Michigan we moved to Aarhus Denmark where our daughter Sonya was born. We then lived for a short time in New York City before moving to Dallas. Our second daughter Katherine was born there. We left Dallas for Stillwater and have lived here for over 38 years.
I worked making media, setting up labs, and doing various other tasks in Veterinary Medicine before retiring. As a retiree and before, I have been active in the League of Women Voters, most recently a co-president of the state League. Until we moved I also tutored international women in English as a second language and am looking forward to again having time to work with and become friends with more of Stillwater’s international community.
After growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania and attending Bucknell University, I went west for a doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley. Short stints at Carnegie Mellon University, Northwestern University in Evanston and Louisiana State University preceded my 35 year career in the Mathematics Department at Oklahoma State University. I retired in 2007. While I am quite proud of this career in research, education and teaching, I have moved on and this is no longer me.
After tenure, excessive focus on career, a failed marriage, and counseling, my orientation toward life slowly evolved toward a better balance between work, personal relationships and spiritual growth.
I enjoy adventures with my two granddaughters who live here in Stillwater, piddling around in my workshop, carpentry, volunteering (AARP tax-aide and Habitat), drinking coffee, traveling, reading, meditation, nature, and hanging out with friends. I am getting better at being content when I am accomplishing nothing.
Fear of moving, sizing down and selling my house of 38 years was the last obstacle to committing to OakCreek. This is stressful and no fun at all; however, it is something that I needed to do. I am surprised that after just six weeks I feel that I belong here. The OakCreek Community is a promising new chapter in my Odyssey through life.
Bob and Marcia
We are transplanted east coast people. Bob grew up in Queens, NY and Marcia in Wilmington, DE. Bob is a physicist, who went to Cooper Union in New York City as an undergraduate and got his PhD from Princeton. Marcia went to Antioch College in Ohio, where the concept of community was popular. She majored in psychology and went to Princeton to work in a project involving visual learning with babies. Guess where she met Bob. The first time Marcia had him over for dinner, when he said he wasn’t feeling well, she fed him shrimp fried rice and took him to a folk dance. Even with that start, the marriage has lasted over 50 years.
After several years in Princeton, we moved to London, Ontario, Canada, where Bob worked as a postdoc and Marcia as a hospital technician taking cardiograms. While we were in Canada, we both became interested in running and bicycling. Bob ran marathons and began to measure road running courses. He also became interested in the metric system, which Canada was adopting at the time. One interesting event during our Canadian days was the Skylon International Marathon. The route went from the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, NY to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Bob ran the marathon and Marcia rode her bicycle as a marshal who helped runners in need of coats, Vaseline or other roadside assistance.
We moved to Ponca City, OK when Bob got a job at Conoco, writing computer programs to crunch data for oil exploration. He worked there for 22 years, until Conoco’s merger with Phillips. Marcia worked as a lab tech at Conoco for 12 years. When she was riffed, she returned to school and got a masters in Speech-Language Pathology. Marcia worked in the Ponca City Public Schools for 10 years.
Running and measuring race courses continued to be important for Bob. He ran marathons in Ponca City and Fort Worth and was part of teams that measured the marathon courses for the Los Angeles (1984) and Atlanta (1996) Olympics. Bob helped set up the system that is used internationally now for certifying the accuracy of road race courses, and for many years, he served as the Oklahoma course certifier (as one result, Oklahoma has more race courses that are marked throughout in metric distances than any other U.S. state).
Marcia continued to ride her bicycle to work, but also took up other activities, such as participating in a group which helped to move Ponca City to set up a recycling center. She became a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Stillwater, where she served as treasurer for several years. Other interests include cooking, baking, sewing, making dangly earrings, and making unusual pots for plants.
Bob retired from ConocoPhillips in 2003. Currently, he spends much of his time as webmaster for the United Ostomy Associations of America and as president of the Ostomy Association of North Central Oklahoma, which held support meetings in Stillwater and Ponca City although currently holds its meetings by Zoom.
We are interested in community and looking forward to starting a new phase of life at Oakcreek.
Nelda and Doug
‘Community’ is the important part of Cohousing for me. I like the idea of a group of people you get to really know, interact with on a daily basis, work with, eat with, and develop a mutual caring relationship with. My wife and I have little prospect of family taking an active interest in our welfare as we get older. Social interaction is a natural part of the co-housing concept, and I like that. There should always be people around to notice if we are having a problem, and conversely, for us to become involved with, care about, and make sure they get care if they need it.
Plus, being able to have a nice small house with neighbors you actually know close by, to have a nice yard without having to struggle alone to keep it that way, and being able to take off on a trip and know that things will still be OK when you get back—these things I think are almost beyond value.
Nelda: The small farming community of Coon Creek, Texas in which I was born wasn't even on the map, nor did it have a post office. I spent the first eight years of my life in this pastoral community where I had to ride 16 miles, one-way, to school. My family then moved into Clifton, Tx. where we lived for three years before moving to Ft. Worth.
I graduated from Handley High School and went one semester to Arlington Jr. College, now the University of Texas at Arlington, before taking training as an x-ray technician at Harris Memorial Hospital in Ft. Worth. Upon graduation from this, I married my first husband and we moved to Logan, Utah where I worked at the L.D.S. Hospital for 2 years and 9 months while he finished his bachelor's degree. The next several years of following his schooling and career took me to x-ray technician jobs on the east and west coasts of the U.S. (Connecticut and California) and the north and south borders (Minnesota and Mississippi). We also lived in Guatemala for 4 1/2 months. Although I have had several "smatterings" of college, the only degree I have is a PHT (Put Hubby Through) from Utah State Univ. We had two daughters, one of whom is currently in Germany and the other lives in Seattle. In 1977, we moved to Stillwater. In 1983 our marriage ended.
November of 1987 was a big month for me. I began work at OSU Vet. Med. School in the media lab on Nov. 1 and on Nov. 27 was married to Doug Sander. I retired from OSU in 2001 and have since worked part-time as a care giver, both paid and for family.
Doug and I have taken several camping vacations, mostly in the western states, and have traveled once to Germany to visit my daughter Carmela. I would hope we can do that again sometime.
Doug is more 'gung-ho' for all this community living than I am, but there are many interesting and nice people in Oakcreek and I'm sure I'll warm up to the idea after we're settled in.
Margaret and Sidney
Cohousing was new to us when we heard such a community was under development in Stillwater. The concept appealed to us immediately. We knew it was time to think about longer-term living arrangements because we have relatives but none close to Stillwater where we want to live for as long as possible.
It has been striking, as well as gratifying, to find that among 24 households we have a wide diversity of skills useful in having a successful community. It takes a lot of work to make Oakcreek operate smoothly, and the variety of abilities among residents is as welcome as it is surprising.
We’ve lived together at Oakcreek for 3 years now. It’s been wonderful to become friends with people who were previously just acquaintances. Likewise, meeting new people who are now neighbors has enriched our lives. We look forward to the time when Oakcreek can be at ease with our process of reaching consensus. It is a learning process for both of us and that’s good as we move into Sidney’s ninth decade and Margaret’s run-up to eighty.
Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of Oakcreek for us, however, is the ease with which spur-of-the-moment interactions can develop. Common meals are wonderful occasions to sit down and talk with Oakcreek folks we do not see every day. It’s great, also, to have good meals now-and-then that we did not have to cook.
We enjoy the varieties of people who are our good neighbors who keep an eye out for each other here in the midst of the trees by the creek.
I am really happy to our join the Oakcreek Community. I have been a phlebotomist for 50 years at Freeman Neosho Hospital, in Neosho Missouri. I'm planning to continue working part-time until my new “digs” are completed at Oakcreek. I have lived in Neosho since I was 9 years old, but regularly visit relatives in Oklahoma so I am familiar with the state.
I'm really excited about this new venture in my life as I will be able to be closer to my family, especially my sister, Kay Stewart who has been very instrumental in forming Oakcreek. My daughter and son-in-law live in Edmond, my youngest grandson lives in Norman and my oldest grandson and his soon to be wife live in Ponca City. I enjoy gardening and yard work as well as raising African violets. As you can see by the above picture, I also have a “very special friend” in my life and his name is Casey!
I was the oldest of six children raised in a great family in the suburbs of St. Louis. After a couple of years in Denver (Regis University) and a couple more in Kansas City (University of Missouri-Kansas City), I found my way to Oklahoma where I met my husband, raised four children and grew deep roots in Stillwater. I have had the lucky privilege to enjoy careers as a teacher, a dental hygienist, a parish religious education director, a “mature” student and a licensed psychologist. I love Stillwater and have enjoyed giving back to the community as a school board member, a city councilor and a board member for GRAND Mental Health.
My husband died in 1994 and my kids have moved to all corners of the country…and produced my 12 beautiful grandchildren…Oakcreek is the best place in the world for me. I have good (actually great) neighbors, a carefully designed home which is right-sized, sustainable and quiet and lots of room to roam on the property. Oakcreek offers a balance of respect for privacy with an active (planned and spontaneous) social culture that is just really hard to beat.
Living in a cohousing community is working very well for me. I have retired from an active life as a professor and then a business owner. I now live in a home that is sized to hold everything I need, with a community of interesting people who share the important values that give meaning to my life. As I share my talents and others share theirs in community work teams, we generate a quality of life that is quite superior to what any of us could do alone. I am challenged to keep growing as a person as the community collectively works our way through the process of decision making – seeking, and eventually finding, what is best for ALL of us.
And then there is the fun of sharing stories over coffee, a glass of wine or dinner, movie nights, exercising, carpooling to events/concerts or interesting day-trips. When I get a spontaneous urge to do something, there is usually someone willing to go along – even at the last minute. This activity is balanced by all the privacy I want in my own home or out on my back deck while knowing that there are people all around me who will come to help me when I need it. Oakcreek is surely where I want to be!
I grew up on a dairy farm in Kansas, the oldest of six children. I became a nurse and worked in Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma and then specialized in gerontological nursing, working in nursing homes and home health. Completing a unit of clinical pastoral education led to working as a hospital chaplain for two years. Aging and spirituality have been the focus for most of my professional and personal life. The opportunity to work in a refugee camp in Thailand during the Cambodian crisis exposed me to the joys of traveling internationally. For 13 years I participated as a nurse in an annual medical mission trip to Guatemala. I am an experienced Spiritual Director and lead a retreat group in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. My most recent nursing experience was as a Faith Community Nurse helping congregants navigate the health care system, instructing on health issues and behaviors, integrating faith and health and advocating for health. These experiences have led me to the conviction of the importance and value of community and spirituality during the senior years. Although I have lived solitarily most of my life, I enjoy sharing privacy and community in senior cohousing.
Is the life I’m living the same as the life that wants to live within me?
Pat and Steve
Pat: My formative years were spent in Niagara Falls New York. I attended Cornell University and graduate school at Syracuse.
I have lived most of my adult life in Stillwater and we raised our children here. My teaching career spanned all ages of learners culminating in Early Childhood majors at Oklahoma State University.
After ten years of living in Oakcreek community I still continue to be thankful for the opportunity to live in an environment that emphasizes shared responsibility in caring for our property and each other. My interest and strengths in contributing to the community include outdoor work and preparing meals that nourish our bodies and community spirit. I continue to learn from the residents, especially from some of our newest members who bring new skills and interests to share with us.
OLLI courses keep me intellectually active and involved with others with whom I may not usually come in contact. I find the extra time that I now have from taking care of a larger home can be devoted to reading and pursuit of my life time interests in tennis and swimming. I also enjoy traveling with “my Geographer” who plans great trips. I enjoy my time with our children and grandchildren who attempt to keep me up with modern life
Steve: I was born and raised in upstate New York (Walton) and graduated from Cornell & Syracuse.
I started as a math teacher, then taught geography at Eastern Washington Univ and Oklahoma State.
Our daughter Ann lives in Edinburgh and helps design museum displays and visitor centers in Scotland and Ireland. Our son David is a fiddler and baker on Ocracoke Island, NC. We have 2 grandsons in Scotland and one in NC.
When we moved in, 10 years ago, Oakcreek was fully occupied. I naively thought “Well, that’s done.” WRONG!! I’ve learned Cohousing is never done; it’s a work in progress. Life changes bring new challenges and opportunities. It’s hard to lose old friends, but new people bring fresh ideas and experiences. It’s impossible to become bored and lonely here – the major benefit of cohousing.
Our common meals every five days are definitely one of my favorite things that binds us together. Not only is the food great but the variety of conversations during meals is very interesting.
We are a community of friends who enjoy each other, share activities, are aware of others’ needs, help each other, and respect our needs for privacy.
I moved to Oakcreek Cohousing because I liked the stated values and criteria for aging in place. There have been a number of unexpected joys and events since moving here.
Having residents’ grandchildren visit and play in the community has added much enjoyment and pleasure for me to watch. I enjoy the interactions with the members of the community, especially visiting over coffee and happy hour.
I especially enjoy having residents drop in for a visit and often share a cup of coffee or tea. I look forward to special events when most of the residents get involved in the holiday activities.
The birds that come to the feeders and are in the trees in the community are a joy to see and hear. I get great pleasure in observing the wooded area and the owls that come to the west of my house.
Oakcreek Community has been very important to me since my retirement twelve years ago from the university. Since I have no family in Oklahoma, my neighbors have become good friends and our intentional neighborhood “feels” like family. I find great pleasure in preparing and serving meals for this family, and I like to stretch my creative side by planning theme-oriented dinners such as Zucchini Fest, Hobo Dinner, Route 66 Diner Dinner, and others.
I consider myself a detail-oriented person with self-taught organizational skills that help me to serve effectively on both the Common House Team and the Well-being Team. I even enjoy writing reports and “first drafts” of various Community agreements. (I guess that kind of work reminds me of my 40 years as a teacher/professor!) Staying active in these ways, surrounded by others who are also active participants in life at Oakcreek, keeps me feeling younger than I would feel were I living alone.
Feb 16, 1927 - Sept 7, 2018
On Friday morning, September 7th, Dorothy Marie Putnam peacefully transitioned in her own home at the Oakcreek Community. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM Thursday, September 13th at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Stillwater, with a reception following at Oakcreek Community Common House,1806 N. Husband, Stillwater.
Dorothy was born to Stella and Aubrey York on February 16, 1927 in Kellyville, OK. At the age of ten, Dorothy along with her sister, Marie, and two brothers, John and Leo, lost both parents. Dorothy, Marie and John went to live at the Charles Page Children’s Home in Sand Springs. She felt blessed to have been given the opportunity to grow in such a caring, supportive environment.
After graduating from Sand Springs High School she attended Oklahoma College for Women. Dorothy married Jesse Robert Putnam, an electrical engineering student at OSU, and was married from 1949 until 1996 when he passed away from cancer. Jesse was an engineer with GE and they moved all over the country adding four daughters to the family. Dorothy and Jesse lived in Schenectady, NY when oldest daughter, Linda, was born. Then on to Sherman, Texas where two more daughters were born, Jessica and Georgia. From there they lived in St. Louis, MO and Alamogordo, NM then to Midwest City, OK where youngest daughter Roberta was born.
When Jesse retired from GE, they moved to a farm of 140 acres between Wellston and Harrah, OK. After Jesse passed, she remained on the farm and was remarried for eleven years to John Thompson.
She had a simple and deep faith and expressed it through her work and by always treating everyone kindly. She loved to laugh and share joy with her family and friends. She was always friendly—a smile on her face, a kind word for everyone she met.
Dorothy enjoyed serving others and taking care of their needs. She also excelled at cooking and flourished at homemaking. Neighbors and friends would ask Dorothy to cater gatherings for them, leading to a small business by word-of-mouth. She was in charge of the kitchen at the First Presbyterian Church of Oklahoma City for several years. Later, she was an in-home Health Care Provider for the Department of Human Services and cared for a next-door neighbor for three years. She then managed the household of an elderly gentleman for nine years in Oklahoma City.
In the fall of 2012 Dorothy joined Oakcreek Community. She treasured her friends, neighbors and the community they built together. Her job for the community was to sweep the leaves from the porch of the Common House. She was so passionate about her contribution that her Oakcreek family honored her with a golden broom for her 90th birthday. As her health declined, she figured out how to balance on her walker and use the broom at the same time. In fact, she swept the Common House porch on her last day.
Dorothy will be missed by many. She never met a stranger. Her sunny disposition and ability to laugh at life’s twists and turns were constant. To know her was to know that goodness was real in this world. She never met a weed she wouldn’t pull or a leaf she wouldn’t sweep up. Always young at heart, she treasured time with her great-grandchildren: Ethan, Emmett, Jacob, Jasper and June. Friends, family and neighbors will miss her tasty cherry pies, homemade rolls, and pecan bars.
Dorothy is survived by her daughter Linda Putnam of Stillwater and two granddaughters, Megan Peabody of Napa, CA and husband Brian, great-grandsons Ethan and Emmett; and Ginny McCollom of Stillwater and husband Jimmy Stapp, great-grandsons Jacob and Jasper, and great-granddaughter June; daughter Jessica Putnam of Seattle, WA; daughter Georgia Putnam of the Big Island of Hawaii and Sedona, AZ; daughter Roberta Wright of Houston, TX and husband Bruce.
Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
Bob Van Kirk
May 1, 1940 - July 30, 2018
The following was written by Bob while he lived at Oakcreek:
A native of Brooklyn, NY, I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1962. After teaching math and science in a Brooklyn Junior High School for six years, I became disenchanted with the NYC Board of Education and struck out for a new career in Wall Street operations. I was fortunate enough to arrive in the late ’60s when the financial industry was going through the “paperwork crunch” that caused the demise of a number of notable brokerage firms. I say “fortunate” because it was there I learned a life lesson. In chaos lies opportunity. Together with a solid work ethic, of course.
After four years with a large brokerage, where I was exposed to every major department in the back-office as a trouble-shooter, I was ready to move on. I joined a newly-formed subsidiary of the New York and American Stock Exchanges. We were the technical arm of the two exchanges charged with combining all their systems development, data centers, communications, and control functions. My role was in the clearance and settlement area when I was responsible for systems that changed the way Wall Street operates. I rose through the ranks to become Senior VP with responsibility for all clearing house operations for the nation’s markets in equities, corporate bonds, and municipal bonds. In the 1980s we automated and centralized the no-load mutual fund industry and, in the early 1990s, we ran data center operations for the newly-formed clearing house in government securities. It was a tough job, but I loved the pressure.
One of the most exciting parts of my career was the hiring of a young woman soon after I joined the exchange family. Two years later, she became my wife. Carol and I never had children, but we certainly had exhilarating careers together (she ran our mutual fund operation). We both retired early and ended up on our retirement isle – Manhattan. We had a great time enjoying New York, as well as traveling through Europe and 47 of the 50 states.
I lost Carol at the end of 2012, a victim of breast cancer. After her passing, I needed to get away from New York. I decided to move to Stillwater to be near my daughter, Melissa, my only child from a previous marriage. I moved into a retirement home, which suited my needs at the time.
Then, late in 2017, I learned about co-housing and Oakcreek. I was struck by the participative nature of the community; there are no wallflowers here. Everyone contributes from their own skillset, from their own vocation and avocation. And in one fell swoop, the creative juices were flowing again. I love this place!
See a Tribute from Bob’s daughter Melissa which was distributed at the Memorial for Bob held on August 24, 2018.
1932 - 2017
Janet passed away on May 5, 2017 and was honored in a Memorial Celebration at Oakcreek on June 4, 2017. The following was included in our July 2017 Oakcreek Newsletter: