Read more on why some of our members chose to live in 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!
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 if needed or wanted. Even nicer is knowing my neighbors. We are a diverse group of 31 with much to appreciate. I’m glad I’ve gotten to know each of us and know better the ones I already knew before arriving here.
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 subsets. 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. By the way, did I tell you about the 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 – and not having to cook on most common meal nights.
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. It does take time and we are getting better and better at knowing how to do it, both from the practice of having made decisions and from the experience and knowledge gained from our first few years here. 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. The whole really is greater than the sum of its parts!
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.
I was born and raised in a small town in southwest Oklahoma that despite its size, was the greatest place for a child to grow up. Fletcher will always be home. After high school I attended a semester at Cameron University, Lawton and then transferred to Oklahoma State University. It was there in 1969 I met the love of my life. Jim and I were married four months after we met and enjoyed 39 wonderful years together before The Lord called him home in 2009. In 1969 the U.S. was not only involved in the Vietnam war, but problems in the the Middle East were continuing to stir. Jim's draft number was 18. Rather than go into the Army, Jim joined the Navy and served on submarines for four years. It was during this time I was given an opportunity that had a life changing effect on me.
I participated in two dependent cruises on the USS Corporal, the conventional sub Jim was first assigned. I have found nothing comparable to hearing the horn alert a dive, hear the hatches being closed and locked, and the Officer of the Deck yell "dive, dive, dive". With the pungent smell of diesel fuel and sweat, that boat did a 45 degree downward pitch and my anxiety and claustrophobia took over. I realized when it leveled off that there was 100 foot of water between me and fresh air. I thought if I could live through this I might be able to do just about anything.
A year later the U.S. sold the Corporal and Jim was transferred to a nuclear sub by the time the second dependent cruise was scheduled. A friend and I had fun sitting on the deck sunning, feeling the wind blow our long hair as we stood in the conning tower, and eating steaks in the officers galley. Then I had the great honor to be sitting at the helm steering the Corporal when she dove for the final time under the commission of the United States of America. It was in that moment of pride that I realized this gal from a small town in Oklahoma could accomplish anything I put my mind to.
Our daughter was born while we were in the Navy. She graduated with her masters from OSU and has been employed by Penn. State University for over 15 years. She and her husband have one of our grands. Our son, five years younger, lives in Stillwater and owns his own company, He and his wife have provided us with the other two of our grands. These three grandchildren are the pride and joy of this Grandma.
I chose to be a mother first and foremost, helping financially support and raise our family. Because of this choice, I did not return to college. My field was in accounting and my education was the "school of hard knocks". I retired in 2010 while serving as Accounting Controller to a 99-bed hospital in Cushing, OK. Years of hard work had paid off.
From the moment the plan of Oakcreek Cohousing Community was shared with me, it was where I desired to live. Two years later I was able to join them. Living here has provided me friendships that I refer to as extended family, and security by knowing others are close by to interact with and provide assistance if needed. There is no doubt in my mind that I have made the right choice and that Oakcreek is where I am to be at this time of my life.
Mebby and Frank
We were both born in California. Mebby (nick name for Mary Ellen Bayley) is one of six children of great parents Mary & Harry Bayley. Frank was born in Northern California and was adopted by his wonderful parents Alta and Van. Mebby went to Rio Hondo college and studied business and accounting. Frank went to San Francisco State University and received a BA in Business.
We met while working at Levitz Furniture in 1973 and married soon after. We have spent our 38+ years together in the home furnishing business. We both worked on the wholesale and retail sides of the industry with many of the largest furniture companies in the US and Italy. In 1995 we opened our first retail business in Monterey, CA and ended our retail adventure in 2009.
We have two great daughters, Tiffany in Austin, TX where she lives with her husband Mel and daughter Bayley; and Anna who lives in Edmond, OK with husband Terry and children Trinity, Journee, Ashley, and Isaac. Our family is what brought us to Oklahoma.
We have watched and studied cohousing for many years and are so grateful to have found OakCreek. Mebby’s interests are children’s development, spiritual studies, and cohousing. Frank loves to cook and play golf.
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.
I grew up with 100 brothers and sisters! How could that happen? By the age of ten, I lost both parents. My sister and one of my two brothers went to live at the Charles Page Children’s Home in Sands Springs, OK with over 100 other children. It was a wonderful opportunity! I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to grow and to be in such a caring, supportive environment.
I graduated from high school and finished two years of college at the Oklahoma College for Women. I married Jesse Robert, an electrical engineering student at OSU, and we were married from 1949 until 1996 when he passed away from cancer. Jesse was an engineer with GE and we moved all over the country adding 4 daughters to our family. We lived in Schenectady, NY where my oldest daughter, Linda, was born. Linda lives in Stillwater and has two daughters. Then on to Sherman, Texas where my next two were born – Jessica and Georgia. Jessica now lives in Seattle, WA and Georgia in Little Rock, AR. From there we lived in St Louis, MO and Alamogordo, NM then back to Midwest City, OK where Roberta was born. Roberta lives in Houston with her husband Bruce.
When Jesse retired, we moved to a farm of 140 acres between Wellston and Harrah, OK. I have continued to live on the farm and was remarried for eleven years to John Thompson. We were recently divorced bringing me to Oakcreek.
I have always enjoyed cooking and home making. Neighbors and friends would ask me to cater gatherings for them and I had a small business by word of mouth. I was then in charge of the kitchen at the First Presbyterian Church of Oklahoma City from 1963 to 1966. I was an in-home Health Care Provider for the Department of Human Services and cared for a next door neighbor for 3 years. I then managed the household for an elderly gentleman in his 90s for 9 years in Oklahoma City.
I look forward to Oakcreek living and the community we will build together.
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 42 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 is now treasurer. Other interests include cooking, baking, sewing, making dangly earrings, and making unusual pots for plants.
Bob retired from ConocoPhillips in 2003. While he had to stop running recently because of a bad knee, he remains active in road running and course certification as a member of the Road Running Technical Council of USA Track & Field. He is also a life member of the US Metric Association. 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 holds support meetings in Stillwater, Ponca City and Enid.
We are interested in community and looking forward to starting a new phase of life at Oakcreek.
Nelda and Doug
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!
Now that I have lived at Oakcreek for 3 years, I can say that the reality is better than I imagined. Conceptually, cohousing is everything I believed in all of my life…interdependence, good neighbors, intentional design fostering community, helping, learning, being challenged to grow…and these are all true at Oakcreek. There are, however, several things that I did NOT expect. I thought I would miss my old house and great yard…I haven’t…not for one second. I didn’t imagine how much I would love my new house light, bright, and energy efficient to the max. I can’t begin to tell you how liberating it is to not have too much “stuff.” I thought I would be slightly put-out having to walk a little way to my garage; but, I haven’t been…even a little…even in the rain or cold. I even like walking back and forth to my house from my garage especially when I’m on the way back to my house after work and someone pops their head out their door and says, “Can you stop for a drink?” Especially if they have olives.
I have met, and am getting to know, new people at Oakcreek. I have tried new foods, tried new activities, seen new movies, and learned that everyone has something to contribute to the whole. I’m even getting to know myself better. One way this is happening is through a small book discussion group that has been meeting together using a 40 Day Journey series. Hearing the reactions and insights of others has been a challenge to me to growth and has introduced me to writers and poets that I might never have known. I’m mighty happy…all the things that I expected at Oakcreek AND these bonus items!
When I retired, I looked around Stillwater to see what housing options are available for me as I thought about moving out of my big house. There really were no options that appealed to me. As I explored the cohousing concept, I was intrigued with the potential of living in a community where people shared values and encourage each other to fully live into these values. Joining with a group of people who were also interested in creating a cohousing community was the beginning of a new learning experience and a journey of faith and trust. The result is Oakcreek Community and I love living here.
Sharing the fun times and having the security of knowing that my neighbors really do care about me and will come to my aid when I need a hand is great. As I share my talents in community work teams I feel valued – knowing that collectively we are creating a place where quality of life remains high. These positive experiences go a long way in overcoming the more difficult times when we have to work through differing needs and opinions in order to reach solutions that work for all of us.
I was born and 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. I currently serve as Parish Nurse for three Catholic parishes. 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 look forward to 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: I moved to Oakcreek because I wanted to live in a community which encourages and supports an active lifestyle as I aged. There is a shared responsibility in caring for our homes, land and each other that emphasizes environmentally constructed homes and living practices. My former neighborhood was no longer a “community,” with neighbors changing every year and sometimes each university semester. I did not want to become more isolated in a home that had become too large with too many things to fix. I like to travel and felt that living close to neighbors who cared for me would provide more safety when at home and for my home when I was away.
One of my favorite things about living at Oakcreek is that I can be outdoors every day and as much of the day as I choose. While there is always plenty to do in our large common yard, I also enjoy the exercise of just walking and spending time in the woods down by the creek observing nature. The owls and hawks are very active most of the time there and it is so well wooded that they are usually unaware of my presence.
Because I like to be outdoors, I enjoy my time working with the landscape team. I have learned so much from the knowledgeable community members while caring for our yard.
I also enjoy the shared common meals. We have wonderful creative cooks. They provide the setting, but eating healthy meals together helps keep up healthy relationships.
Steve: Although a neighborhood can be a community, most neighborhood interactions are usually casual and sporadic without much commitment. Life with 31 individuals in 24 clustered homes has both rewards and challenges that few of us encountered before joining Oakcreek. The process of adjusting to our new physical and social environment takes time. I look forward to more progress toward creating a true community, one where we are a community of friends who enjoy each other, share activities, are aware of other’s needs, help each other, and respect our needs for privacy.
The common meals are definitely one of my favorite things. Not only is the food great but the variety of conversations during meals is very interesting. I also enjoy walking our cats around the property, especially in the winter months when I can take them into our patch of woods without losing them.
Julie and Mike
Mike: I first heard about the co-housing concept from Pat Darlington in 2009 and signed on early to be a part of the Stillwater Senior Co-housing once it got built. Finally, after a lot of work on the part of many people, it did get built and we named it Oakcreek Community. We moved here in late 2012 and “life has never been the same.” I moved here because I liked the idea of community, of being a good neighbor, and having good neighbors. It has been a joy to know my neighbors and to interact with them on a daily basis both spontaneously and in planned activities such as our common meals. We love our downsized apartment which is just what we need. This frees us from the tyranny of maintaining a bigger house. The concept of urban infill makes more sense to me than suburban “McMansion Expansion.” The location of Oakcreek in town is ideal for us as “bicycle people,” as Julie and I do most of our getting around Stillwater on bikes. I love the emphasis at Oakcreek of being active adults, healthy living (and eating), and aging in place. We love the emphasis also of being “green,” living simply, and living lightly on the planet. What has surprised me greatly is how much my grandchildren love it here when they visit. They know many of our neighbors by name. They love to visit Helen, Dorothy, and others, take stuff from John’s “fairy garden,” climb trees, and run on our nature trails. Grandpa (me) likes all the above too except taking stuff from John’s fairy garden.
Julie: I agree with all the information Mike gave but I wanted to add a little more. Something that surprised me was that there was space for all the things I considered “most important.” I did have to glean out a bit more when we moved in and I periodically have to glean out things I have accumulated or just don’t use. I like having just enough space and I certainly like having only one bathroom to clean. For me, the best aspect of Oakcreek is knowing my neighbors. In a regular neighborhood, you can “know” your neighbors—their name, basic details about their life, etc., but they are not necessarily a friend, a person you work together with on a certain task or have fun with. I don’t have a favorite planned activity at Oakcreek but my favorite activity here is visiting certain members of the community at their home or on their porch. One of my granddaughters also likes to go to various members’ homes for a short visit. All in all, living in community has a lot of advantages. I am happy to be part of this one and to show to others that it is a very good way to live.
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.
I was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Anyone want to see my birth certificate? Shortly after my birth the family moved to Oakland, California. There were my parents, three older brothers and one older sister, soon joined by Uncle Elyphus. It was not unusual for an odd uncle or cousin or family of friends to be joining us in our modest home.There was always room for one more in the beds (sometimes the floor) and at the table.
I have fond memories of doing errands with my Mother while my brothers and sisters were in school and my Father at work. During those days Mother helped form my appreciation for beautiful things. It was not unusual for us to walk through the Salvation Army or Good Will thrift shops when we shopped downtown. On those excursions Mother taught me the difference between sterling and silverplate, crystal and glass, pressed, carved and etched, and so on. It was at a time, in the 40's and 50's, when you could buy a silver spoon for a dime or a crystal pitcher for fifty cents at a thrift store. We lived in a frugal household so Mother rarely bought one of those beautiful items. But occasionally she did. I got to watch her care for those precious finds and I still have some of them.
Mother also taught me the art of collecting. I remember fondly her fun collection of salt and pepper shakers. She took out the built-in ironing board and put glass shelves in the space to display those shakers, much to my delight. She helped my sister and me collect miniature porcelain vases from Occupied Japan. We loved the applied flowers and the occasional painting under glaze. We soon learned you have to dust them. I actually enjoyed that chore because they shined after the dusting. If you visit my house you probably won't find it surprising to discover antique vases throughout. My first find as an adult was a piece of Roseville pottery.I found it at a garage sale for $1.00 in the 70's.
Although my professional life was that of Counselor, Hospital Social Worker, and Administrator, my avocation was antiques and collectibles. The static nature of the beauty of the items gave me a sense of calm after a work day filled with broken lives and broken spirits. In the 90's with two close friends I opened ForGiving, a business of buying and selling antiques and collectibles, at antique malls. My friends soon dropped out but I successfully operated the business with much joy for about 12 years. At retirement I closed the mall booths but have continued to do estate and tag sales for folks trying to downsize their lives. Call me crazy but the sparkle of an old piece of glass after I've cleaned it, and the smell of an old linen after I've gotten the spots out and ironed it, are worth all of the effort of the tasks. I think it is a metaphor for healing and transformation.
So far I have organized three successful tag sales for the future residents of Oakcreek. Come live with us at Oakcreek and I'll help you downsize too.
Having recently retired from OSU, where I taught Spanish and prepared K-12 foreign language teachers, I am excited about new possibilities that do not require my rising at 5:00 a.m. unless I really want to! I plan to read all the books that have been on the shelf for far too long; I want to spend time in Costa Rica and Mexico, traveling at a more leisurely pace than I ever could when I traveled abroad with students; I look forward to once again picking up my hobbies of sewing and knitting; and I hope to live a more healthy lifestyle because I will have more time to cook, to exercise, and to rest. Oakcreek Community will be very important to me in my retirement, since I do not have any family in Oklahoma. I look forward to developing new friendships, to sharing common interests, to learning new skills such as gardening from my new neighbors, and to being of assistance to others in any way I can. Let the excitement begin!