By Susan Shinn
A group of Trinity Oaks residents couldn’t be happier about their decision to move into a retirement community.
To that end, they’ve agreed to open their cottages for a tour of homes.
The tour, “Celebrate the Freedom of Retirement Living,” is set for 1-4 p.m. Tuesday, June 26 at Trinity Oaks, 728 Klumac Road. The tour is free and the public is invited.
Residents whose homes are on the walking tour include:
n Hazel and Lewis Kirk, 306 Majestic Heights Drive;
n Miriam Welken, 212 Luther Lane;
n Miriam McNeely, 207 Luther Lane;
n Char and Ron Molrine, 402 Trinity Oaks Drive;
n Earl and June Woodall, 408 Trinity Oaks Drive;
n Lou and Lynch Murphy, 108 Covenant Woods Drive;
n Libby Summersett, 120 Covenant Woods Drive.
While the residents agree that the decision to make a move is not one to be taken lightly, none of them has any regrets.
“It’s a tough decision to make, because in the back or your mind, you think you’re losing some freedom,” says Ron Molrine, president of the residents’ association. “But you’re enhancing your freedom.”
His wife agrees.
“Better sooner than later,” Char Molrine says.
“Come early enough in your retirement life to enjoy the freedom and independence,” Summersett adds.
These residents have remained active in their community and churches, and many keep busy with volunteer work.
“Just to keep up with the Trinity Oaks activities takes a lot of energy,” Molrine says.
Here’s more about what some of the residents on tour had to say about life in the cottages at Trinity Oaks.
Hazel and Lew Kirk
The Kirks moved to Trinity Oaks a year and a half ago.
They know a bit about downsizing. Their home in Atlanta was 5,000 square feet. Two subsequent lake homes were 4,000 and 3,100 square feet, respectively.
The cottages at Trinity Oaks range from 1,700 to 2,300 square feet, according to Diane Hundley, Trinity Oaks’ director of marketing and sales.
For the couple, both 76, it was simply time for a change, Hazel Kirk says.
“This is my garden,” she says, gesturing out the back windows. “You’ve gotta see my garden!”
With the help of the landscaping staff, Hazel Kirk had three flower gardens installed in their spacious backyard.
Hazel Kirk shows off the home’s two bedrooms, two full baths, living room, Carolina room (or sunroom), eat-in kitchen and “lovely pantry.”
“Some of the people around here call it a ‘State’ room,” Summersett says, smiling.
All of the cottages have the same basic floor plan, Hundley says, all of which have an excellent flow.
Some cottages have garages, while others have carports. Some also have basements, as is the case with the Kirks’, which at the moment still holds extra furniture.
Summersett was among the first owners who moved in during the first phase of the cottages, completed in 1999.
She was born and raised in Salisbury and returned here for her retirement.
She continues to be active in her church and in volunteer activities.
“You keep interested in things that have been part of your life earlier,” she says.
Like Hazel Kirk, Summersett also keeps flower gardens.
“You get some assistance from the landscaping people,” she says. “They do they main stuff and you get to do the fun stuff.”
Summersett loves her 9-foot ceilings, which are in all the cottages.
“You get a sense of openness and spaciousness,” she says.
Welken came to Trinity Oaks from Long Island via New Bern.
Her living room is filled with beautiful rugs her late husband brought from the Far East when he was a pilot with Pan Am.
Welken, who turns 90 in March, plans to stay in her cottage as long as she can.
She is recovering from a hip replacement, and recently spent time at the Lutheran Home during her rehabilitation. She called the experience comforting and reassuring.
“This place gets a lot of A-pluses,” she says.
McNeely and her husband, Asa, moved to Trinity Oaks 61/2 years ago from their 200-acre farm in Mount Ulla.
“One morning, my husband looked out and said, you know, it’s discouraging to look out and see how much needs to be done and I don’t feel like doing it,” says McNeely, 80.
So the couple, who already had friends at Trinity Oaks, called to see what the community had to offer.
“We liked what we saw and we never had any regrets,” McNeely says.
Her husband died in February. McNeely will be returning to Mount Ulla later this summer to live with her son and daughter-in-law in the family homeplace, which recently came up for sale.
“I’m not going because I’m unhappy here,” says McNeely.
She is looking forward to living with three of her grandchildren, ages 4, 6 and 8.
“I’m moving in during their golden years,” she says.
For now, she’ll enjoy seeing the zinnias bloom in the waist-high flower beds her husband had built for her as a surprise.
The couple was married for 58 years.
“We never, ever regretted coming here,” McNeely says, her voice breaking. “It was the right thing to do.”
The Molrines moved to Trinity Oaks from Williamsburg, Va., in December 2005.
“Retirement living is not negative,” says Ron Molrine, 76, a retired Episcopal priest. “This was a positive, life-giving step.”
“You come here to live and not to die,” says Char Molrine, 72.
Ron Molrine likes the fact that he doesn’t have to mow the grass or install ceiling fans.
He loves to recount the story of his running toilet.
He called one morning at 9 a.m. and an hour later, two maintenance staffers were at the cottage.
“By 1:30 p.m., we had a new toilet,” Molrine says. “That doesn’t happen in the real world.”
Molrine says that seniors should be willing to make the decision about moving to a retirement community on their own ó while they still can.
“It’s the best gift you can give your children,” he says.
“That window of opportunity is there,” Char Molrine says. “That’s when you need to do it.”
The Trinity Oaks tour of homes is free but reservations are requested. To make your reservation, call Diane Hundley at 704-633-1002, ext. 225.
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or email@example.com.
By Susan Shinn