Dawn and John Strumsky—A life of surprises

When Dawn Strumsky met her husband John, she made it clear that she didn't like surprises. 'I asked John never to surprise me, mostly because, in my experience, surprises never work out the way they should,' she says.

John, however, wasn't so quick to concede. 'I wanted to show her that surprises could be fun and I was prepared to prove it to her.'

For the next 40 years, John left his wife notes on scraps of paper and surprised her with thoughtful and inexpensive gifts, like her favorite foods. On one memorable birthday, John even arranged for the local high school band to serenade his wife with the song 'Happy Birthday.'

For her 62nd birthday, John surprised Dawn with something she'd wanted for years—he signed them up for the Priority List at Charlestown.

In May 2011, they listed their three-bedroom house with a real estate agent. It sold in just four days for $30,000 more than the couple anticipated. Now, they're enjoying a life filled with wonderful surprises.

'I had planned to sit in my den and relax,' says John. 'Instead, we've hardly been home. We've been going to plays and concerts. I'm at the fitness center every other day, and we've made so many friends here.'

As for Dawn, life at Charlestown is like a fairytale come true. 'When I moved here I became a princess,' she says. 'I don't have to wash windows. I don't have to work in the yard. I don't have to worry about snow in the wintertime. I am a princess.'

Charlestown Residents the Strumskys