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Putting life into focus

Riderwood photographer lives in an ideal location for many pursuits

Created date

March 20th, 2012

Cletis Pride s life has taken him from a poor West Virginia farm, to an office at 17th and M Streets in Washington, D.C., to a community where he can live comfortably and interact with like-minded people in retirement. All along the journey, he has found ways to put his life into focus and beat the odds.

Early life lessons

Cletis grew up in the frontier land of West Virginia. Though money was scarce, he made his way cutting timber, trapping and selling furs, building tires, and working on his family s farm. He never finished high school, yet he knew there was something more to life. He joined the Army, and soon after he met his wife, Ginny. She encouraged him to go to college, and even though he thought he was too old at 25, he enrolled. By the time he was 44, he had not only received his master s but his doctorate degree as well. I was the only Ph.D. I ever knew who was a high school dropout, he says. From 1975 to 1990, he worked his way up to vice president of promotional and educational services at National Geographic magazine, where he worked selling everything and increased subscriptions to 11 million a year by the time he retired. My wife always used to joke that I sold magazines at the corner of 17th and M Streets, Cletis says.

A new view

While working with editors, writers, and photographers atNational Geographic, Cletis began to discover a passion for photography. Mostly self-taught, he especially enjoys photographing flowers. He finds honing in on the details both challenging and exhilarating. The act of bringing the subject of his lens into greater focus enabled him to see things in his own life more clearly. So when Ginny wanted to move to. target="_blank">Riderwood, an Erickson Living community in Silver Spring, Md., he had no trouble seeing the advantages. The full continuum of care available on-site, the all-under-one-roof amenities, and the worry-free lifestyle appealed to both. They moved two years ago and discovered a life rich in social and financial benefits not to mention plenty of flowers for Cletis to photograph. With the surrounding grounds and landscaping, the resident-planted and -harvested garden areas, and indoor flowers, he has a constant source of subjects year-round. In addition to photography, Cletis is involved with the chess club and jazz club on campus. He appreciates the fact that he can interact with like-minded people about things that interest him, like his collection of 500-plus jazz and classical CDs. Cletis credits his wife for moving them to Riderwood and getting him from a dirt road that wasn t the end of the world, but it was so close you could see it, to over 120 acres of beautiful land at Riderwood, where he s once again putting his life into focus.