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Native michiganders return home

Sailing enthusiasts dock at Fox Run

Created date

January 29th, 2014
couple sitting in big red chairs

When they retired in the early 1980s, Howard and Janet Foell decided to leave Michigan, where they had raised their son, and set sail for Florida—literally. The Foells had been avid sailors and decided to make the journey down to Florida a memorable one by sailing there on their own boat. 

Howard began his expedition down the Atlantic Coast in September. Meanwhile, Janet drove to Florida to drop off some of their belongings. Then she met her husband in Annapolis, Md., and they sailed the rest of the way together, arriving in Florida in October of that year.

The Foells relocated to Stuart, Fla., a small coastal town known to be a great spot to catch shellfish. Howard says one of the reasons they chose Stuart is because it is on an inlet, which meant they could dock their boat and then access it for frequent sailing adventures.

“We would sail down to the Florida Keys and the Bahamas,” Howard says. “We spent a lot of time in Bahamas—at one time, we had our boat docked there for two years.”

When they were at their condo in Stuart, the Foells were active in the local yacht and sailing club. In fact, Howard served as the club’s commodore. The Foells lived through five hurricanes while they were in Florida, and each time, they were compelled to be part of relief efforts as volunteers with the American Red Cross.

Fox Run makes winters warm and bright

In 2012, after living in a warm and sunny oceanside locale for more than 30 years, the Foells decided to return to their native Michigan. Janet says they had reached a point in their lives where they wanted the security and support of a continuing care community, and they also desired to be closer to their son and two college-age grandchildren, who all reside in Michigan.

“We had looked at a place down there [in Florida], and it was really nice,” Janet says. “But we thought if we are going to do something, we should do it in Michigan.”

In the spring of 2012, the Foells moved to Run, an Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich. 

Harsh Michigan winters might be a shock to the system for people who spent the last three decades in sunny Florida, but living at Fox Run takes the hassle out of winter. For starters, it is a maintenance-free community, which means things like shoveling snow and removing ice from walkways are handled by the grounds staff. And Fox Run has dozens of on-site amenities like a bank, convenience store, medical center, salon and spa, and four full-service restaurants, all accessible through glass-enclosed, climate-controlled walkways. 

With so much of what they need under one roof, Fox Run residents don’t have to battle freezing temperatures and icy roads all winter long.

“We don’t even have to go outside if we don’t want to,” Janet says.

Easy to stay active 

The Foells are accustomed to leading active lives. They’ve found many engaging activities to enjoy with their new friends and neighbors at Fox Run, where there are dozens of resident-run clubs and committees.

Janet was active in a garden club in Florida, so she decided to join Fox Run’s flower committee, which meets every week to put together arrangements of fresh flowers to adorn the dining tables at the community’s restaurants. 

She also has been interested in antiques for many years. In fact, in Florida she founded a chapter of Questers, a national organization for people who want to learn more about antiques. So when she moved to Fox Run, getting involved with the Treasure Chest, an on-site resale shop where residents sell unwanted furniture, jewelry, and other goods, was a natural choice for Janet.

“There are so many choices of activities—whether you want to be involved with what you used to like or if you want to try some new things,” Janet says.

Howard and Janet are both regulars at Fox Run’s fitness and aquatics center, which features state-of-the-art exercise equipment as well as a heated indoor swimming pool and hot tub, which is the perfect spot to relax while snow is falling outside. 

Howard, an avid cyclist, belongs to Fox Run’s bicycle club. In mild weather, the group gets together every Wednesday morning for a 10- to 15-mile ride on Novi’s hilly and scenic bike paths.

“We’re very happy here,” Janet says. “Moving to Fox Run was the right thing for us to do.”