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Blazing a trail to Texas

Maryland couple leaves lifelong home for a fresh start in Dallas

Created date

March 24th, 2014
couple in front of a flag

Al and Pat Binko had their sights set on moving to an Erickson Living community. As lifelong Maryland residents, they were familiar with Oak Crest and Charlestown, two Erickson Living communities near their home in Harford County.

“We had several friends who were pleased with their decision to move to Oak Crest, which was the closest community to our house,” says Pat. “The Erickson communities in Maryland have a great reputation.”

But as much as they liked what the Maryland communities had to offer, Al and Pat felt themselves pulled in a different direction: south.

“Two of our six children live in North Texas,” says Pat. “All seven of our grandchildren, ages 10 to 27, are in the Dallas area. When we visited Texas four years ago, we toured Springs, the Erickson community in North Dallas. We liked the on-site medical center, connected buildings, and the many activities, so we joined the priority list.”

Overcoming hesitation

Pat was ready to move, but Al wasn’t convinced he was ready to leave his house and move 1,400 miles away.

“I didn’t want to come,” says Al, a retired photographer. “After living in Maryland for years, I saw no reason to move to Texas.”

But the more Al and Pat talked, the more Al realized there were valid reasons for change. He agreed to keep an open mind, and the couple made an appointment at Oak Crest to see about moving forward. 

“I walked into the sales office, turned around, and Al wasn’t behind me,” says Pat. “I thought he changed his mind and left. As it turns out, he’d just gone back to the car to get something.” 

Al was warming up to the idea of heading south. With his blessing, the sales team at Oak Crest set the moving gears in motion.

“That’s the great thing about Erickson Living,” says Pat. “The sales teams [from different communities] work together. Ashley Ruth, the personal moving consultant at Oak Crest, got a copy of the floor plan we liked in Texas and helped identify which furniture pieces we would take.”


In September 2011, the couple arrived in the Lone Star State with 12 pieces of furniture and 84 boxes. It didn’t take them long to settle into their one-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath Gilman-style apartment home with a den—a floor plan they’d only seen on paper until that point.

“I loved Highland Springs right from the beginning,” says Pat. “The friendliness of the residents and staff was the first thing I noticed.”

Pat was also able to keep the job she’s had for the past 38 years.

“I’m an advisory teacher for the Calvert School in Baltimore, a homeschooling academy,” she says. The Calvert School’s associated homeschooling division administers a curriculum shipped to families around the United States and the world, allowing Pat to work from home. “I’m fortunate that I can work from home.”

When she’s not responding to students’ work, Pat helps out with the cradle and doll project at Highland Springs. She’s joined a book club, enjoys regular card games, and is active with the women’s coffee group.

Perception vs. reality

For Al, the move proved better than he’d anticipated.

“It was the difference between perception and reality,” he says. “I didn’t realize how nice it would be to leave the chores of house maintenance behind. Now I have time to do the things that interest me, like growing tomatoes.”

Al tends to his produce in the community’s on-site greenhouse. He attends the men’s club monthly breakfasts and works out in the fitness center. And in October 2013, Al traveled to Washington, D.C., aboard an Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial with fellow veteran and Highland Springs resident Raford Cade.

“I was hesitant to move to Highland Springs, but now I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” he says. “It just goes to show, you’re never too old for change.”