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Meet your Brooksby neighbors: Barbara and John Sullivan

Created date

March 28th, 2014
John and Barbara Sullivan take a break from their activities in their Kingston-style apartment at Brooksby, in Peabody, Mass.
John and Barbara Sullivan take a break from their

Barbara and John Sullivan began casually looking at Brooksby, the Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass., a decade ago. A sociable pair, Barbara and John had noticed that as people in their community got older or became restricted physically, those people also became more isolated.

“We’re planners. We’ve seen what happens when you’re no longer a couple. You have to prepare yourself for that,” John says. 

The Sullivans set out in search of a home that would satisfy their future needs. Brooksby’s amenities and 90-acre campus with more than 1,800 residents made it appealing. 

“Brooksby had the advantage of size,” John says. “One of the lessons we learned is the larger it is, the better because it has the opportunities.” 

“It was a place that would allow us to live as full and as active as possible,” Barbara adds.

 Referencing Brooksby’s chapel, fitness center, bank, and salon, Barbara says: “We really can’t think of anything as far as basic requirements that you would need to go off campus for.” 

For example, whereas other retirement communities the Sullivans reviewed had one restaurant, Brooksby has five. 

Beyond learning about Brooksby’s amenities, the couple became well-versed in its financials and management.  

“Erickson Living seemed to have it all together,” John says.

Rising to the top

The Sullivans were living in Marblehead when they first visited Brooksby. They felt they were years out from a move to the community, but they joined its priority list to secure themselves a place in line for an apartment home of their choice when they were ready to move. 

In the meantime, the Sullivans shared their findings with Barbara’s sister and brother and their spouses. Barbara’s brother and his wife moved to Brooksby about seven years ago, and Barbara’s sister and her husband moved four years later—another Brooksby perk, Barbara says.  

In the years that passed, the Sullivans had downsized and moved to a condominium in Marblehead. They thought they were still a year or two away from a move to Brooksby when their neighbor approached them last year asking if they had thought about selling their condo. 

“In one or two years, a buyer might not be out there so readily,” Barbara says they reasoned. And selling the house themselves would remove the cost of using a real estate professional. The couple decided to sell. 

After they signed the Purchase and Sale Agreement, the Sullivans next contacted Brooksby Sales Counselor Jane Kiegel to begin the process of finding an apartment home in the community. 

Most people choose their preferred Brooksby floor plan before selling their house, but being the planners they are, the Sullivans already knew from previous visits that they wanted a two-bedroom, two-bathroom Kingston-style apartment home with a balcony.  

“We did things backwards, but because we were on the priority list for so long, we rose to the top,” Barbara says. Priority for selecting an available apartment is determined based on the date a person joins the priority list, and the Sullivans had joined about eight years before. 

Barbara says the couple had an “immediate connection with Jane [Kiegel],” who worked hard to find them the apartment they wanted, with a view of the woods. 

The Sullivans had a visit from Brooksby Personal Moving Consultant Laurie Phillips, who assessed the furniture in their condo and recommended the set up of their new bedroom. Dot Harding of Custom Interiors installed customized wood floors, cabinets, and closet space in the new apartment home based on the Sullivans’ requests. 

The Sullivans used local Marblehead movers to make the move in October. Though they have moved many times, Barbara says, “This is the best move that we have had. We’re going nowhere.”     

A sense of belonging

Since their move, the Sullivans say they have found Brooksby to be even more vibrant than they expected. 

Though they knew about the community’s many resident-run activities, Barbara says, “You don’t really comprehend it until you start to do it. One of the most important things in your life is sociability.”

The Sullivans frequent the indoor swimming pool and fitness center, which they call one of the “best-equipped gyms” they have ever used, and participate in tai chi classes. John volunteers in the TV studio, where he runs the cameras, and he sings with the Brooksby Singers. 

Once a week, the couple dines at a table for two in one of Brooksby’s restaurants, but the rest of the time, they sit at larger tables, giving them the opportunity to meet their neighbors.  

“We have met some of the most fascinating people, with backgrounds that are absolutely mind-boggling,” John says. “Everybody that we have met has a story.” 

Shortly after moving to Brooksby, the Sullivans attended a holiday party. Though they didn’t know many people then, Barbara says, “We never had the feeling of being outside. You still feel like you belong.” 

Though the Sullivans typically go to Florida for a couple of months each winter, this year they opted to stay at Brooksby. 

“I hate the cold, but this winter it hasn’t been bad,” Barbara said this January. “Winter is wonderful as long as you are inside looking out. Winter doesn’t really impact us [at Brooksby],” she adds. Next year, they plan to go to Florida for just one month.  

Of the move to Brooksby, Barbara adds: “It was a good move. It only gets affirmed with each day.”