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Carefree way of living

High school sweethearts start a new chapter

Created date

July 21st, 2014
couple sitting on chair in apartment

Diane and Jim Panzone met as high school students in Detroit, Mich., and began dating. Jim took Diane to the senior prom, which turned out to be the first of many proms they would attend together.

Diane and Jim married and went on to become teachers. They worked together at the same high school. Diane taught English and economics, and Jim taught government. Every year, the couple volunteered as chaperones at the senior prom.

“When Jim took me to our senior prom, he thought it was the last one,” Diane jokes.

At age 50, Diane and Jim took an opportunity for early retirement. They took some cruises and traveled a bit, and then began spending winters in Florida near Fort Meyers. During their retirement, the couple also took up country western dancing. They joined a dancing club in Florida and formed many close friendships with their fellow dancers over the years.

Ideal home base for snowbirds

Next year, the Panzones will celebrate 50 years of marriage, and the high school sweethearts have just embarked on another new adventure together. In May, Diane and Jim moved from a condo in Warren, Mich., to Run, an Erickson Living community in Novi. 

“We did a lot of looking, and we liked the variety of floor plans they had at Fox Run,” Diane says. “You can pick one that suits your needs.”

Diane and Jim chose a Hastings-style floor plan. Their well-appointed home features two bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, an eat-in kitchen, and a spacious living area with a bay window. 

The Panzones worked with Fox Run’s custom interiors department to put their personal stamp on their new space. Jim says the renovation included removing half of a wall between the living room and kitchen, and installing a full wall of built-in bookshelves in the master bedroom. They had hardwood-style flooring installed in the kitchen and the second bedroom, which the Panzones plan to use as a den. The unit was also upgraded with recessed lighting and repainted throughout.

 “The interior design worked out beautifully,” Jim says.

Still snowbirding

Fox Run makes a perfect home base for snowbirds because the gated community is staffed by security 24 hours a day and all home maintenance is included in residents’ monthly service packages. That means residents who head south for the winter don’t have to worry about pipes freezing or hiring someone to shovel snow while they’re away.

“Now we’ll be able to just lock the door and go,” Jim says. “At the condo, we had good neighbors who would watch the place, but this is going to be a much more carefree way of living for us.”

When they are at home at Fox Run, Diane and Jim now have access to all kinds of leisure activities and nearly 1,000 neighbors with which to enjoy them. The daily lineup of activities ranges from water volleyball games to political committee discussions. 

Fox Run’s broad range of amenities, from full-service restaurants to a salon and spa, are all just a short indoor walk from residents’ front doors.

“It’s like being at a five-star resort,” Diane says. “With all of the amenities and activities, it’s a place where you can survive the winter.”