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‘We’re free to be ourselves’

Devonshire residents excel at retirement living

Created date

October 14th, 2014
three women relaxing at happy hour

Parties and special events take place all the time at at PGA National, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., where Shirley Diuro lives. 

But Shirley has a knack for making any activity more fun. 

A former snowbird, when she tired of traveling back and forth from her condo in Yonkers, N.Y., to her condo in Florida, Shirley was invited to visit Devonshire, which is located “just down the street” from her daughter’s home in Marlwood Estates.

“I visited and fell in love with the place,” Shirley says, “but I thought I was too young.” Nonetheless, she described her ideal apartment home to the sales staff. 

It wasn’t long before a sales associate called and said that a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, fourth-floor home with balcony was available. Shirley took it.

She worried that, being new, she’d be lonely. But just the opposite occurred.

Creativity on the loose

After volunteering at her children’s schools, working for a high school principal, and acting as cheerleader and organizer for a host of high school events, Shirley had perfected the art of thinking young. 

Her youthful spirit was never more evident than during her first Halloween party at Devonshire, where Halloween is a big deal. Everyone dons a mask and dresses up in creative and amazing costumes. Some residents keep neighbors guessing all evening as to their true identities.

Shirley arrived at the party barefoot, masked, and shower-capped. She was encircled by a shower curtain strung on a hula-hoop and had a showerhead suspended over her head.  

As “the girl in the shower,” she made quite an entrance. After that, everyone knew Shirley.

The following year she dressed as a tree; she sported a bird’s nest straw hat and dropped leaves as she walked around.

Last year she conducted the Devonshire Marching Band. Decked out in band hats and carrying toy instruments, the ensemble took first prize in the costume contest.

What’s she wearing this year? It’s a secret. People won’t find out until the party.

Never lonely

Shirley is rarely home. She’s on the executive board of Devonshire’s Resident Counsel and chairs its activities committee. She’s in the choral group and is one of the self-described early morning “mermaids” in Devonshire’s outdoor swimming pool.

She scarcely misses attending the live entertainment and intriguing lecture programs presented in Devonshire’s Stratford Performing Arts Center by outside artists and experts.

“I try to go to everything,” she says. But with so many activities and events to choose among, conflicts are inevitable. 

That’s especially true when Shirley takes advantage of Devonshire’s transportation to performances at off-campus venues such as the Kravis Center, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, and Palm Beach Dramaworks.

On New Year’s Eve, she’ll skip the campus gala in favor of taking the Devonshire coach with some of her neighbors to see the Capitol Steps perform at the Maltz.

Door-to-door service

Shirley has a car. “But I don’t need it,” she says.

That’s because Devonshire also provides valet service, which is included in a resident’s monthly service fee. Shirley uses it to go to church services, doctors’ appointments, and the airport. 

And she definitely appreciates it when she returns from shopping. Instead of juggling groceries or department store purchases herself, a valet carries them right to her home.

Being catered to is wonderful, but Shirley says the best thing about Devonshire is the people, both her neighbors and the staff. It’s a family-like environment. 

The pre-dinner clubhouse buzz is infectious as people gather in Churchill Lounge to chat before dinner in one of the community’s five distinctive restaurants. 

After dinner, it’s a resident’s choice of entertainment in the Stratford, a movie, card games, or relaxing at home.

“We’re free to be ourselves,” Shirley says. 

No wonder her visiting friends also fall in love with Devonshire.