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Brooksby's pioneers

Peabody community opened in June 2000

Created date

June 8th, 2015

In the late 1990s, Les and Bev Johnson were starting to consider their options for retirement living. The Peabody, Mass., couple looked at condos and retirement communities in the surrounding areas.

“Getting up and down the stairs in our house was becoming a problem,” says Bev. “One day, I found Erickson’s website and told Les, ‘Too bad there’s not something like this around here.’ I liked all the amenities and activities offered at an Erickson community.”

To her surprise, Bev saw an advertisement in the local paper a short time later for an Erickson Living community coming soon to Peabody.

“I called the number in the paper, and we visited Erickson’s sales trailer by the quarry which is now the site of Brooksby Village,” says Bev. “We joined the priority list that day.”

A year and a half later, in June 2000, Les and Bev were among Brooksby’s first residents. They moved into their two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath Hastings-style apartment two weeks after the community’s grand opening.

“I remember moving into our apartment, and the staff greeted us with gift baskets,” says Bev. “It was such an exciting time.”

Fifteenth anniversary celebration

Now, as Brooksby prepares to celebrate its fifteenth anniversary, Les and Bev can’t believe how fast the years have flown. Les tends his garden at Brooksby, while Bev sings in the Protestant choir and volunteers with Brooksby’s in-house television station.

“We’ve made so many memories at Brooksby,” says Bev. “We have wonderful friends who are like family. Everything we need is right here, and we can be as active as we want. It’s been everything we hoped it would be.”

Residents and staff will kick off Brooksby’s fifteenth anniversary celebration this month with a luncheon for the community’s first residents. Just over 30 pioneers will come together to reminisce about their decade and a half together.

“In the months leading up to Brooksby’s grand opening in 2000, the sales team hosted several events and trips for those of us who had reserved apartments,” says Bev. “We visited Brooksby Farm and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. We got to know each other even before we moved in.”

Making the most of every day

These days, those bonds remain close. Bev regularly meets other pioneers for dinner, including Betty Fish, who cut the ribbon at Brooksby’s grand opening. 

Betty and her husband William were living in Canton when they saw an advertisement in The Boston Globe for an upcoming Erickson Living community in Peabody.

The couple selected a two-bedroom, two-bath Kingston-style apartment, but William passed away six months before Brooksby opened. Betty decided to move forward and was the first person to settle her home.

“I got a call asking if I’d like to cut the ribbon at the grand opening,” says Betty. “That was an exciting moment for me.”

These days, you can find Betty in the fitness center or volunteering her time to help put mail in residents’ cubbies.

“It doesn’t seem like it’s been 15 years since I moved to Brooksby,” says Betty. “They’ve gone by in the blink of an eye.”