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Meet a woman who inspires

Elaine Schmid connects with her neighbors every day

Created date

June 8th, 2015
Ann's Choice resident
Ann's Choice resident

So many interesting people live at , Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., that scintillating dinner conversations are practically guaranteed at its four on-site restaurants. 

In fact, you could dine with resident Elaine Schmid every night and find yourself engaged in a lively but different discussion each time. 

Optimistic and determined woman

Although Elaine and her husband Jerry had been on the priority list at Ann’s Choice since 2002, they moved from nearby Southampton this January when Jerry’s knees could no longer take all the steps in their split-level house.

“Our kids set up the apartment on Thursday, and I had company the following Monday,” says Elaine. “I’ve been having company ever since.” 

An optimistic and determined woman, Elaine cared for the couple’s house and raised their four children while Jerry worked during the day, earned his accounting degree at night, and served for 33 years in the Navy Reserves.

After the children—all Penn State graduates—left home, Elaine took a job at Bloomingdale’s. She also decided it was time to earn her college degree. 

In 1994, she enrolled in Penn State’s “Go 60” program, which is free for people over 60 who take only two classes a term. After sending four children through college, Elaine was determined to earn her history degree gratis.

“I needed 126 credits,” she says. “That’s why it took me 17 years. But it was the best 17 years of my life.”

Travel bug

Elaine learned to value history early on because her father took her to all the historic places in Philadelphia where she grew up. He told her that people came from all over the world to see those places.

So at Penn State, after she studied the history of a country or region, she and Jerry traveled there. After a course about the Far East, they went to Singapore and took a cruise to Bangkok, Vietnam, China, and other ports. 

Their ventures included destinations near and far, including Australia and New Zealand, Alaska and Iceland. 

Elaine studied more than history, however. She thrived on an eclectic selection of courses. She took several religion courses, studied the evolution of jazz, the sociology of aging, and art and film history. She even gave a presentation about nuclear energy.

Attending Ann’s Choice sales events helped her master an advanced math course. When she bemoaned her efforts to tablemates at a sales event, a priority list member—a former math teacher—offered to tutor her at no charge. Now they’re neighbors at Ann’s Choice. 

It seems Elaine can discuss nearly any topic, including an issue being raised today: “I loved being with my young classmates,” she says, “but they couldn’t borrow my notes because they couldn’t read cursive.”

For eight of her college years, she also cared for her mother but still excelled at her studies. Elaine was inducted into two honor societies and nominated as “A Woman Who Inspires at Penn State.” 

A convenient and friendly lifestyle

Elaine has enthusiastically embraced her new lifestyle at Ann’s Choice. “We love living here,” she says. 

The Schmids stayed warm and cozy this past winter, which gave their children peace of mind after the harsh winter of 2013-2014.

And they thoroughly appreciate the convenience of maintenance-free, one-level living, in particular, a laundry room right in their apartment home. 

Elaine uses the on-site bank and has changed her doctor to one of the Ann’s Choice physicians who practice at the campus medical center.

She eagerly awaited winter’s end so she could sit on her patio and chat with her neighbors.

This spring, while Jerry was busy with work at his part-time tax preparation business, Elaine was off to attend activities and see friends in Southampton. 

When friends visit her, she takes them on hallway walks to explore Ann’s Choice and admire the shelf displays at residents’ doors. 

She’s delighted that the couple she and Jerry doubled with to their high school prom also live at Ann’s Choice. “Wherever you are or whoever you meet, there’s always a connection,” she says. 

When you have dinner with Elaine, you never know what connections you might discover.