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Anything but 'retirement

Mort and René Stein stay active and involved at Ann’s Choice

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July 7th, 2015
Ann's Choice resident playing piano
Ann's Choice resident playing piano

Mort and René Stein moved to , Erickson Living’s retirement community in Bucks County, Pa., 20 years after he’d retired from teaching high school history and three years after he’d retired from his dream job.

The dream job was with the Philadelphia Phillies. Mort applied for an usher position but was hired for the security detail, which was fine with him. All he wanted was to see the games. 

He carried a radio rather than a gun and worked in the stands and then in the dugout. 

Mort reveled in his front row seat to the action. He set a personal goal of shaking hands with as many Hall of Famers as he could. His count totaled about 25, including such luminaries as Hank Aaron, Bob Feller, and Willie Mays.

Pallin’ around

This spring, he recounted his experiences with the Phillies during a presentation to the ROMEO club at Ann’s Choice. Mort is always up for discussing baseball.

In fact, having buddies to talk with influenced the Steins to move to Ann’s Choice. Their co-op in Jenkintown was lovely and convenient, but when Mort retired from the Phillies, he found few neighbors to pal around with. At Ann’s Choice, he has 2,100 neighbors. 

“We’ve met very interesting people here,” says René. “That’s the nice thing about the campus restaurants. Some nights we eat with friends; other nights we eat with people we don’t know.”

Not only do their Ann’s Choice neighbors include friends from their synagogue and old neighborhood, but also people René went to grade school with and a man who ushered at their wedding.

What’s missing is the hassle of home ownership. “Ann’s Choice is much more accommodating,” Mort says. To have work done at the co-op, he had to line up a plumber or electrician himself.

If there’s a problem at Ann’s Choice, he simply calls maintenance, and the crew takes care of things in short order. 

Leading the life they want

Living at Ann’s Choice gives the Steins the freedom to come, go, and participate as they like.

This spring, Mort signed up for 17 of 19 classes offered on-site at the Ann’s Choice Lifelong Learning Academy (ACLLA). He also volunteers on an ACLLA committee and attends the Current Events group.

The Steins’ base of operations is their spacious two-bedroom apartment home. Its great room easily accommodates René’s 5/8 Baldwin grand piano. “If my piano doesn’t fit in, I don’t fit in,” she’d told Mort.

A former elementary school teacher, René, like her husband, held a postretirement position. She worked as a counselor and also taught music and managed the music programs at her former school.

Now she focuses on music for her own enjoyment. 

At Ann’s Choice, she attends concerts and choral performances, was the accompanist for a Musicians and Friends concert, has played at sales events, provided predinner music in the lounges, and performed at Rose Gardens—the campus rehabilitation and continuing care neighborhood.

Off campus, she belongs to the chamber music program at Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School and for more than a decade has attended what she calls “piano camp,” a weeklong intensive program of classes and recitals at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.

She’s also a needle worker, doing counted cross-stitch and knitting preemie hats and blankets for babies at Abington Hospital with groups from the Steins’ synagogue. The couple also attends Friday services in the nondenominational chapel at Ann’s Choice.

Retirement—what’s that?

“We’re doing the same things now that we did when our youngsters left for college,” says Mort. That includes travel near and far.

The travel bug bit after the Steins, with young children in tow, lived for a year on a kibbutz in Israel. They’ve seen much of the world since then. 

The travel group at Ann’s Choice influenced Mort and  René’s 2015 trip to the South of France and Normandy’s beaches.

“René got interested in the beaches because of the stories she’d heard from so many of the WWII veterans at Ann’s Choice,” Mort says. 

Mort served in the Armed Forces following the Korean War. As a member of the Ann’s Choice Veterans Club, he and his son went on an Honor Flight to the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C., last September. “It was one of the most exciting times of my life,” he says. 

For the Steins, moving to Ann’s Choice has meant anything but retiring from life.

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