Tribune Print Share Text

Extended family

And they all live at Erickson Living communities

Created date

September 28th, 2015
Seabrook resident
Seabrook resident

For Art Strohmer, Erickson Living is a family tradition. A Seabrook resident since November 2011, Art has six other family members who have chosen to live at an Erickson Living community. 

It all started with his mother, Anita Strohmer, who moved to the flagship community

From the beginning

Art says his mother embraced the community lifestyle. “Mother was active in almost everything at Charlestown,” he says. 

She started the square dance club, photographed residents and activities for the monthly newsletter, served on the Resident Advisory Council for nine years, and worked off campus as secretary for Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church and Nursery School in Baltimore County.

When she wasn’t busy at an activity, she was encouraging friends and family members to join her.

“[Founder] John Erickson always said my mother was one of his best recruiters,” Art says. “She got over 30 people to move in.” Including Art.

The place to be

Art stayed at his mother’s apartment home more than a hundred times before settling at Seabr..., whose location in Tinton Falls, N.J., is just 35 miles from his previous home in Sayreville.

“I was completely familiar with the whole concept. Being single, I decided this was where I wanted to be,” Art says. “There is a sense of security with having care available if you ever need it.” Though most people never need it, Seabrook’s on-site continuing care neighborhood provides additional levels of care if they ever do.

Art joined the priority list ten years before he wanted to move so that he would have prime choice of apartment homes and locations. “Joining the priority list early is the best way to get the apartment home you want,” says Sales Manager Alexis Bouhoutsos. However, she adds, apartment homes become available all the time. 

Priority list members learn about incentives, available apartment homes, and construction or renovations before the general public. They also have exclusive opportunities to experience community life through events. Membership requires a $1,000 fully refundable deposit and a $150 nonrefundable application fee.  

“The priority list is risk-free. If you change your mind and don’t move to Seabrook, you get your deposit back. If you do move, your deposit goes toward your entrance fee,” Bouhoutsos says.

Art didn’t worry about changing his mind. “I didn’t even consider anywhere else,” he says.

Busy bee

Like his mother, Art is a busy bee. He chairs the Seabrook garden club, uses the on-site fitness center three to four times a week, researches his genealogy, and travels. He even bakes 1,500 cookies each Christmas to distribute to his neighbors. 

“I’m a big baker,” he says, adding that the flexible 20-meal plan included in his monthly service package suits him well. He even exchanged his dishwasher for an under-counter freezer to store baked goods and food from his garden.

Art has two 10- by 10-foot gardens at Seabrook. In one, he grows tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Last year, his crop yielded 42 pints of tomato sauce. In the other, he nurtures about 150 gladiola bulbs, which bloom into a spectacular display of color from mid-July to September. 

Art doesn’t just grow plants, he likes to look at them, too. Recently, several garden club members and other neighbors visited Grounds for Sculpture, an exhibit not far from Princeton. The trip, planned through Seabrook’s in-house transportation department, was one of many excursions throughout the year. “Those types of trips, if you take advantage of them, are certainly a real plus here,” Art says.

Keeping history alive

When he’s not baking or gardening, Art is likely researching his genealogy. 

“I’ve always been interested in genealogy. I like having stuff that was in the family,” he says. And it shows. 

He’s decorated his large Lancaster-style apartment home with gilt-framed portraits of his ancestors—all found in the original Strohmer family home in downtown Baltimore. 

“I had looked at all the [apartment] models, and this was the one I wanted to be able to keep all the things from the old house. No one throws anything away in my family,” he says.

Despite housing a few pieces of ornate furniture and the large portraits, Art’s home doesn’t feel cramped or cluttered. In fact, it feels open and quite comfortable. 

Light spills into the living room through the large picture window as well as the sunroom on the opposite side of the walk-through kitchen. Framed family photographs line the hallway to his large bedroom and office, where his cat keeps her residence and walls of windows provide lots of natural light.

His cousins, who live at Oak Crest, in Parkville, Md., have more of the ornate family furniture for safe keeping. 

Whether they chose Charlestown, Oak Crest, or Seabrook, Art has learned from family members who have gone before him: Move to an Erickson Living community when you’re young and healthy.

“I’m told I’m entirely too young to live here. I think I moved in at the right time,” he says. “I’m probably more active here than before I moved in, mainly because I lived alone in a big house. Here, you can connect with people much more easily.”