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Breathing new life into an old career

Neighbors share talents to benefit community

Created date

June 23rd, 2016
Bob Williams, a former TV and radio producer, lends his professional communications experience to Fox Run’s Resident Advisory Council.

Bob Williams, a former TV and radio producer, lends his professional communications experience to Fox Run’s Resident Advisory Council.

Retirement isn’t just a good time to pursue new hobbies. For many, it can be a chance to breathe new life into professional skills.

Bob Williams uses his experience in communication to serve his community at Fox Run, the Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich. As a newly elected member of Fox Run’s Resident Advisory Council (RAC), he plays an important and influential role as a liaison between residents and staff on the Resident Life Committee.

“It is my obligation as part of this community to share my talents,” Bob says. “My professional field has been communication, and since large organizations can always improve communication, and it is a doable thing, I felt a need to make a contribution.” 

Spearheading a new project

Putting his communications experience to good use, Bob has undertaken the important project of updating the RAC’s bylaws and handbook to reflect the ways that the community has evolved in the more than ten years since it opened. 

Bob worked as a producer, and sometimes director, at several Detroit radio and TV stations, including WJBK-TV (CBS), WTVS (Detroit Public Television) and WDET (Detroit Public Radio) and as a technical person at WXYZ-TV (ABC).

He and his wife Diane moved to New York the day after they got married, and Bob continued working as a producer and director. He went on to become a television and radio professor and was head of the department at Brooklyn College. At one point, he took a leave from teaching to work in Zambia on a State Department project doing health education via radio. 

When they retired, Bob and Diane decided to move back to Michigan to be near family. For a number of years, they traveled back and forth to their condo in Florida, and Bob says they always presumed they’d move there permanently at some point. 

But plans changed when Bob’s sister, who worked at Fox Run, invited them to visit the Erickson Living community in Novi, Mich. 

“Diane is very much a people person and was so impressed that everybody said hello to her in the hallways, and she said, ‘I want to move there,’” Bob recalls. “With the heated hallways [that connectthe buildings on campus], I said, ‘Okay, I can pretend it is Florida.’”

Rewarding decision

Bob and Diane’s decision to move to Fox Run almost eight years ago has turned out to be a very good one. They both have found meaningful and rewarding activities on campus. 

Diane has been involved with the ladies’ lunch group, the Mental Maintenance Club, and the Intermissions group. 

For his part, Bob not surprisingly gravitated toward the community’s on-site television studio, where residents produce a variety of shows for the in-house TV station.

A couple of years ago, they decided that Diane would benefit from a higher level of care. But that didn’t mean the couple had to make a move to a new community. Fox Run has a continuing care neighborhood that offers memory care on campus.

Bob says Diane was one of the first people to move to the memory care unit. Because she is located on the same campus, Bob can visit her any time. The couple has lunch together every day, and while Diane receives the care she needs, Bob has the support of friends and enjoys rewarding hobbies.

“Every day she says, ‘Aren’t we lucky? I am so happy here,’ and there’s always a smile on her face,” Bob says. “You can’t believe what a difference it’s made for us.”