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Best friends for 46 years both choose Maris Grove

Created date

July 10th, 2017
Best friends Ralph Gioffre (left) and Roger Thomson have known each other for decades and enjoy hanging out together at Maris Grove.

Best friends Ralph Gioffre (left) and Roger Thomson have known each other for decades and enjoy hanging out together at Maris Grove.

Maris Grove, Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa., boasts a healthy contingent of former Wilmington, Del., residents, many of whom retired from DuPont. 

But best friends and former golfing buddies Roger Thomson and Ralph Gioffre defy that stereotype. 

Roger is a retired Delaware State trooper. Ralph is the barber who cut Roger’s hair for 46 years, from Roger’s rookie year on the force until Ralph’s retirement two years ago.

They both found Maris Grove to be the ideal place to spend their retirement.

Moving ahead

Ralph’s older brother and sister-in-law influenced the Gioffres’ move to Maris Grove. They’d long planned to live there. “But they were never ready,” says Ralph. After one became ill, they didn’t make the move. Ralph’s brother told Ralph not to wait.

So Ralph and his wife Audrey began visiting retirement communities. Maris Grove was close to their Wilmington neighborhood, was in their price range, and offered the best value. They especially liked its 90% refundable entrance deposit (all the details are in the Residence and Care Agreement).

What helped them decide was when, on a return visit to Maris Grove, Ralph ran into a former customer who lived there. “Best decision I ever made,” the man said. Other friends who lived there said the same thing.  

After Ralph and Audrey moved in last year, they changed their doctors to Maris Grove staff physicians who practice in the on-site medical center. They also use Erickson Advantage, a Medicare Advantage plan available exclusively to residents of Erickson Living retirement communities.

‘That’s what I like’

Ralph immediately plunged into campus life. He and Audrey square dance, and they play bridge as often as they can. He’s joined the shuffleboard and bocce teams, the Italian-American Club, and does water aerobics. “That’s what I like,” Ralph says, “a lot of activities.”

When he isn’t out and about, the couple’s two-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath apartment home is a comfortable place to relax. 

The extended counter in the home’s well-equipped kitchen provides ample space when Ralph gets the urge to cook. A few months ago, the Gioffres hosted three of their children to ravioli with Ralph’s authentic pasta sauce. Ralph’s father emigrated from Calabria, so he knows his way around an Italian kitchen.

For their part, Roger and his wife Ruth favor the cooked-to-order Signature Dining experience at Maris Grove’s four restaurants. 

“Ruth and I love the food,” Roger says. “We go to the Millstone for Sunday brunch, and we enjoy going to the Blue Sky Lounge and chatting with other residents before dinner. We’ve met so many nice people.”

Because the Thomsons and Gioffres both live in Maris Grove’s Cardinal neighborhood, they can often be found hobnobbing in the lounge.

‘What were we waiting for?’

With home maintenance behind them, at Maris Grove the Thomsons now have time for reading, Monday night movies, and they wouldn’t miss the Tuesday night opera videos in Maris Grove’s Cardinal Theater. 

Roger also focuses on fitness. “I love Maris Grove’s fitness center,” he says.

A former high school athlete, he’s also a former marathoner, including ten Boston marathons, and had to stay fit as a trooper. 

Roger taught tai chi for 16 years in the University of Delaware’s OSHER program. Now he teaches it at Maris Grove.

The Thomsons hadn’t really planned to move when, as priority list members, they arranged through Maris Grove’s sales office to have dinner on campus with resident hosts. 

After a thoroughly enjoyable evening, “We went home and wondered what we were waiting for,” Roger says. “Maris Grove was very close to our neighborhood, we could afford it, and we liked it.

“We weren’t getting any younger,” he adds, “so we were planning for the future.”

They found an available apartment style immediately, sold their house in 15 days after listing with a Maris Grove-preferred real estate agent, and used a preferred mover who did an excellent job. Almost before they knew it, the Thomsons had a new address. 

 As you’d expect, Roger scrutinized Maris Grove’s security. “Security is great here,” he says. “The team are all trained EMTs, and the sidewalks and parking lots are well lit. People walk their dogs at night and feel very safe.”

The Thomsons’ son inadvertently tested the security when, before his parents moved, he decided to see Maris Grove for himself. “They wouldn’t let him in,” says Roger. “He was stopped at the entrance gate.” 

Now he’s a welcome visitor who comes to Maris Grove every week for dinner with his parents.