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Published: May 9, 2024

Eileen in Ireland

Kendal at Oberlin is home to more than 300 men and women in their 60s and well beyond. They come from near (Oberlin and Cleveland) and far (Hawaii, Canada and elsewhere). The residents share many common values, such as sustainability and lifelong learning, and many have ties to Oberlin College. But each resident has his or her own unique story.

Meet Eileen Beekman.When Eileen Beekman decided she was ready to move to a life plan community she didn’t have to look far. For two decades she had been a frequent visitor at Kendal, where her mother Frampie Ailey lived until 2017.

“All those years she was so happy here, so happy with the care her husband received in the care center and so happy with all the intellectual stimulation,” Eileen says.

Plus, over the years Eileen met tons of residents who often shared their stories about moving to Kendal and were equally content.

“I didn’t have to do any research because they all did. I always felt so peaceful when imagined living here and decided this is where I’m going,” Eileen says.

While the move in September was far from her home in Atlanta, it was a move back to her native state. She grew up in Ashtabula and attended Ohio Northern University (until transferring to University of Bridgeport CT) and an added bonus - she still has family and friends nearby.

“While I was leaving family and friends in Atlanta, I was actually moving toward so many people I care about,” she says.

On the move at Kendal

Biking, swimming, pickle ball and golf are part of Eileen’s active life. She used to play tennis competitively and may check out the Kendal clay courts when they open this summer.

In April she organized a monthlong “Swim for Parkinson’s” event at Kendal to support Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month. In all, 21 Kendal staff and residents swam a total of 12,309 lengths of the Kendal pool – that’s 139.8 miles - with many sending pledge contributions to a Parkinson’s-related nonprofit, such as American Parkinson Disease Association, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and In Motion Parkinson’s Center in Beechwood, Ohio.

“I have no clue how much was raised, but it was a very fun event for everyone,” says Eileen

She now leads a monthly Parkinson’s Disease support group for Kendal residents.

In Atlanta Eileen was involved in a community choir and enjoys the Kendal Choir, which is gearing up to sing in the annual Fourth of July celebration.

And outside of Kendal

Eileen is an avid traveler – this month she’s headed to Amsterdam for a hiking and barge trip, her fifth Road Scholar trip. She picks trips that include interesting terrain for hiking or biking. She’s been to Ireland, pictured here, Costa Rica, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and closer to home Oregon and Virginia. Up next is possibly a trip to Portugal.

Meanwhile, she’s enjoying exploring cities and parks around Oberlin, such as Vermilion and Aurora, where her brother and sister-in-law live. She does miss the hills of Georgia but figures the flat terrain will make for easier bike riding.

Eileen’s mother and stepfather Robert Ailey along with 180 men and women who moved to Kendal during the fall of 1993 are called “founders.” Eileen’s brother and his wife are on the Wait List so at some point they might be joining Eileen at a retirement community so special to the entire family.

“The other day I thought, I’m here for the rest of my life, and more than anything that is a comforting thought,” she says.


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Author Molly Kavanaugh 2020In the past, Molly Kavanaugh frequently wrote about Kendal at Oberlin for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where she was a reporter for 16 years. Now we are happy to have her writing for the Kendal at Oberlin Community.

About Kendal at Oberlin: Kendal is a nonprofit life plan community serving older adults in northeast Ohio. Located about one mile from Oberlin College and Conservatory, and about a 40 minute drive from downtown Cleveland, Kendal offers a vibrant resident-led lifestyle with access to music, art and lifelong learning.