Where Old Friends Gather & New Friends Meet!

retirement center

By Alexander Germanis


As the heat of summer gives way to the cooler evenings of autumn, we tend to think of the fall as merely a conclusion of sorts. It’s the end of the growing season, an end to the vacationing period, and the nearing finale of another year.

But the fall is truly just another step in a gradual cycle. The verdancy of summer blends with the golden hues of fall, and the chillier breezes presage a season of change—one familiar yet still full of unseen possibilities.

Residents of Brandon Wood Retirement Center find their autumns to be a cornucopia of both the familiar and novel as well. With the shifting seasons come untapped experiences, relived memories, a rekindling of companionships old, and the forging of friendships new.

Aging Successfully

No one can stop the clock from ticking or the seasons from changing. The reality of life is that we all must age. The key is to do so in a graceful, healthy manner. Brandon Wood’s Community Liaison calls that “successful aging.”

“Part of successful aging is a healthy diet and lifestyle,” the Community Liaison outlines. “Brandon Wood offers healthy meals daily, and recreational activities to maintain an active lifestyle.”

Brandon Wood and the community of Morton provide many ways to support such a lifestyle. With the approaching fall comes the Pumpkin Festival, at which Brandon Wood sponsors Senior Appreciation Day every year.

With Grandparents’ Day on September 11, the community will welcome the children and grandchildren of residents so families can maintain those connections so vital to leading a healthy and happy life. Plus, every week, residents can enjoy activities like baking class, exercise class, live music, Bible study, in-town shopping, Bingo, Central IL Banjo Club, and more.

Resident Gwen cites the activities as major reasons why she chose to call Brandon Wood home. “There’s lots to do here,” Gwen shares. “I love having a social life again and participating in all the recreational activities. Life is wonderful living at Brandon Wood.”

A cheerful environment plays a huge role as well, as the Community Laisison points out: “Part of healthy aging is creating the correct environment and putting supports in place that allow you to meet your ongoing physical and emotional needs.”

Resident Mary divulges that she and her husband initially chose Brandon Wood over other independent living communities specifically because they felt at home. “They had toured other retirement communities that seemed dark and cold, along with being much more expensive,” Kaye says. “Their children no longer worry about them living alone; they have peace of mind when they go away.”

Successful aging can take place anywhere, however. “Here are some tips for aging in place,” Kaye says. “Decide where you want to live; choose a safe community setting. Adapt your home: add grab bars, slip resistant mats, ramps, etc. Explore technology solutions such as fall alert buttons and voice command devices. And consider a companion or hiring Home Health. We have an agency that offers services.”

Neighborhoods May Change…

Anyone who has traveled around the sun a few dozen times has witnessed more than their share of change. But like the shifting of the seasons, sometimes changes are simply bringing us around full circle.

In the 1940s, Phil Hauter decided Morton deserved a nice hotel. Promises from the State of Illinois that an interstate would soon exit on Jefferson Street led Phil and his brothers to purchase land there on which they built their establishment.

Phil’s nephew, Ed Hauter, recalls his uncle’s entrepreneurial spirit. “Uncle Phil ran everything,” he remembers. “He had a putt-putt course in the 1930s and started the first movie theater in Morton. He then put up a nice one-story motel—separated into two sections—called the Towne House Motel.”

Adding a restaurant called the Red Bud and a mini-mall, Hauter expanded the area into a busy destination. “Witzig’s had a clothing shop where the laundry now is, and my wife, Shirley (Witzig) Hauter, opened up three shops in the 70s: a music box shop, a Christmas shop, and a bell shop,” Ed shares.

Although all those shops have been replaced by apartments and the motel has vanished, Ed and his wife have witnessed a second life spring from the same ground that once housed their past. Brandon Wood stands there—a home to many, including Ed and Shirley, as of this September. “Now it’s the home to many wonderful people,” Ed says, “whom my wife and I want to get to know in the future days.”

…But Good Neighbors Stay the Same

No matter how many times a neighborhood may change, it’s the quality of the neighbors who call it home that makes it endure.

New neighbors can quickly mean new friendships at Brandon Wood, as Brandon Wood Director Kaye Strauch can attest. A new resident named Sharon just moved in with her dog, Angel. “Sharon has a very friendly and outgoing personality,” says Kaye, “just delightful to be around.”

As Sharon has not retired yet, her new friend helps dog sit while Sharon is gone at work. “I see Sharon and her friend together in the courtyard, enjoying one another’s company, conversing, and walking Angel,” adds Kaye. “It is heartwarming to see new friendships develop and grow within the community.”

In some cases, those friendships have lived nearly as long as the residents themselves. When residents Gwen and John first toured Brandon Wood, they saw an old classmate from school, eating dinner in the dining room. Although 50 years had passed, they were together again.

Brandon Wood served as a reuniting neighborhood for Gwen and her lifelong friend Lila as well.

Attending high school and eating lunch together every day was just the start of their enduring friendship. As each married, they lived in the same neighborhood, started families at the same time, and were members of Home Extension for over 50 years. “Now they are living in the same community again, enjoying an old friendship being rekindled,” Kaye says.

“I really do like living at Brandon Wood,” Lila adds. “I appreciate the cleanliness, good food, activities, walking in the courtyard, and the friendships.”

Welcome Home

Like its residents, Brandon Wood Retirement Center has seen a lot of change, a lot of faces, and experienced a great deal during its life. But whether it is seen as an old friend welcoming you back or a new friend inviting you to join in, Brandon Wood is the place to call home.


Brandon Wood Retirement Center is located at 730 West Jefferson Street in Morton, Illinois. Please set a time to take a tour of our home by calling us at (309) 263-7341 or visiting us on the web at www.brandonwoodretirementcommunity.com.


For additional informative and inspirational articles, visit 50 Plus News and Views Greater Peoria Area online edition today.

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