Resident Stories

We are blessed to be caring for and supporting the greatest generation of American pioneers and heroes. Please enjoy the resident stories we have below and then reach out to us to schedule a personal tour of our award-winning community.

Fran Dean - Married For So Long

Fran Dean was married for 58-½ years to her husband. If you’re counting at home, that’s 702 months; 3,053 weeks; 21,369 days; 30.77 million minutes.

In simpler terms, a long time.

Dean is as Texas as they come, and that’s a compliment. She was born in Athens, home of “First Mondays” 85 years ago and lived there until she got married. She and her sweetheart’s’ college years were interrupted by the Korean War, but when he returned from military action, they settled in San Antonio, home of the Alamo,  where they lived for a number of years.

Dean worked in the finance office at Lackland Air Force Base, while her husband, upon finishing his degree, went out and found employment as a social worker. He eventually took a job at the VA hospital in Dallas, the shining metroplex of North Texas, and the pair spent another 13 years before finally retiring comfortably to Bonham, which is so Texan that it’s named for one hero of the Alamo (James Bonham) who was the aide to another hero (James Fannin). As it happens, Bonham is the county seat for Fannin County.

Along the way, the pair had time for four children - two sons who graduated from Texas A&M, a daughter who earned a degree at Baylor, and another daughter who got right to work on producing some grandbabies, and gave the Deans six of them in due time.

It was the perfect life in retirement for Dean until her husband passed away 7-½ years ago and she started feeling the ravages of time without even noticing they were there.

“When he passed away, I remained in my home for another 5-½ years,” she says. “I was content to spend the rest of my life there, but I had some back surgery and it was difficult for my children, both those in state and out of state to come take care of me.”

One of the pitfalls of retiring to a small Texas town - Bonham’s population is only now reaching 10,000 - is that is also lacks the big things we need now and again like airports and medical centers. The closest to the Deans’ place were in Dallas, 70 miles away.

“We decided that I should move closer to one of the children, and we selected Houston because one of my daughters is in the area.”

Thus came Fran Dean to the Conservatory at Champions Forest in Spring, about 15 miles north of downtown Houston. And when she arrived, she was shocked to realize what she had missed most of all in previous 5-½ years.

“I found it to be a very good change all the way around, and the one thing I didn’t realize was how lonely I was,” she said. “In those previous 5-½ years, I had been invited to speak at a number of ladies’ conferences so it seemed like I was always preparing material for that rather than doing anything for myself.”

Stretching her legs at the Conservatory - quite literally - Dean found a world of possibilities stretching out in front of her, having just walked in the door from a line dancing class in time for the interview. And when she’s not socializing or exercising, she’s receiving visits from any assortment of her four children, 16 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

“I’ve made a lot of new friends, I’ve got a nice apartment, all in all it’s a very good place to be and I enjoy it very much,” Dean sums up. “They have more things to offer than what you have time for. Some of my friends back home say, ‘What do you do there all day?’ and I laugh and say everything!”

 

 

 

Jerry Albrecht - A Land Before Development

Jerry Albrecht moved to Cypress, Texas, when it was nothing but a huge expanse of forest and field, unknown to most that it would someday become a burgeoning suburb of Houston.

Hailing from the small town of Cuero, Albrecht came to Houston when he was 18 and took a job at Cameron Iron Works as a product analyst while attending night school at the University of Houston. He met his wife at Cameron and the two moved around Texas a bit - living in both San Antonio and Dallas before coming back to Houston where Albrecht finished his schooling and went into the insurance business for State Farm.

“Cypress was wild territory back then,” Albrecht recalls, “A group of us got together and formed the Northwest Chamber of Commerce. We were involved in it and worked on that and about 8-10 years later in the 1960s it was really growing. Cypress was really growing.”

Albrecht opened up his office out in Cypress on a road that didn’t have anything else on it.

“I opened my office and showed it to my wife and she said, ‘What are you going to come out here for? There are no houses, just a fancy golf course.”

Of course, Albrecht  knew better. A housing boom hit in the early 1970s as businesses and residential projects flocked to the area about 25 miles northwest of downtown Houston.

“We watched it grow and helped it grow,” Albrecht said. “Shell put in research place on Highway 6 and suddenly we had all these people from California moving in. I got friendly with some of the home builders out here and was able to supply a lot of people with home and auto insurance.”

Cypress sort of built itself. It remains unincorporate to this day - no mayor or city government so speak of other than a constable and a sheriff’s department. Thus instruments like the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club were essential in having like-minded business people get together and guide the direction of growth.

Eventually, the growth got so large that the Northwest Chamber of Commerce fragmented into representative bodies for Spring, Klein, and Cypress. Albrecht helped form the Cy-Fair Chamber of Commerce and remained on the board until just a years ago.

At age 78, he remains a vital, active member of the community, doing volunteer work, contributing to the rotary club, and more. He’s served on several bank boards and hospital boards and has a scholarship in his name at Lone Star College in Cypress.

He ran his insurance business for 30 years from 1971 to 2001, but he and his wife decided to move into a senior living community when she developed a mild case of Parkinson’s disease that required more care.

“We sold our house in Cypress and moved to the Conservancy in the Woodlands. We were there for eight months but really wanted to be closer to my son and his wife and grandson, so when there came came an opening here, we took it.”

The Albrechts have taken naturally to their life at the Conservatory at Champion Forest in Spring, a facility that likely would never have opened in the area had not for the leadership Albrecht and his fellow rotarians had provided decades earlier.

“It’s not assisted living like some people think it is, we are here as independent retirees,” Albrecht said. “We come and go, we have happy hour, last night we went to the rodeo and we had more than 200 people here. It’s a great place with great people.”

 

 

 

Joan Johnson - Keeping Up With The Ranch

A proud native of Lubbock, Texas, home of music legends Buddy Holly, Pat Green, Delbert McClinton, and Joe Ely, Joan Johnson has a terrible secret.

She once let her husband talk her into moving to Oklahoma.

As far as native Texans go, that’s a sin that’s right up there with dry rub barbecue and anything made in New York City.

To be fair, Joan’s husband William did move her to a ranch that had been in his family since 1867 and it made one heck of a retirement home for 20 years or so.

Eventually, the couple grew tired of keeping up with the ranch and moved back to the proper side of the Red River, settling in a home in northwest Houston, within shouting distance of one of their daughters, who works for the award-winning Houston Children’s Museum.

“We ranched for those years, but as we got older, me moved here because our daughter is here,” Johnson says.

After another 10 years in a residential home, Joan, 82, and William, 89, knew it was time to downsize and start relaxing. They found a perfect match in the Conservatory at Champions Forest.

“We looked around and it was the place we wanted,” Johnson said. “You have to make adjustments, but it’s been OK, it was definitely the right thing to do. The staff has been very, very good to us.”

Johnson went straight through the educational system capped by a degree in home economics from Texas Tech. From there she went to work for the Texas Agrilife Extension Service, which led her to meet William, who was working there as well.

“He was transferred to Wichita, Kansas, and I went with him,” she recalls. “I found my calling and started teaching school  in Kansas and then in Oklahoma to special needs students.”

The couple’s children have all settled across Texas as well. In addition to their daughter in Houston, Joan and William have a daughter in Fort Worth who works in agriculture and a son in Austin who is in the mortgage and home loans business.

The years have gone by, but Johnson hasn’t lost her vitality for staying busy in the slightest.

“I do line dancing, and I like to do handwork - I’ve been doing knitting, crocheting, all kinds of needlework, and sewing my whole life,” she says. William, who has been somewhat limited by physical ailments, enjoys reading, keeping up with family via the couple’s in-unit personal computer, and swap stories with other men in the complex, many of whom are veterans of the armed forces.

“It’s a good place for us,” Johnson said. “It fits the needs we have and lets us do the things we want to do. The food is great, the staff is very caring, and we really feel at home here.”