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Resident Spotlight: Bill & Esther R.

Portrait of Kensington Park Independent Living residents Bill and EstherBill and Esther R. arrived at Kensington Park from Buffalo, New York, where the cross street they lived on was Kensington Avenue! No doubt, their relocation to Kensington Park was meant to be.

Esther met this young man, Bill, when a friend told her about a guy who provided rides to work for $1.00. So, she, along with three others, carpooled to work in those “pre-Uber” days. They dated (their first, a quiet dinner for two), and then married and started a family. Four children and 60 years later, and the rest, as they say, is history.

After going to college and earning her B.A., Esther became, and remains, an activist for peace and women’s rights. In the 1980s she worked at the offices of the Catholic Diocese of Washington, D.C., where she worked on women’s issues and domestic violence programs. She joined with others to establish and lead a local chapter of WAND (Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament). Her passion for, and interest in, these issues continues to this day as she keeps up with politics and her favorite causes. Esther loves to read and knit, though she hasn’t yet picked up any of her four unfinished projects since moving to Kensington Park! Esther once enjoyed cooking, but now delights in the culinary talents of her son Michael and daughter-in-law Tamar, who drop by to visit and whip up a delicious dish each week.

Bill went to school at Canisius College, in Buffalo, New York, where he earned his B.A. He obtained his Ph.D. in engineering from Cornell University. Bill’s career began as a research engineer at Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory. He then spent the second half of his career as a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Bill’s passion (besides Esther) is genealogy, and he and son Michael have spent many hours immersed in research. They currently have over 1,900 ancestors’ names collected. Bill’s unique interest in the aerodynamics of a football led him to write several papers on the “Hail Mary” pass. In fact, he might well have had an alternative career as a professional football coach!

The family gathers each year at their treasured cottage at Six Mile Lake in the District of Muskoka on Georgian Bay, 90 miles north of Toronto. It is there in a small cottage community that the family gets back to basics; besides the many water sports, time is spent playing games, storytelling, cooking, and enjoying one another. Esther believes these gatherings are essential to her family’s life and, with the close living quarters, she says, “you pray for good weather each year.”

When making the decision to leave Buffalo to live closer to her family, Esther and Bill considered the location carefully. They wanted it to be easy to get to and equal distance for the children and grandchildren. Kensington Park checked all of their boxes for a future home, and we are so happy they chose us! It has taken more than a year for them to acclimate to their new home and to community living, to learn the area and settle into a new routine. Esther, however, was open to change. She says, “You have to be, as nothing stays the same. And your life’s ‘new normal’ gets smaller and smaller. It does take a village, even in Independent Living.” Bill is grateful for the life he has and says:

“You have to be lucky. So much just happens anyway.”

Esther and Bill are truly a “Rae’ of sunshine for our Kensington Park Highlands Family.