Meaningful Moments at Quincy Village: How One Resident Chooses to Embrace Older Age
By now, you've all heard the new buzzword being thrown about by gerontologists and those working in aging services—successful aging. But what does it mean; what does it really look like? By definition, successful aging refers to the physical, mental, and social well-being of older age. In fact, many of the issues we face as we age are due to an accumulation of one or all of these factors. The good news is we don't have to let the aging process dictate how we choose to enjoy the second half of our lives.
To stay active and young—to truly demonstrate what successful aging is and looks like—it's as simple as changing our mindset. Instead of thinking you can't; start thinking you can! This apllies to every aspect of living.
One resident at the Presbyterian Senior Living community of Quincy Village is doing just that. He's decided to not let the aging process slow him down. As an involved member of his community, Bill Hammaker is driven by his hobbies, love for music, and creative giftings. He understands what successful aging really means; and as a resident of Quincy Village, embraces older age. With the support of his community, Bill is able to continue doing the things he loves—spreading joy and aging successfully. Written by fellow resident, Bob Davis, Bill Hammaker's story is featured below.
Next to marrying Phyllis Price, the “best looking girl” at Hollidaysburg High School in Pennsylvania, Bill Hammaker’s greatest excitement was in finding salvation at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. That’s where his friend “Jim” Kennedy preached to 5,000 worshippers in the house and gazillions more on worldwide television for decades. “I’d been a churchgoer all my life,” said Bill who had seen to it that he, his wife, and their four kids were in church every week—even blessing everybody with his voice and brass instrument all those years.
“All those years,” he said, acknowledging that he was in his 40s before he realized that Jesus was the way to eternal life. “I couldn’t have told you until then that, yes, I’m going to heaven when I die.” Now he and Phyllis, the famous toboggan knitter who has knitted more than 2,000 hats and her needles are still clicking, find their spiritual family at Five Forks Brethren in Christ Church. Getting from Coral Ridge in Fort Lauderdale, FL to Quincy Village took several steps, which we’ll come back to.
When Bill broke his right arm and had to skip his senior season of playing in the band for the Hollidaysburg Golden Tiger football team, he “flipped the trombone over and played left-handed.” Hold that Tiger! Next he got into the 28th Division Army Band in Altoona, but barely cleared his spit valve before the band was shipped to Germany in 1950. “I was fortunate not to have to be in the line of fire,” he said of the Korean action underway. He remembers the still gaping wounds of World War II devastation, five years later, and the locals’ hunger for the spare pounds of coffee the Yanks were issued every month.
Back in Blair County, he went to work for his father-in-law at a poultry processing plant, staying 12 years, before moving to Florida and helping to bail out a brother-in-law’s struggling electrical business. On his solo-scouting trip to Fort Lauderdale, FL, he spots this big, beautiful church. It was Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Sitting in the pew one Sunday morning, he says to himself— kind of cocky—“Wow, I can help that choir!”
The next week he showed up for choir practice, uninvited. They embraced him; and eventually, so did the Truth. With three of his sons joining him, they grew up in the choir. One of the boys is now a software success and an ace trumpeter; another has a master’s degree in choral conducting, a profession that’s vanishing in today’s wave of guitar-driven praise bands.
Once the Hammakers succeeded at the small electric motor shop and raised a little capital, they bought a mountain retreat near Burnsville, NC. When Bill turned 62, they sold the business that kept pumps purring in swimming pools and golf course irrigation systems—and in one memorable resurrection, the Coral Ridge pipe organ blower.
Splitting time between South Florida and the Great Smokies, Bill and Phyllis commuted for several years in a fifth-wheel trailer. In doing so, they discovered the joys of gardening, including hydroponics. Beans were their specialty. But anyone who saw Bill’s raised garden, at Quincy Village last summer, would have sworn it would have been tomatoes and cucumbers.
Encroaching immobility drove Bill and Phyllis to bow to their children’s concerns that they were too isolated in North Carolina; they should be close enough to be rescued if necessary. “How about Cleveland?” suggested their son-in-law. But he and their daughter, by then retired from Taneytown, MD to Littlestown, PA, explored the options and brought their parents to Quincy Village, an hour’s drive away from where they reside. “We’ve been blessed in so many ways,” said Bill, affirming their daughter’s recommendation.
Scooting around on a power chair for more than a decade, Bill’s hobbies—besides gardening and music, in which he plays the euphonium with the village musicians—include desktop publishing. The signs he creates, which can be seen displayed in Minnich Manor, promote coming events. Hold that Tiger!
About Presbyterian Senior Living
Presbyterian Senior Living is a not-for-profit organization, fulfilling its charitable purpose and mission by providing high quality retirement choices, healthcare services and affordable residential living options for people 55 and older for more than 85 years. Headquartered in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Senior Living provides services to approximately 6,000 seniors in 30 locations in the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.