100 Years Brave

We were so impressed when we heard Eleanor Cunningham’s story that we had to share it! While most of us close our eyes and make a wish on our birthdays, she closed her eyes and took a leap. For her 100th birthday, the New Yorker chose to celebrate in style by skydiving above the state.

Via King 5 News

Source: King 5 News

Bravery seems to only increase each year for Eleanor, as this was in fact her third skydiving adventure—a sport she began at 90 years old. Eleanor has been athletic her entire life, having learned to ski when she was 50 and then golf at 70. With the green light from her doctor, it only made sense for this adrenaline junkie to take on skydiving.

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Source: NY Daily News

Eleanor sailed through the sky with her jump partner, and then landed smoothly and eloquently only to be embraced by her children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. She’s already planning her next jump for her 105th birthday!

Way to go Eleanor, we’re inspired by your bravery and youth! To read more about Eleanor’s incredible story, check out King 5’s coverage.

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Honoring Our Veterans

Last week marked the celebration of Veteran’s Day, a day in which we can pay tribute to the heroes among us that have served our country, as well as those currently in active duty. We are so honored and blessed to be surrounded by these incredible citizens every single day.

To recognize their service, we spent Veterans Day recognizing all of the exceptional veterans living with us in our communities. Here are just some of the celebrations that took place this year, at our communities in Green Valley Ranch, NV; Santa Maria, CA; and First Hill, WA.

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It’s Not the Years In Your Life, It’s the Life in Your Years

Our community in Lafayette, CA has a beautiful message to share, in an even more beautiful way.

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Happy Veterans Day

Today we thank all Veterans for their service to our country.

Click on the image below to see a video created by our residents in Mountlake Terrace, WA. Enjoy.

Mountlake Terrace Video

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Standing on Top of the World

What do our residents from First Hill do on a sunny but cold day in Seattle? They go up as high as they can and admire the views of course – from inside!

Top of the World

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Getting to Know…Tony Victor

Our residents are some of the most important reasons Merrill Gardens is such a special place to live. So, we’d like to highlight a few of them in the upcoming months.

First up is Tony Victor who lives at our community in Huntsville, Alabama. Tony is a veteran who served in the U.S. Air Corps beginning in 1942 as a radio operator and gunner. He was shot down, taken captive, spent a month in a military hospital under German supervision and was eventually sent to Nuremburg’s prisoner of war camp. We could tell the whole story on his behalf, but we think you’d rather hear it from him.

Tony Victor - Merrill Gardens


After finishing my Bachelors degree at La Verne College, La Verne, California, I was drafted into the service of the US Air Corps on September 13, 1942. I trained in Chicago for radio operator and gunner. I was accepted for cadet training and pilot training. I was reassigned to 833 Bomb Squadron where I was radio operator and gunner. On my 19th mission we were shot down by a German Bf109.

I parachuted from my B-17 plane near Strasburg, Germany, and landed on my lower back in a pine tree. On January 21, 1945, a snowy, bitterly cold day, I was taken captive. I was four weeks in a military hospital under German supervision due to the back injury. Afterward, I was imprisoned in a “sweat box” in Frankfort on the Main. Some time elapsed before I was moved to Nuremburg’s prisoner of war camp.

We were taken there by rail cars. While traveling at night the US Black Widow bombers and radar fighters, thinking the personnel and cargo rail cars were German, bombed us during our trip. Nightly, in Nuremburg, there were bombing flights overhead by English Sterling and Lancaster planes which were bombing the Germans in this area. German anti-aircraft fire was returned. As Patton advanced into Germany, the Germans moved us deeper into Germany to Moosburg. After about three weeks there, Patton’s army released all the prisoners of war at Moosburg.

I was flown to Camp Lucky Strike in La Havre, France for hospital care and food to bolster my malnutrition. I was discharged from the service at Fort George Wright in Washington State. I returned to California and began a new life.

I married Marllys R. Aschenbrenner in 1947 and had 3 children, Margery, Ann and Robert. After 30+ years, I retired from a career as a Psychiatric Social Worker in 1978. I settled into retirement with my wife, Marllys, and we were married 50 years before her death in 1998. At age 98, October 29, 2014 I have 5 grandchildren, and 2 great grand children.

We join Tony’s family in wishing him a very happy 98th birthday! We also want to thank Tony for his service to our country.

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Halloween Spirits Come Alive at Merrill Gardens

From community to community, Merrill Gardens residents and staff embraced the Halloween season with gusto. We saw pumpkins, witches, warlocks and everything in between. Here are some pics from around the country.

Merrill Gardens Halloween - Willow Glen


Merrill Gardens at Willow Glen

Merrill Gardens Halloween - The Patrician


Merrill Gardens at The Patrician

Merrill Gardens Halloween - Kirkland


Merrill Gardens at Kirkland

Merrill Gardens Halloween - Mountlake Terrace


Merrill Gardens at Mountlake Terrace

Merrill Gardens Halloween - First Hill


Merrill Gardens at First Hill

Merrill Gardens Halloween - Bankers Hill


Merrill Gardens at Bankers Hill

Merrill Gardens Halloween - University


Merrill Gardens at The University

Merrill Gardens Halloween - Village Green


Merrill Gardens at Village Green

Merrill Gardens Halloween - Main Office


Merrill Gardens Main Office

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Teaching the Next Generation

With more than 25 communities in multiple states, you would think Merrill Gardens President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Pettit would already have his hands full. But Bill is not a man who likes to have even a few of his fingers idle for any length of time.

Under Bill’s supervision, Merrill Gardens is leading the new Senior Living Management Program at Washington State University’s Everett Campus. Bill will coordinate on-site training experiences for the WSU students in the Merrill Gardens Mountlake Terrace Community.

It’s a fantastic story, and the Everett Herald was kind enough to feature it last week. Thanks to Jim Davis for covering this, and thanks to everyone participating in the curriculum. Take a read through The Herald’s coverage of this truly one of a kind program.

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Merrill Gardens Gives Back to the Community

We want to congratulate the warm hearts and giving spirit of Merrill Gardens of First Hill, Willow Glen and The Patrician. These three communities all participated in events to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association.

First Hill raised close to $5000 through their fundraising and participation in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Seattle, while the folks from The Patrician hit the streets of San Diego. At the same time, Willow Glen hosted their own fundraising event. It was all part of Merrill Gives Back Month. Great job guys!

There are too many great photos for one blog post, so make sure to check out the photo albums on our Facebook Page.
First Hill photos
The Patrician photos
Willow Glen photos

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A Sneak Peak at Our New Community In Lafayette

We have exciting news about another sparkling new community! Here is a sneak peek at Merrill Gardens in Lafayette, CA.

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