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Resident Spotlight: Meet the Guschkes

By Sarah Sexton | Publish Date November 01, 2022

We are excited to welcome Phyllis and John Guschke to our Cedar Ridge at Kirkwood cottages and our Kirkwood by the River family! Having moved to Kirkwood from Franklin, TN, the Guschkes are both southerners at heart. Phyllis was born and raised in Memphis, TN, while John grew up in a little Tennessee town called Lawrenceburg. Although the two grew up about 3 hours apart, their life together flourished while in New Jersey. Phyllis and John met while working at Southern Bell, which is now AT&T.

“Phyllis was in the accounting office, and I was in data processing, developing programs for the billing system,” John said. “We were coworkers, and ended up working in New Jersey in the same office, so we knew each other quite a long time before we ended up getting married.”

The Guschkes are avid travelers, and noted two experiences in Italy, a trip through the rainforest of Costa Rica, and experiencing the culture and beauty of Ireland as some of their most memorable trips. Phyllis has one daughter, three grandsons, and four great-grandchildren while John has three living children and one deceased, and two grandsons. Their families live in Alabama and Mississippi.

One of the important draws to Kirkwood was to be closer to family, as two of Mr. Guschke’s sons live right outside of Birmingham. Another draw was our affiliation as a faith-centered non-profit organization. “Our church life is very important to both of us,” Mrs. Guschke shared. “In our traveling, we have visited churches around the world that are very different from ours. It was very attractive to hear that Kirkwood is a church-based foundation, and we appreciate that all denominations are welcome.”

Having already downsized from a home to an apartment, the Guschkes found it appealing to rid themselves of the hassles of home ownership and began seeking communities such as Kirkwood. “We realized we were approaching an age where we might need more assistance than what just downsizing could provide,” Mr. Guschke said. “Knowing we have my sons nearby and the levels of care should we need it is comforting, and the beautiful hillside, river, and the woods makes it that much more appealing. We don’t know of any other facility that has the woods, the various levels of care, and so many different amenities.”

You can find the Guschkes riding in their golf cart, waving at fellow residents and staff, visiting with family, and getting to know Kirkwood. They are excited to learn all of the aspects of the community, and they have already expressed how pleased they are with the programs and activities available. “You’re not a stranger or a newbie here,” Mrs. Guschke explained. “Everyone is genuinely interested in you – where you came from, what your family is like. It’s such a family atmosphere and such a special place.”

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The Residents

Our residents come from different backgrounds and bring their unique qualities, talents, and life experiences to complete the Kirkwood community. Here are just a few reflections from some individuals who call Kirkwood their home.

I fell in love with the cottage and the view from my back porch. I am excited to have a yard for Ginger, my poodle, to play in and my own garage, all within an established retirement community!

Charlotte Hamilton Current Resident

My husband and I looked at a number of places when deciding to move to a retirement community. For the most part, we found communities that said, ‘We’re going to take care of you.’ But Kirkwood was different. It wasn’t just about taking care of us. It was also about having fun, having friends, and living life to the fullest. The attitude at Kirkwood was positive and the atmosphere was comforting. We simply couldn’t resist. Without a doubt, the location was ideal. The Cahaba Room that overlooks the river, the mountains, the trails – there were just so many things about life. The community was lively. It was alive.

Alice Brooks Current Resident

We realized we were approaching an age where we might need more assistance than what just downsizing could provide. Knowing we have my sons nearby and the levels of care should we need it is comforting, and the beautiful hillside, river, and the woods makes it that much more appealing. We don’t know of any other community that has the woods, the various levels of care, and so many different amenities.

Phyllis and John Guschke Current Residents

We were moving my parents down from the Cleveland area to be near us. I looked at almost every retirement place in the Birmingham area. The second I turned into Kirkwood’s drive and drove up the hill, I knew that I’d found the perfect place for my parents to live in Alabama. In the six years that my parents have been at Kirkwood, I have always felt nothing but love and helpfulness from every staff member. Everyone is always helpful with a pleasant attitude. You can truly see and feel the family atmosphere. I’m happy that my parents can call Kirkwood their home.

Brenda Sheehan Kirkwood family member

When we learned that Cedar Ridge was being developed, that seemed to fit our needs very well. It is the ideal place for the next phase of our retirement.

Carol and Arthur Stephens Current Residents

One thing that we feel is very important here at Kirkwood by the River is the relationship that we have between the staff and the residents. They are dedicated to making our life here as safe and secure and pleasurable as possible. That goes a long way.

Fred Rogers Current Resident

The community's cottage living surrounded by a wooded, natural environment with access to future healthcare services is what attracted us to Kirkwood!

Rick and Jane Ricketts Current Residents