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.

Bob and Elaine Lapin - Du-wop The Way To My Heart

The story of how Bob met Elaine is as sweet as a du-wop song, as “ahh”-inspiring as the matinee you’d go see on a first date.

Chicago native Bob Lapin was in college at Indiana University shortly after World War II when he saw a girl who took his breath away.

“I was sitting in the library and I saw this girl,” Bob Lapin recalls of that fateful day in 1946. “She goes by and I turned to a friend of mine who I was sitting next to and I said, “See that girl? I’m going to marry her.”

Two weeks later, said girl came to Bob’s fraternity house and he was able to meet her and realize her name was Elaine. She had a boyfriend at the time, but Bob turned on the charm and a year later they were married.

“I’ve heard that story a thousand times,” Elaine says. “I’m still not sure it’s the truth!”

Reality or fiction, the Lapins are closing in on their 70th anniversary this fall, having spent the last three years of that marriage living at Aston Gardens at Tampa.

“We lived in a pretty good-sized house about 7-½ miles from here and we decided we wanted to choose where we were going to end up,” Bob says. “We could have gone to California to live near our daughter or back to Chicago to live near other family.”

Ultimately, the Lapins decided that the people in their everyday life were the ones to hold the most weight in the decision.

“We decided that we had been living here for 32 years, our children are wonderful, but our friends who we have things in common with are the people we’re seeing every day,” Bob explained. “Ww wanted to keep our friends. Our children were not going to live us; they come and visit us, but we felt this was more important.”

The Lapins got to Tampa through a trio of successful business practices. Bob started off in business with Elaine’s father as co-owners of a women’s clothing store in Chicago for 37 years. When the store closed down, Bob switched to the financial consulting business - “a glorified name for selling insurance” - he says.

But when Elaine read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the 10-minute oil change business, a light came on in Bob’s heads.

“We had been wanting to leave Chicago. We were 57 and 56 years old and decided that the warm weather was looking very attractive, we we came to Florida and set up a 10-minute oil change business in Largo.

They called the place “Rapid Robert’s” and people still greet Bob with that moniker. Despite all the hard work, the couple had time for two children, who eventually begot three granddaughters and then three great-grandsons.

Now Bob, 90, and 89-year-old Elaine are in a new phase of their life, one they say Aston Gardens has nailed to a tee.

“We like the scenery, we live on the lake and on the ground floor,” Elaine says. “It’s a win-win proposition for us, and Aston Gardens has provided us with the type of living that we are looking for at this stage in our lives.”

 

 

 

 

Fred Johnson & Liz Taylor - If That's Your Name, Why Change It?

They get the same question every time they meet someone new: If you’re married, why do you have different last names after all these years?

Fred Johnson usually speaks on his wife’s behalf.

“If your name was Liz Taylor, why would you ever want to change it?”

Yes Fred is married to Liz Taylor, although this one was a middle school science teacher and elementary school guidance counselor in her prime, not starring in Cleopatra and frequently getting married (eight times).

This Liz Taylor got married exactly once, to Fred, in 1968; which puts them a little more than a year out from half a century of wedded bliss. The pair are originally from the East Coast but came to Florida and got involved in the state education system.

Fred became a college dean at East Florida State College, the third-largest community college in the state, while Liz took on junior high science and elementary school guidance counselling.

The couple had a pair of daughters, who grew up to be teachers themselves, as well as three grandchildren.

When the couple began planning retirement and beyond, they did something quite unique- they approached it logically.

“We had been retired about five years or so and it seemed like everyone in town was working for us,” Fred said. “We had guys taking care of the pool and guys taking care out of the yards and everything else. It got to be a hassle instead of a joy.”

The pair lived on the eastern side of the state but was enamored with Tampa, taking several trips there for the weekend or a quick getaway.

“We were in the position to go anywhere we wanted to, and we started looking all over the state,” Fred said. “We liked Tampa more than anything else.”

At 71 years old, Fred and Liz are well aware that they are among the youngest residents living at Aston Gardens at Tampa Bay,  but they rather relish the fact.

“Everybody who is here admits people wait too long to move,” Fred said. “It’s always after a fall or a spouse dying or something. They advertise this place as carefree living, and it absolutely is.”

Still able to drive and travel like they wish, the pair now feel like they can go and do whatever without wondering who’s going to be watching over their stuff or watering their plants.

“It was too good to be true, they absolutely take care of everything,” Fred says. “They give you the time and the wherewithal to do exactly what you want to do. We take advantage of the arts and the entertainment that they offer, and we simply do whatever want to whenever we want to.”

Even as they  enjoy things, they realize their needs will change in time, but also value that Aston Gardens will change with them.

“The community offers a lot of services that we don’t take advantage of, but some day we will,” Fred says. “We live downstairs with a garage and the apartment is open to the community. There are no steps and no curbs. It’s easy access to the apartment and very safe getting in and out.”