Seniors & Aging

Bellingham couple enjoys life at home in the park and on the road

Five years ago, Bob and Judy Walston sold their 2,400-square-foot home with three acres on Chuckanut Drive to their son, Rob, and bought an 1,800-square-foot manufactured home in Fairhaven. Bob and Judy have been playing backgammon nearly everyday for the past 35 years.
Five years ago, Bob and Judy Walston sold their 2,400-square-foot home with three acres on Chuckanut Drive to their son, Rob, and bought an 1,800-square-foot manufactured home in Fairhaven. Bob and Judy have been playing backgammon nearly everyday for the past 35 years. THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Judy Walston, 67, and her husband Bob Walston, 68, live in Parkway Village, just off Old Fairhaven Parkway in Bellingham.

Born: Judy and Bob were both born and raised in Bellingham.

Children: Two sons: Rob, 47, and Brian, 43.

Lived: Judy and her husband lived for 11 years in Alaska, where they owned and operated a restaurant in Soldotna, southwest of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula.

"Then, our first grandchild was born and my husband was tired of the long winters," she says.

Work: She is retired from Haskell Corp., where she was the company's payroll administrator.

Family home: Off of Chuckanut Drive.

Downsized: "We had always dreamed of buying a condo in Fairhaven, but with a motor home it just wasn't practical," Walston says. "We found a manufactured-home park that was close to our kids and on the Southside, which we love."

Keeping it in the family: "Our other home was owned by my husband's family and is very sentimental and has a lot of history," Walston says. "We wanted the house to stay in the family.

"Both of our sons wanted the home when we moved, but one son said he'd rather his brother live there than see someone else own it. It's not a grand house, but it's cozy and warm."

Haunted house: "We've always believed there was a ghost in the house," she says. "The house was originally owned by a lady who was a theater actress in Chicago. And we have newspaper articles about her. She said she was psychic.

"I had a lot of happenings there with moving furniture. The boys would wake up and say they'd seen her. A painter once even told us we had a spirit in the house."

Time to move: "We were looking ahead," Walston says. "Part of the reason is that the family house has three levels and stairs and a steep driveway. And we wanted to have a place that was secure when we travel."

Easy move: "When we moved into the house, Bob's parents left everything they didn't want. We did the same."

Parkway Village welcome: "We've met a great group of people here," Walston says. "I belong to a book club and garden club. I never had neighbors before.

"We're close to neighbors now, but we can also close the blinds and have total privacy," she says. "You can be as involved as you want to be here."

Have motor home, will travel: "When we retired we knew we wanted to RV. We've traveled to Alaska and across to Florida and back," she says.

"For our 50th anniversary in 2011, we're planning a trip to Nova Scotia."

Why a motor home? "We like having our own bedroom and cooking our own meals, and we like the people we meet along the way," Walston says. "It's like traveling in your own living room."

Camping far and near: "We own a lot along the Skagit River, past Concrete. We go up there often with the kids and go camping.

"We figure when we're too old to travel, we can still go RVing up there and enjoy our kids' company."

Busy retirement: "I play mahjong every Wednesday and I belong to book clubs. I play backgammon.

"I have a friend who tries everything and anything. She saw an ad in the paper about a drum circle and asked me to join her. It's taught by a woman who just moved here from Maine. She's fantastic."

But still working: "I still fill in at Haskell Corp. occasionally in the payroll department."

Picture perfect: "Retirement is everything I've wished for," Walston says. "We're close to the kids, close to Fairhaven, we can walk the Interurban Trail to both of our kid's houses.

"Our children, their families and our five granddaughters are a big part of our lives."


STATE INFORMATION

There are 1,413 manufactured housing communities and mobile home parks in the state, says Ken Spencer, executive director of Manufactured Housing Communities of Washington, an association of owners and managers.

The state doesn't track the number of seniors-only sites. However, 28 percent of the association's 482 member communities and parks - 136 out of 482 - are for people 55 and older. If that ratio holds true statewide, there would be 395 seniors-only communities and parks in Washington.

A state agency, the Office of Manufactured Housing, provides information to residents interested in buying their manufactured home community or mobile home park, and provides technical aid and reimbursements to residents of parks and communities that are closing.

The reach the agency, call (800) 964-0852, or go online to access.wa.gov and type "Office of Manufactured Housing" in the search bar.

To contact Manufactured Housing Communities of Washington, call (800) 345-5608 or mhcw.org.

  Comments