Fine Art

Artistic residents flourish at retirement community.

For more than 34 years, Dolores Buffington lived out her dream of being an elementary school teacher. Seventeen of those years were at a Christian school in Clearwater. Not once during all of those years did she feel like she was working for a living.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Dolores Buffington

“I pursued teaching since I was a little girl and never regretted it,” Dolores says. “I think the thing I loved most about it was the children. It was a

pleasure to make teaching fun and exciting for them. That was my goal, to make them like school.”

Dolores, an 84-year-old who grew up just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, liked teaching so much that for many years she also taught Sunday school as well as piano. She learned to tickle the ivories when she was a child.

“I took piano lessons as a child and played the piano and the organ,” she proudly proclaims. “One of my summer jobs in college was playing the pipe organ for many different churches so the church organists could take their vacations. That was a fun time.”

Shortly after retiring several years ago, Dolores turned the teaching over to someone else and became a student herself yet again. This time, she focused on the art world – with one particular art form in mind.

“I’ve always wanted to paint. After I retired, I took painting lessons from different instructors and found that I really enjoyed that,” explains Dolores.

Along with flower design, painting is one of the many art forms this renaissance woman has practiced during her life, which took a dramatic turn last October when she fell and broke her ankle.

“My husband passed away twelve years ago, and after my fall, my son and his wife were there morning and evening to help take care of me, but I began to think, I don’t know what’s ahead,” Dolores recalls.

“I knew about Concordia Village of Tampa because I’d been there a few times before to visit friends from church. So, in January, after I was feeling better, I came over for an interview and a tour.

“I liked what I saw, moved in on June 11th, and I haven’t been sorry for a minute. Everybody is so friendly and welcoming. There’s always someone to talk to and I value that.”

Part of the Family

Concordia Village of Tampa is part of Concordia Lutheran Ministries, which was established in 1881. Concordia Lutheran Ministries began in Western Pennsylvania as an orphanage and expanded into senior care in the 1950s.

“We currently operate fifteen senior living communities, most of which are in Western Pennsylvania,” reports Brian Hortert, chief operating officer at Concordia Village of Tampa. “There’s also a community in Akron, Ohio and now Concordia Village of Tampa in Florida.

“There’s always someone to talk to. I value that.” – Dolores

“Concordia Village of Tampa offers independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term nursing care and short-term rehabilitation. In addition, Concordia Lutheran Ministries operates homecare, hospice, medical equipment services and pharmacy services, primarily in Western Pennsylvania.”

As COO, Brian oversees all operations of the Tampa campus. He stresses, “When it comes to retirement living, there are many factors seniors must consider before deciding which community is right for them. When people come to Concordia Village of Tampa, they become part of our family.”

Good Move

Like Dolores, Virginia Rhan Halloway, 87, is a widow with a teaching background and a love for art.

“I grew up an only child, and because I was alone without any siblings, I had to learn to find things to do alone,’’ Virginia says. “One of the things I learned to do was play the piano. I later became a music teacher and a professional piano player. I also had a studio where I taught both art and music.”

Virginia’s passion for music and art is second only to her passion for her husband, a former military colonel who died four years ago after he served as a city councilman in Temple Terrace for eight years.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Virginia Rhan Halloway

“We were happily married for thirty years,” she proudly reports. “I decided that the home we cherished and loved was getting too much for me to take care of, so I thought I needed to move.”

In a positive spirit of love and family, her choice for a new home was Concordia Village of Tampa.

“My mother lived here for about eight years starting at the age of ninety,” Virginia says, “so I moved here on the week of the day of love, Valentine’s Day 2019. I fell in love with my apartment right away, and it’s been an ongoing affair ever since.”

Like Dolores, Virginia is an artist-in-residence at Concordia Village of Tampa, where she is a member of the community’s art club.

“We meet for a couple of hours each Tuesday,” she says. “They put up a still life, and we try to recreate it ourselves. Some of the ladies are not really artists; they just like to color. But it’s a Let’s-get-together-and-do-what-we-want-to-do type of thing.”

Virginia is one of the more accomplished artists in the club. Her talent is so vast that she won a Best of Show award from the Southeastern Watercolor Society, a local art club.

“You get to be signature members for winning awards, and then you get to be published in magazines,” says Virginia, whose artwork is displayed prominently at Concordia Village of Tampa.

“I’ve got pictures in the hallways; I’ve got pictures all over my room,” Virginia states. “I’ve got lots of pictures that I sold in Temple Terrace and downtown Tampa.”

Like Virginia, Dolores has not only decorated the walls of her apartment at Concordia Village of Tampa with her artwork, she has also enthusiastically proclaimed her zest for the community and its amenities.

“I love the security here, the dining rooms and the people,” she enthuses. “Everyone is so lovely.”

“One thing I like about this place is that you can pick out a lifestyle that you want and it’s flexible,” Virginia says. “They have done everything they could for me; it’s wonderful. Coming to Concordia Village of Tampa was a good move for me. I’m very happy here.”

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    • Concordia Village of Tampa

      When it comes to senior living in Tampa, there are many factors to consider before deciding which location is right for you and your family. At Concordia Village of Tampa – which joined the Concordia family in May 2018 – their focus is on provi... Read More