It was the benefits of a life plan community and health care options that initially attracted Gary Sisler and his wife to East Ridge at Cutler Bay.
The couple quickly assimilated into the community’s lifestyle. Gary found he could channel his interests in special projects that would not only appeal to him but would be of interest to other residents.
Active in commercial real estate for more than 30 years, the well-respected businessman owned and operated Sisler Realty Solutions in Miami and was involved in many local civic organizations. The company’s services included commercial real estate sales, site selection and lease negotiations.
Living at East Ridge relieved him of some of his daily caregiving responsibilities for his wife and afforded them more quality time together.
He began attending the monthly Men’s Breakfast that was organized by resident Bob Sims and enjoyed the comradery of the group which was exclusively for the community’s gentlemen. He said the breakfasts allowed men to better know other men living at East Ridge without the dynamics of their wives.
When he realized how many of the men at East Ridge were veterans, Gary decided it was important to record their stories much like those found in living history museums. He interviewed them and created videos of the former service men and women sharing their military stories. The former Army Corporal knew from his own firsthand experience how important it was to share these recollections. While they are periodically shown on the community’s in-house TV channel, in honor of Veterans Day, the interviews will be shown beginning the week of November 4. He is also organizing a community veteran’s tribute event to be held on Veterans Day.
East Ridge’s maintenance-free lifestyle affords Gary the time to channel his talents into what he enjoys and the special synergy of the community welcomes his volunteerism.
He decided he wanted to supplement the monthly activity program with a discussion group geared to local current events and hot topics of interest. When he was given the green light by the Lifestyle Department, Jib Jab was launched. For the monthly discussion group, he invites thought-provoking speakers to East Ridge and moderates the discussion. He’s invited local politicians including the newly elected Donna Shalala and local heroes such as University of Miami’s baseball coach Jim Morris. Usually, Jib Jab draws a full house as residents enjoy his banter with his speakers.
If Jib Jab didn’t keep him busy enough, Gary can be found at Three Palms Health Center leading a men’s discussion group for assisted living residents every Wednesday morning. He created “Men, Let’s Talk” and although women are not excluded, the group encourages the men living at Three Palms to get together to share their thoughts. Gary doesn’t preplan the discussion topics and is always fascinated where the conversation heads. He simply believes it’s important for men living in assisted living to have special time together.
“My goal is to have the guys leave laughing, smiling or simply acknowledge that while I may be crazy, it will be a fun hour,” he explains.
Gary is now widowed and committed to completing items on his bucket list. He isn’t letting his 84 years of age be a deterrent. He says he had always wanted to ride a Segway and not only did he ride one; he decided to purchase his own Roboscooter to ride in East Ridge with his friend, Fran Plummer.
The pair takes advantage of things available outside of East Ridge together. Often, they’ll head to SW 8th Street to Casa Juancho, their favorite Cuban restaurant and enjoy the music and dance salsa.
“Live life to its fullest” seems to be his philosophy and for Gary enjoying each day brings a smile to his face.
East Ridge is located at 19301 SW 87th Avenue in Cutler Bay. To learn more about the life plan community or to schedule a personal tour, please call (305) 256-3564 or visit www.EastRidgeatCutlerBay.com.