Siblings Reunited at Concordia

Concordia residents Richard and Carol Ann riding bikes

Happy National Siblings Day from Concordia! Siblings can play vital roles in our lives, and we have many groups of siblings across Concordia who enjoy living or working together.

A sibling duo was reunited at Concordia Village of Tampa retirement living when Richard Paxton moved in on the same floor as his sister, Carol Ann Harvester, earlier this year. While they have visited each other over the years, Richard, 76, and Carol Ann, 74, hadn’t lived together since they were growing up in St. Albans, West Virginia.

“We got along alright,” Richard said. “But sometimes –”

“Sometimes we fought like cats and dogs,” Carol Ann joked. “We were typical kids and teenagers.”

When the siblings were still young, their parents realized that both had hearing impairments.

Concordia residents Richard and Carol Ann as children
Carol Ann and Richard as children

“My sister and I have a hereditary genetic condition that affects our eyes and ears,” Richard explained. “The auditory nerve in our ears and the optic nerves behind our eyes go out, and we eventually lose hearing and eyesight.”

Both Richard and Carol Ann are now legally blind and hearing impaired. Both are deaf in one ear, but their conditions developed slowly over time. Richard worked in auto body repair and painting in West Virginia and competed in national archery competitions across the country. Carol Ann attended Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., met her late husband James and moved with him to Tampa, Florida, where she worked for the United States Postal Service as a training technician.

“Working as a training technician was great for me,” Carol Ann said. “I not only worked with deaf and hearing-impaired people, I also worked with everyone. Richard and I were both lip readers before we lost our eyesight, and training everyone helped me be better.”

When Carol Ann’s husband passed away in 2017, she knew their house was too much to maintain and began looking at retirement living communities.

Related: Fine-Tuning the Search for Retirement Living

“I checked out a lot of places in the area, but I liked it here at Concordia the best,” she said. “A lot of other senior living communities in Tampa are just surrounded by parking lots with nowhere to walk. I liked that I could go outside to walk, or just walk the hallways inside here. It’s important to get up and move.”

Related: Exercise for Healthy Aging

She moved to Concordia in January 2018, and has since become familiar with the campus and made many friends, including assisted living resident Connie Hutchinson.

“I met Connie right after I moved in,” Carol Ann said. “We’ve been friends ever since because we just clicked, and she’s one of those people who loves to help others. She uses her powerchair, and I walk behind her. People used to joke with us when we walked together; they’d say ‘Oh gosh Connie, someone’s pushing you!’ And now that Richard is here too, they say ‘She has two people pushing her now!’”

Concordia residents Richard, Carol Ann, and Connie at Concordia Village of Tampa
Richard, Carol Ann and Connie at Concordia Village of Tampa

Richard moved from a smaller assisted living community in West Virginia to Concordia in January 2023, and both siblings have enjoyed spending more time together.

“We get along much better now that we’re grown up,” Carol Ann said. “We’re older and wiser.”

Richard is now learning the layout of campus, and Carol Ann continues to take part in many activities at Concordia, including doing water aerobics, working out in the fitness center and being a part of the Resident Association Board as a delegate.

“Everyone is welcoming here,” Carol Ann said. “It’s been so nice. Everyone wants to help. I don’t even know everybody – yet they know me.”

“I can back that up,” Richard said. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve noticed that everyone always says hello to her in the hallways. All the people here are nice – the employees too. If you’ve got a problem someone will always come help you solve it.”

Both siblings are happy to be together again after living much of their lives in different states.

“I’m glad Richard is here now, because it’s working out great,” Carol Ann said. “We don’t have a lot of close family left, so I’m just happy to be here and help him when I can. We help each other.”

If you would like more information about our senior care locations in Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio or Tampa, Florida, visit our Locations Map or call our administrative headquarters at 724-352-1571.

Founded in 1881, Concordia Lutheran Ministries is a faith-based, CARF-accredited Aging Services Network and recipient of the inaugural Pennsylvania Department of Aging Excellence in Quality Care Award. As one of the largest nonprofit senior care providers in the country, the organization serves 50,000 people annually through in-home care and inpatient locations in western PA, eastern OH and Tampa, FL.

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