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North Hills Monthly

Family bonds are strong at UPMC Senior Communities

Jan 01, 2018 02:02PM ● By North Hills Monthly Magazine

Sisters Mary Jane Pearson and Rose Marie Laverty

Maintaining close family relationships is an important aspect of UPMC Senior Communities’ commitment to the mission of improving and enriching the lives of its residents. Meet some families whose roots run deep throughout these communities.

Together again

As the expression goes, “Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.” And the garden is blooming at Strabane Trails Village because the three Paxton sisters are back together again.

The sisters, Marjorie Meneely, 91, Doris Riggle, 89, and Isabelle Anderson, 87, are incredibly grateful to have each other.  “I feel very blessed to be at Strabane Trails with my sisters,” Marjorie said. 

“We see each other or speak on the phone every day,” added Isabelle.

Inseparable growing up on the Paxton family farm just five miles down the road in Houston, PA, the sisters credit their parents for fostering a close-knit family. “We did chores together, sang together, double and triple dated, and married within a year of each other,” the sisters recalled happily.

Doris led the way back when she and her husband moved to Strabane Trails Village, UPMC Senior Communities’ independent living facility in Washington, PA, in 2008. “We wanted to give up the big house and enjoy people and activities,” she said. “It’s lovely here and close to our neighborhood and convenient to everything.” Isabelle followed in 2009, and Marjorie arrived in 2012. 

It was only natural that Doris set the next part of their lives in motion, according to “baby” sister Isabelle who noted, “She was always the ringleader. Always the more adventurous one; where she led, we followed.”

Separated by marriage, jobs and raising families, the sisters lived apart for more than half a century to come full circle and to be together again at Strabane Trails. Doris said, “We have each other and there’s always people around, things to do, and the care is the very best.”

The love between a mother and daughter is forever

Catherine Balestrieri, 87, and her daughter Rosalia, 57, are enjoying life together at Hampton Fields, UPMC Senior Communities’ independent living facility in Allison Park, and it’s easy to see the strong bond of love between mother and daughter.

“I was looking for a place where I could settle with my daughter and give up home maintenance,” Catherine said. “Hampton Fields offered a beautiful and safe place with nice apartments, and it’s close to all my children. It’s a huge comfort to me that my daughter is here with me.”

Catherine likes having so many amenities. “There is entertainment and games, great food, movie screenings, beautiful outdoor areas and a chapel where we can attend mass,” she said.

Rosalia enjoys games in the activities room. “I don’t mind if I win or lose,” she said, “I just like playing games with friends.”

They share a two-bedroom apartment and like the roomy space. “We each have our own privacy and feel well cared for here at Hampton Fields,” Catherine described. “Rosalia once pulled the safety cord for me when I needed help. It turned out to be a minor nosebleed but it’s reassuring to know that good care and an accommodating staff are right here.”

Following in my parents’ footsteps

Peg and Joe Rychcik have been enjoying retirement at Sherwood Oaks for the past two years, but they’ve known about Sherwood Oaks, UPMC Senior Communities’ life care community in Cranberry Township, for a long time. Peg’s parents, Ralph and Louise Allen, made Sherwood Oaks their home in 1985.

“My parents wanted a life care community, and they did their research,” Peg explained. “They loved the beautiful setting and small-town feeling. It offered comfortable amenities and engaging activities along with high-quality health care. At the time of my father’s death in 2013, he had enjoyed 28 wonderful years at Sherwood Oaks.”

The Rychciks traveled and lived in many different places across the U.S. while Joe served as a Presbyterian pastor. They came back home to visit Peg’s parents often. “Our two sons practically grew up here at Sherwood Oaks,” Joe said. “They had many wonderful experiences with their grandparents, including making use of the lake, game room, and swimming pool. And we made lasting friendships with many of the residents and staff.”

It’s no surprise that Peg and Joe chose Sherwood Oaks for their own retirement. The Rychciks agreed, “It was a gift to see how happy our parents were here, and we wanted to pass that peace of mind to our sons, too.”

Twin sisters and best friends

Rose Marie Laverty and Mary Jane Pearson, 87, are identical twins and best friends who have cheerfully reunited at Hampton Fields. They are mirror images of one another and dress in matching outfits. “We’ve always been close and dressed alike, and we still do,” laughed Rose Marie.

Originally the Tegethoff twins, the girls began singing and dancing at age six. They performed for their dancing studio for many years and as adults formed a group of entertainers who performed music and dance shows for area senior homes.

“I knew a lot about senior communities from performing at them,” Rose Marie explained, “and I chose Hampton Fields. I wanted to live independently from my children, and I liked the idea of comfort and companionship.” After the loss of her husband, Mary Jane soon followed and joined her sister.

The sisters have a closeness that only twins seem to share. They married best friends in a double wedding ceremony and honeymooned together in their ancestral city of Vienna, Austria.

Thrilled to be together, the sisters agreed, “Hampton Fields is beautiful and newly remodeled. The staff is filled with the most pleasant people around, and we especially enjoy the musical entertainment.”

UPMC Senior Communities offers independent living, personal care, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing and rehabilitation. Recently, UPMC Senior Communities has added five facilities to their high-quality options in affordable, comfortable senior living, including Asbury Place in Mt. Lebanon, Avalon Place in Lawrence County, and Avalon Springs Place, Jameson Care Center and Jameson Place in Mercer. 

Now operating 23 senior living communities across 19 campuses in western Pennsylvania, UPMC Senior Communities is home to more than 2,900 residents. For more information or to schedule a tour at any of its campuses, call 1-800-324-5523, or visit