August and Irene Keller happily upgraded their lives when they downsized their home.
The 90-year-olds “bit the bullet” and moved back to North Dakota after decades in Plano, Texas, to be closer to family and to have better access to medical care. August was diagnosed with macular degeneration. Plus, the time just felt right.
“We wanted to move back two years ago but because of COVID, we couldn’t do it,” August said. They had a chance to scope out the upper Midwest in 2021 during a family reunion at Breezy Point in Minnesota that gathered more than 50 loved ones. That experience moved the needle forward even more, and afterwards August and Irene realized they truly missed being around family.
“For us, at this stage in our lives the important things for us are our memories and being with family,” August said. “So we bit the bullet.”
The couple moved to Eventide Sheyenne Crossings on April 1, 2022.
Take it or leave it
Before they moved, though, they had to reduce 32 years of belongings from their 3,000-sq.-ft. Texas home down to their most cherished keepsakes and necessities, as many as would fit into their current beautiful 1,000-sq.-ft. 2-bedroom apartment suite at Eventide Sheyenne Crossings.
Much of their most cherished possessions are items August built himself, like Irene’s coveted leather purse and a sleek mid-mod-inspired console with built-in lava lamps.
“What you see in this apartment, that’s all we saved. Everything else is gone,” August said. “We had an estate sale, there were many boxes that went to various charities around Plano. It was hard, sure, but now it’s OK.”
With a lot of their stuff sold or donated, August and Irene shipped the rest to West Fargo and soon discovered they hadn’t unloaded enough, but that didn’t deter them.
“So all those boxes and boxes of things that got moved here went to various charities here,” August said. “It was difficult to choose what to keep, and it was hard to leave Plano, but being close to the family was paramount.”
The Kellers have five children (Ken, Tim, Tom, Laurie and Amy), 21 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. “As far as our heritage goes, it’s the family that is our greatest joy. It’s the element of our lives that we’re most proud of.”
Their son Tim Keller and his wife Kim had a big hand in making sure the move back north was as easy as possible on August and Irene. “We’re glad the move is behind us. Sheyenne Crossings is a very nice place to be. We’re enjoying the area and the meals are good and great portions,” August said.
August and Irene have always led adventurous lives.
August, or Auggie (as Irene affectionately calls him) was a one-time industrial arts teacher in Cooperstown, then a school superintendent for Litchville, ND, a West Fargo middle school teacher, and later West Fargo Schools superintendent, before he changed directions and became a government affairs director for the energy sector. Government affairs sent them to Texas where he worked until his retirement in 2012.
Aside from raising five children, Irene received a degree in nursing and worked at MedcenterOne, Mandan Hospital, St. Alexius, and St. John’s, all in the North Dakota and Minnesota area. Once they moved to Texas, Irene focused on raising kids and managing a household.
In their retirement, both stay active and busy, putting focus on meeting new people, making friends, being open to change and staying on top of their health. August uses his stationary bike “most days” and has a complete office set up with all the modern amenities: computer, wifi, camera, a printer and speakers.
Irene is busy getting to know their new neighbors and recently joined Forever Fit, an exercise program available to Eventide Senior Living Community residents. Both say the best parts about living at Eventide and having downsized have to do with amenities.
“I really like the location,” Irene said. “It’s close to West Acres, there are so many nice people and everyone’s just companionable.”
August is happily surprised to see so many residents up and about all the time in such an active senior living community. “Everyone comes and goes, family and friends visit. There’s not much downtime if you don’t want there to be,” he said. “No matter how long we live, we will be here. This is our forever home.”