Resident Stories

We are blessed to be caring for and supporting the greatest generation of American pioneers and heroes. Please enjoy the resident stories we have below and then reach out to us to schedule a personal tour of our award-winning community.

Ed McCaffrey - Flooded to Florida

Ed McCaffrey and his wife had lived in Maryland for 35 years by the time 2003 rolled around. They were snowbirds to Florida in the winter time but liked the sunny seasons of the Mid-Atlantic coast for spring and summer.

That all changed on September 19, 2003, when Tropical Storm Isabel charged through western Maryland, knocking out power to 1.24 million people, flooding areas both along the shore and into the cities, leveling homes and buildings on the Eastern Shore, and caused $945 million in damage.

“Our home in Maryland got blown away,” McCaffrey said. “Literally. So we bought a home down in Florida and became permanent residents.”

Getting the big move out of the way actually made the rest of the journey easier to manage. After 10 years in a Florida residence, McCaffrey and his wife FLorence moved to a town home in Melbourne and became some of the first residents at Discovery Village at Melbourne.

So often, people move to a senior retirement community as the direct result of losing their spouse. For McCaffrey, it happened in reverse. The pair had lived in the community for three years when Florence died of ovarian cancer in 2016.

“My wife and I always saw life as having different phases, and that last one was us making a transition from going to a house to coming here, and her having cancer,” McCaffrey said. “If I had been alone in a house when she died, I don’t know how I would have...I would have had a really hard time with nobody to talk to.”

As should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with a Discovery Senior Living facility, both the residents and staff members rallied to McCaffrey’s side when his wife passed, and not just in the short term.

I couldn’t have been in a better place,” McCaffrey said. “The staff made the transition after she passed really easy for me. They let me know that anything I needed, they were there for me. They still talk about her and still remind me that they care.”

It takes a real man to admit that sort of vulnerability, but what else would you expect from a man who spent 22 years in the US Air Force?

The native of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, spent a year in Vietnam and got married to Florence in 1958. The couple had five children, who in turn gave them eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Even when he got out of the service, McCaffrey kept working close to the government, working for an insurance broker that took care of the National Guard Association, then for the Department of Defense and the Treasury Department in the field of computer security.

Now in yet another phase of his life, McCaffrey has found ways to stay busy and enjoy his life day in, day out.

“There aren’t many men here, but I”m involved in a small men’s club,” he says. “We have a residents council that encourages people to put in comments and so on to improve, and I’m involved with the council.We have lots of activities here, it’s just people to take advantage of them. I have found stuff I like to do and that keeps me active and happy.”

Jane Thompson - A Life of Adventure

One of the toughest things about retiring is often moving away from the comfort of one’s familiar locales to an all-new environment, that being Florida more often that not.

That was never the case for Jane Thompson, a resident of Discovery Village Melbourne, she’s called the Sunshine State home for each and every one of her 91 years.

“I was born in Sebring, and raised in West Palm Beach,” she says. “Fifty-three years ago, I came here and married a gentleman from the Air Force.”

Remember those TV commercials a few years back for Dos Equis beer featuring “the most interesting man in the world?’

Well Thompson appeared to have married that man in real life. A colonel in the United States Air Force, he was the head of the missile test ranges at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. 

As such, he became familiar with several of NASA’s astronauts during the time, flying them to the Pratt & Whitney - United Technologies facility in West Palm Beach.

Thompson was a frequent passenger n those flights and thus got to rub elbows with some of the first men to escape earth’s atmosphere.

Thompson’s husband flew regularly with Gordon Cooper, one of the seven original astronauts of Project Mercury, the first US manned space mission.

But her late husband Dan’s life didn’t stop getting interesting there. He was also one of the divers on the team with Kip Wagner when he discovered the shipwreck of the 1715 Plate Feet near Vero Beach. The treasure has been a central plot point of two movies - 1977’s The Deep and 2008’s Fool’s Gold.

Unlike the fictional “most interesting man,” Dan Thompson was a family man. He had three children and Jane had two when they got married, with the children ranging in age from 9 to 13.

“I deserved a medal fort that,” Thompson says with a laugh. “My mom used to say you raise his kids just like your own, but it’s a little different. My kids had been very sheltered while his were classic Air Force brats, very independent.”

The kids were obviously affected by their father’s career. Son Danny went on to work at the missile test range just like his father did, while son Jon and daughter Mary both joined the Navy.

Not to be outdone, Jane wrote a book called “Growing Up in Palm Beach” with funny and poignant stories of her youth.    

The story that almost defined Thompson’s golden years occurred a couple of years ago at home. She experience a fall in her house, and came to the realization that her kids would be worried sick about her and that she needed to reduce that risk as much as possible.    

“I lucked out and got better and returned my old ways, i even still drive a car,” she says. But to put both herself and her children at ease, she left her home at the beach and moved to Discovery Village at Melbourne.

While many people struggle with the necessary downsizing that comes from leaving a home and moving to a retirement community, Thompson has a tremendous outlook on the task.

“My philosophy is no matter what you had, it was loaned to you anyway, so you shouldn’t worry so much about giving it up,” she says. “I have a two-bedroom apartment and I couldn’t want more much more. It’s very, very nice to live here.”

Despite being well into her ninth decade on the planet, Thompson is one of her complex’s most vibrant and active residents.

“One of the best things about this place is that we can keep happily doing what we want to do,” she says. “We had a wonderful fellow come in yesterday who could play just about every instrument, and tomorrow I’m taking my car out for lunch with a group of ladies.”

She believes laughter and a good spirit are the keys to feeling young while growing older.

“I had three brothers who all had a sense of humor and that’s kept me going,” she says. “Some people have that spirit all their lives, they feel alive, and it’s a pretty good way to live. When I was younger, I met older people who were so alive, and I couldn’t believe their ages. Now I can’t believe mine.”