Ironman Michael

December 2, 2021

Michael Moberg is a man of action. In his 20s, he was a paratrooper who jumped out of planes; in his 30s, he ran marathons and competed in Ironman triathlons; and then in his 60s, he took up hang gliding! This year, he achieved another great feat – becoming a first-time great-grandfather!

Michael comes from strong mid-western roots. Born in Sioux City, Iowa in 1934, he was one of four children. When Michael was 11, his family moved to Seattle for job opportunities, but the move was difficult, and it took him a little while to make new friends. For the first year, the family lived in a trailer and then moved into a house that became their long-time family home. Soon, Michael made friends, enjoyed sports, and even played guard on the high school football team.

While Michael didn’t love being a student, he was surprisingly good at it and earned a scholarship to Wesleyan University in Connecticut. However, university didn’t go as well as he expected. “I was not satisfied with my progress,” says Michael. So, he left school and joined the Army becoming a paratrooper stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. While he called those days “exciting,” after three months, he was transferred to a clerical position in Kentucky, where his job was to “bring their records up to date.”  After three years, due to a “special rule,” he was discharged early to attend the University of Washington where he earned a B.A. in Business. He took his aptitude for numbers and worked as an accountant at several companies including Boeing.

Around this time, a good friend of his named Paul suggested to his sister-in-law that she should meet Michael. The matchmaking worked and at 23, Michael married Donna Lou Page. Their first child, Cynthia (Cindy), came along two years later, followed by Eric, and then Barbara (Barbie). By now they had moved to the Bay Area and Michael capped off his education by obtaining an MBA from Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Throughout his life, Michael always stayed active. Along with the marathons, Ironman competitions, and hang gliding, he also loved long bike rides. He once biked from San Francisco to Seattle to visit his parents. Another time he put his bike on a plane to Spain where he biked and camped across Barcelona.

Michael’s legacy now includes seven grandchildren – Grace, Grant, Mark, Katrina, Nicholas, Ciera, and Brooke – and most recently he became a great-grandfather when Katrina gave birth to Avery earlier this year.

Michael’s daughter Cindy helped him find Sterling Court and he has now made his newest group of friends. Michael maintains his competitive edge by playing Bridge, Bingo, Wii Bowling, and also appreciates the wonderful meals. He is enjoying life and the people around him – this Ironman isn’t getting rusty!

Special thanks to Cindy Moberg Domecus for her contributions to this interview.

Martha Keeps the Faith

November 8, 2021

How does a little girl start life on her family’s dairy farm in Alabama and become a successful family therapist in San Francisco? Just ask Martha Saul. Along the way she lived in Georgia, Kentucky, and Arizona plus has traveled to Paris, Peru, Spain, West Africa, and then took an 80th birthday trip to Italy. She has been a school teacher, piano player, pastor’s wife, mother, and grandmother – and always a dedicated and curious scholar!

Martha loved growing up on the farm. Her dad had 100 head of Jersey cows, a big milking barn, and two delivery trucks. Martha remembers there were always people around who needed a meal or a place to stay, and her parents always had room at the table and an extra bed.

At the end of World War II, Martha’s dad moved the family to Cooks Springs, Alabama where he had the opportunity to manage 1,600 acres of property to be used for charitable and religious purposes.

Martha was 12 and while she supported her dad’s dreams, junior high was a terrible time to switch schools. “I was ahead of those kids and the teacher called on me all the time,” says Martha. “Those kids did not want me there.”

By high school, Martha had developed a severe social phobia and yet continued to be a hardworking student. “I was a high school class officer every year and the pianist for the glee club, but I was kind of a wreck,” she says. For graduation, the school offered her valedictorian, but due to her anxiety, she turned it down.

Martha attended Samford University, a small liberal arts college, and after graduation, in fall of 1960 at the age of 22, Martha became a junior high school teacher. (No, she didn’t take revenge on those students!) “I enjoyed them,” she laughs, “but I had to be pretty strict!” Then next year she went to Fort Benning Georgia, “to teach army brats – that was fun!” Around that time, she and a friend decided to go back to school. Her friend suggested they “do something wild like, go to California!” They traveled to Marin to attend Golden Gate Theological Seminary.

“I grew up in the Bible Belt, and I wanted to make sure I understood what it was all about,” says Martha. Her second year, she met a young man named Glen, who had married his college girlfriend, but his wife and 3-month-old baby had been killed in a car accident. Martha and Glen started dating and then married. Glen became pastor of a small church in Rohnert Park and Martha taught high school in Petaluma. When Martha was pregnant with their first child, they moved to Bethlehem, Kentucky, a small town where Glen had accepted a church pastorate, while doing Ph.D. work in Louisville, and they had their three children there. “The people there were wonderful.” In 1972, they moved to Tempe Arizona where Glen had a parsonage. Then in 1976, they were invited back to the Seminary in Marin so Glen could teach. It was a wonderful place for their kids to grow up.

Martha became a licensed therapist treating people struggling with addiction, past child abuse, depression, and anxiety, and she found it incredibly fulfilling. However, Glen had been experiencing his own struggle. Although Martha had encouraged him to seek therapy, instead of facing the trauma of his first wife and son’s death, “he just kept marching,” says Martha. In classic middle-age-crisis mode, with empty nest syndrome and trauma, Glen resigned his position, left their marriage, and moved back to his home state of Texas, leaving Martha and their young adult children in a complete state of shock. “We faced what had to be faced,” says Martha. “We all went to therapy and then got on with our lives.”

That’s how Martha began her life of independence at 52. She kept her practice in Marin and opened an office in San Francisco. She considered remarrying, once quite seriously, but life was already good. As she got into her 70s, she stopped taking new patients but kept helping her long-term patients until 2016.

Martha’s three children and five grandchildren were now living on the Peninsula and her children wanted her closer, so Martha sold her big house. It was then that she was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was serious, the same kind that had taken her mother’s life, but she caught it early, started treatment, and the outlook is good.

Martha and her daughters chose Sterling Court for the convenient location, friendly people, and great food and entertainment! Then the pandemic hit and with her chemo-weakened immune system, Martha moved in with her daughter for a year and organized the meals while everyone else worked and went to school from home. They had a lot of fun! Once things opened, Martha moved back to Sterling Court and picked up her old friendships.

As she says, “It’s a long way from a dairy farm in Alabama” but she has never lost the love of learning, teaching, and her faith. In fact, she and another resident have started a Bible studies group. “I’ve enjoyed every place I’ve ever lived,” says Martha. “I feel very fortunate and blessed to be where I am now.”

Lynne and Charlotte Find Home

October 5, 2021

Lynne Leahy didn’t think this interview was about her – she thought it was about her dog, Charlotte – and that should tell you a lot about Lynne. After Lynne describes the sweet yellow Labrador who came into her life from a rescue that brings dogs from Texas, where they’re scheduled to be euthanized, to new homes in Portland Oregon, she’s ready to talk a little about herself. It turns out Lynne’s life has had a few ups and downs too.

After Lynne was born in Oakland, her parents – dad, a merchant marine and mom, a secretary – moved them to Walnut Creek, where they had two more children and Lynne got a dog named Posey. “The only creature I got along with,” says Lynne. “Mom and dad had problems.” Her dad was an alcoholic and had to go to prison, so Lynne’s mom moved the rest of the family to Salt Lake City to be near relatives. While Lynne admired her mother’s survival instincts, she knew SLC was not the place for her.

At 18, while working as a carhop at the A&W, she met a clean-cut young man who seemed dependable and different from the usual guys she dated. “I was dating guys who rode Harley Davidsons,” she says. Best of all, he was from California, and she was itching to get back there. After they married and moved to California, her husband joined the Navy and they had two boys. But their marriage broke up and Lynne learned something about herself, “I am truly an alcoholic.” By 29, she didn’t think she was going to make it, but a friend took her to a 12-step support group meeting in Belmont and she has been sober ever since. She found herself single with two young sons. “It wasn’t easy, but we stuck together. The support group was essential.”

Then, Lynne learned something else about herself, “I am a great salesperson!” She began selling office equipment and became the first woman to be named Salesperson of the Year of the international company! Lynne later used those same skills when she started her own successful company selling drinking water systems to offices. She remembers an early client, a little Mountain View startup that needed to order the system on credit. Luckily, Google turned out to be an excellent client!

During this time, she met a man, and they were together a long time, living in the San Carlos hills. They both made good money and her kids thrived. He was a skilled plumber, leading to one of her sons becoming a plumber too. He’d been sober for 20 years but when he started drinking again, he couldn’t stop, so she moved to a condo near downtown San Carlos. A good friend, a retired interior designer, helped her decorate. Together they visited estate sales and thrift stores and they made her place look great!

Around then, she met a new man who had a studio apartment in Sausalito and another apartment in London, and he wanted her to come live with him, so she put her condo on the market. They were great together for 8 years. She had sold her company and retired so they traveled a great deal. When she had to go back to work temporarily, he didn’t want a working wife and left her in Sausalito.

Lynne, who admits she is prone to impulsive decisions, moved to Portland, Oregon, where she stayed for 7 years, and Charlotte came into her life. But the recent political events changed Portland and she knew she had to move.

“I asked my heart, ‘Where do I belong?’ I knew I needed to come home and I thought of San Carlos.” She went online to review the area and Sterling Court stood out. “I wanted a place to grow old, where they’d cook for me, and I’d have companionship.” Her one worry was that Charlotte, her dog, wouldn’t be allowed (not to mention Sheba, her little stray kitty). But they assured her, that if Charlotte was trained, she would be fine at Sterling Court. And they were right.

In the future, Lynne is looking forward to starting art projects and helping other single moms, which is a big part of her own recovery program. But currently, she and Charlotte have settled into a great routine. They go to Peet’s, run errands, and for 20 minutes a day, Lynne rides her Peloton stationary bike. Then they head down to dinner. “People line up at my table – not to talk to me but to pet Charlotte and get love from her!” And you can tell by the way Lynne laughs when she says it, that’s just fine with her!

Around the World with Arleen & Ed Johnson

November 24, 2020

If you’re ready for a fun and fascinating conversation with Arleen and Ed, ask them about their travels. They have made 76 overseas flights, taken cruises, and driven an RV up and down the coasts, and when you talk to them, their enthusiasm is catching!

Ed grew up primarily in South San Francisco and Arleen was raised in San Mateo. They both say they had wonderful childhoods. Each went on an international trip when young and caught the travel bug early.

The couple met working for Pan American World Airways. Ed worked in engine overhaul and Arleen as a secretary. “There were 200 mechanics – and me in an office with the boss,” laughs Arleen. It will be 59 years together this month and both agree, they are still best friends.

In the early years, Pan Am gave employees a free ticket each year. Arleen and Ed’s first trip was their honeymoon to Mexico City. The next year it was Germany. When they landed in a new country, they would rent a car and never worry about speaking the language. Ed was an excellent driver and Arleen read the map. They drove in every European country, including the UK, Sweden, and Eastern Europe. Already avid skiers with a Tahoe cabin, they skied beautiful villages in Austria (getting tipsy on mulled glühwein), Switzerland, and Italy on the side of the Matterhorn. “It was so exciting and one of my best memories,” says Arleen with Ed’s agreement.

“We flew to Greece where we got lost in the countryside and were helped by a non-English-speaking man who got us back to the main highway with his pointing at our maps!” says Arleen. They flew into Iran and walked the streets of Tehran. “It was a blessed time to travel. The world was peaceful,” says Arleen. “Beirut was a beautiful city. ‘The Paris of the Middle East’ it was called and it really was,” says Arleen. Other travels included Iran, Syria, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, and South America including Peru’s Machu Picchu and Southeast Asia to Cambodia and Vietnam. “The people of Vietnam were probably the friendliest we’ve met anywhere,” says Arleen.

In 1960, due to a shift in operations, Ed went to work for Coca-Cola, but Arleen stayed at Pan Am for 35 years. At 25 years, they gave her a free trip to anywhere. “Others chose Hawaii or New York. I wanted to go around the world,” says Arleen. The airline flew them first class and they were treated like celebrities during a three-week trip. They saw Bangkok, New Delhi, and Singapore, staying several days in each place to absorb the countryside.

They even took weekend trips to Hawaii, London, and Paris. To avoid jet lag, they flew on the newly introduced and nearly empty 747s sleeping on an empty row of seats. (Though they confess that on one trip they fell asleep at the Folies Bergère.)

Ed is quick to say that they know how lucky they were to have these opportunities. He adds that by traveling standby, in the off-season, and avoiding tourist spots, they traveled very inexpensively. Their favorite places to stay were little inns in small towns barely on the map. Usually, they were the only Americans in town.

When they got a little older, they drove an RV all over the coastal U.S. and into Canada. They’ve also cruised the Black and Baltic seas, to the Caribbean islands, Cuba, and the Panama Canal.

They may no longer travel as much, but still act internationally by sponsoring two children, one a 16-year-old girl in Albania (since she was just 4) and more recently a little boy in Romania, via an organization called World Vision. They love staying in touch with them and following their progress.

Before moving to Sterling Court a year and a half ago, they’d had a home in the Belmont hills for 46 years and keep a framed panorama of its view. They love their 2-bedroom apartment here, filling it with mementos and decorating every wall with photos of their travels. “I look around the rooms and hallway,” says Ed, “and I see all of the places we’ve been.”

They loved every country and said there isn’t one they wouldn’t love to see again. When you talk with them, it feels a little bit like you’ve been there too!

Lois Murphy: A Farmgirl with a Big Heart

April 14, 2020

Lois Murphy didn’t think she had a story to tell until she started talking. It turns out she has met three U.S. Presidents, won awards, plus had a life of caring for others and working hard.

“I was always a person who liked to work. I was born in the Depression and wanted to get a job,” says Lois. She grew up in Winters, California – farm country. “By the time I was 7, I had a job picking up figs off the ground. Then, I packed figs until I was 10. I was really a farmgirl!”

Working in between school, Lois’s jobs added up. “At 12, I got a job at the dime store. At 15, the drug story lady took me away from the dime store. Then I went to work in the ice cream parlor,” says Lois. Next, it was to the insurance business up the street. “It was so much fun because I knew everyone in town.”

One of the town people was Tom, a high school football and basketball star. “He was like, unattainable,” says Lois. Nevertheless, he asked her out. After she left to attend college in Sacramento, her mother had a nervous breakdown and Lois came home to look after her. It was then that she and Tom decided to get married and Tom got called up for duty in Korea. They upped their wedding date from spring to January.

Lois was 20 when her husband came back. Unable to have children, they adopted two – a brother and sister. Then 18 months later, she had a baby! When her youngest was 5, Tom was killed in a car accident and her father was dying of cancer.

Her dad ran the Paradise Park Masonic Club in Santa Cruz, so Lois and her 3 children moved there to help. One day, her children met two children whose father, Frank, was a widower. “He had heart problems, had been given five years to live, and needed someone to look after his children.” Frank asked her to marry him. Still depressed about her dad and Tom, Lois said yes. They met in July, married in September, and then got to know each other. Frank worked in San Francisco, so they bought a house in Belmont and Lois enrolled her 5 children – aged 6 to 13 – into school.

Still a farmgirl at heart, Lois started a local 4H chapter. Soon the chapter had a farm, 150 members, a dance, and a scholarship program. She ran it for years and won many volunteering awards! Through connections at 4H, she was hired by then Supervisor and later Congressman Bill Royer to run his office. She had fun in that job and met President Regan, first President Bush, and President Carter. She was also on the San Mateo Fair Board, their Livestock Advisory Committee, and the Board of Directors for the Cow Palace.

Her husband Frank, who had expected to live 5 years, lived 11 and then one morning, he didn’t wake up.

Time passed and Lois met a man named Joe. He invited her out and they hit it off. “Then I married him!” exclaims Lois. “He was the sweetest man. I called him the love of my life.” She and Joe bought an RV and traveled all over the US. Joe had a surgery and never fully recovered, then quite suddenly passed away from an aortic aneurysm. “Thank goodness I’ve always had my children close,” says Lois.

“In 2012, I met this man online. And what a cutie!” She and Cliff got along beautifully, and Lois’s daughter encouraged her to move in with him. “When he heard he said, ‘Oh great! You want to get married?’ And I said ‘No, my attorney told me if I ever got married again, he’d shoot me!” laughs Lois. They traveled all over. Cliff’s daughter said he’d never been happier. Just last, year he died of pancreatic cancer.

Lois’s daughter did not want her living alone so they visited Sterling Court and it was just right. The apartments were bigger than other places and her youngest daughter lives just up the road. Now, in her cozy apartment, Lois is looking forward to her 88th birthday.

Lois is right. She didn’t have a story to tell… It is an epic!

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850 N. El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94401 Phone: (650) 344-8200 Fax: (650) 344-7395 sarah.stcharles@sterlingcourt.com

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