She is 93 years old and willingly did something that would give people a fraction of her age pause. On a clear day May 24th, Shirley Spear, resident of The Danish Home of Chicago boutique senior living community, braved the Tilt! window attraction at Chicago’s John Hancock Center. Taking her place in the bank of eight windows that tilt down at a 30-degree angle, offering visitors a view of the city’s skyline and Magnificent Mile from 1,030 feet up, Shirley was not the slightest bit afraid.
“It was thrilling! Why deny yourself great experiences because of fear?” said the former English and education instructor at National Louis University in Chicago. “The people below were itty-bitty, and I was sure I could see all the way to Evanston!”
As for her readiness to try the new attraction, Shirley shrewdly reasons that a feature that accommodates so many visitors on a daily basis without incident must be safe. Plus, she said, she’s not afraid of heights.
Born Shirley Christensen, the resident of proud Norwegian descent appreciates all there is to do at The Danish Home. “We are provided experiences that keep up our interests and bring joy to our lives,” she said.
Jean Weichbrodt, a resident of The Danish Home for the past nine years, was enthralled with an event a bit more grounded than the trip to the Hancock building. When Adrian and Denise Brigham came to The Danish Home May 29th to tell the “True Story of Smoky the War Dog,” Jean fell in love with the couple’s four-pound Yorkshire terrier, “Hairy Pawter.”
“He was just so sweet!” said Jean of the tiny dog that is the same size and breed as the famous canine, Smoky, who was heavily decorated for all her heroism in WWII and became a favorite four-legged entertainer. Smoky is also credited as being the first official therapy dog, which is something to which Jean can easily relate. “Dogs are just wonderful, so good for the soul…like nothing else,” said the woman whose residence is prominently decorated with photos and memorabilia of the many dogs she has owned throughout her life.
Loving every minute of the presentation about Smoky, Jean relayed a story from the Brighams about a WWII naval officer who felt compelled to throw Smoky overboard because there were no dogs allowed on the ship. While heartbroken at the prospect, he felt he needed to obey orders. Fortunately, an officer of higher rank made an exception, and Smoky and the man who would have tossed him in the sea became the best of friends.
“I just loved that story,” said Jean, an American-born Dane whose maiden name is Nielsen. Like Shirley, she relishes the abundant opportunities residents have to enjoy enriching experiences both at The Danish Home and offsite.
At the end of this month, following the community’s annual Summerfest event on June 23rd, residents will visit the Art Institute of Chicago to see the “Georg Jensen: Scandinavian Design for Living” exhibit. In July, they will tour the Morton Arboretum to hunt for the giant wooden trolls designed by Danish artist-in-residence Thomas Dambo.
“It is a gift that the staff here keeps the philosophy of helping, learning and enjoying in the forefront of their minds,” said Shirley, emphasizing each of those words. “Those are the three most important things in life.”
A boutique continuing care retirement community in the quiet Chicago neighborhood of Norwood Park, The Danish Home offers residents a secure, caring environment with all the comforts of home. Founded by 12 pioneering women with a vision to assist older adults who’d emigrated from Denmark to work and live out their lives in America, the senior community warmly welcomes all who cherish Scandinavian traditions and customs.
Call today to learn more or to schedule a visit