George Towne & Frank Towne

man singing & and man playing piano

Brothers and neighbors at Applewood. George and Frank Towne, brothers who grew up in northern New Jersey, live under the same roof again for the first time in about 70 years. Six years apart in age, with different likes and interests, the brothers chose Applewood as their retirement destination but live in separate customized  Juniper Signature apartments. George, a US Navy veteran, former math teacher and credit union manager, and his wife Jo, moved to Freehold in the 1960s after they were married. The couple heard about Applewood’s senior living community from friends who also sang in the church choir at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Colts Neck.

When George’s wife passed, he spent too many days at home alone in the Freehold home they had shared for 55 years. “I’m a social person and knew that sitting at home alone day after day wasn’t good for me,” George recalls. In addition, to reach his kitchen and porch, George needed to use a stair lift, which became inconvenient over time.

“I reached out to my friends from the chorus about making a move and made an appointment to tour available homes,” George recalls. Freshly renovated with several updates, he selected a third-floor 2-bedroom, 1.5-bath Juniper Signature apartment with a comfortable balcony. With the help of his children, who live nearby, he moved to Applewood in July 2021.

Frank Towne

Meanwhile, his younger brother Frank, a retired Chemistry teacher who taught at The Peddie School for 40 years, lived alone in the quintessential Shore town of Manasquan. He had recently been dealing with health issues that had limited his quality of life. “While I love to cook, it was becoming more difficult for me to manage the kitchen and keep up with a home and yard,” Frank notes.

George had told him how pleased he was with his new life at Applewood and the surprising ease of meeting the other residents. “My brother told me how friendly and welcoming everyone was to him, which resonated with me,” Frank recalls. He also liked that he could easily walk to the Bistro or formal dining room for meals, alleviating the need for supermarket trips, cooking and kitchen clean-up.

On an afternoon whim, Frank toured a freshly renovated patio-level expanded one bedroom Juniper Signature apartment in another wing of the community, and discovered the layout was similar to his Manasquan home.

“There were too many plusses for making a move to Applewood, including the chance to be near my brother, so my decision to move was quick, easy and exciting,” Frank recalls.

Both brothers used a senior move management service that packed their furniture and belongings from their previous homes and unpacked them at Applewood, using a pre-designed furniture layout approved by the men in advance. “They helped us downsize and seamlessly arrange our belongings in our new homes,” Frank explains.

During the personalization and refurbishment of his apartment, an existing oversized closet was repurposed for Frank’s beloved piano by carving out the space, removing the doors and adding an overhead fixture. “This is a great use of space as I have more than enough closet space in the apartment already.”

“I had the same experience as George meeting the residents,” Frank says. “If you put yourself out there, you’ll have a wonderful time here.” In just a few months, the accomplished pianist has joined the weekly Music Jam sessions. The brothers, both singers, also plan to join the Applewood Chorus.

Frank, a lifelong opera lover, was thrilled to meet another resident enthusiast. Together, they began hosting a Sunday afternoon opera video series, playing DVDs of their favorite performances (with sub-titles) on the Performing Arts Center’s big screen for anyone who would like to watch.

George Towne

George enjoys his weekly Mexican Train Dominos group and looks forward to the upcoming overnight excursion to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. “Frank still drives, but we love the freedom to be driven door-to-door to wonderful day trips without worrying about traffic, weather or directions.”

Having spent so many summers enjoying life on the Jersey Shore, the brothers and their family can still jump in the car and be on the beach in about 30-40 minutes.

“Being able to easily see my brother every day is particularly special to me,” George notes. “We are so pleased that we combined our lifelong love of the beach with our new lives at Applewood,” George says, as he heads to the Dining Room to meet his brother and their new friends for a pre-holiday dinner.