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Wellness for Life-Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

June 17, 2021

At Westminster-Canterbury, we recognize the importance of a healthy lifestyle. We encourage our residents to have a “Wellness for Life” mindset. Life is so much more than living day-to-day, so we developed six wellness pillars that we focus on to ensure our residents are fulfilled in all aspects of their lives. The pillars are social, spiritual, intellectual, vocational, emotional, and physical. This last pillar - physical  wellness - helps our residents keep their whole bodies active and engaged, and is the one we will focus on in this blog post. 

Westminster-Canterbury has a state-of-the-art fitness center on our Virginia Beach campus, along with a very robust fitness program. The program consists of a wide array of group classes, physical therapy, personal training, aquatic classes in our two pools, and weight training in our fitness center. We also have HUR equipment, which is specifically designed for strength training and wellness for seniors. The equipment uses pneumatic (air resistance) instead of weights for a more precise and effective workout.

We spent some time talking to our newest Exercise and Aquatic Specialist, Myron Stewart, about why he loves what he does, and what a healthy lifestyle means to him. Myron began his fitness journey in 2017; he was over 400 lbs and knew he needed to make a change. He lost 100 lbs in the first 6 months and has consistently kept it off weighing 235 pounds as of June 2021. He graduated with his Associate degree in Fitness and Wellness from Tidewater Community College. He plays Tight End for the Semi-Professional football team, “The Hampton Roads Panthers” and won 3rd place in “The Heart of Ghent 10K” in 2019. 

When we asked Myron why he thinks a healthy lifestyle is so important he said, “I truly believe that it’s very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle because it drastically improves your quality of life. Many sedentary individuals are unaware of the benefits of living a healthy life. It can help prevent chronic diseases and long-term illnesses, and improve memory and brain health as well as heart and bone health. Living a healthy lifestyle is also important for your self-esteem and self-image. It allows you to feel good about yourself and good that you are taking care of your health.”

Welcome Myron to the Westminster-Canterbury team. We think an outing to a Hampton Roads Panthers game is in our future!

An important part of maintaining your physical health is focusing on your diet. We serve many fresh and healthy meals in our three dining venues. One of our favorite  entrées is Chef Bobby’s Mediterranean Chicken Pasta, which our residents can order anytime in The Pub. Use the recipe below to create it at home! 

When thinking about “Wellness for Life” we think our resident, Dick Binford said it best, “The key to a healthy retirement is to remain active. The key to remaining active is to live at Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay!”

Working Towards a Sustainable Future

May 14, 2021

Sustainability is simply meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of the future. At Westminster-Canterbury, we strive to do our part to not only be good neighbors, but to make sure future generations have the best possible version of our planet earth.  opportunity to talk on Coast Live about our community, sustainability, and all the ways we are giving back to the community and our environment.

One of the major ways we do this is by partnering with multiple local businesses including the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center  and Lynnhaven River Now. As a community right on the Chesapeake Bay, our residents and staff alike love seafood and we have a seafood option at every meal. The Aquarium gives us multiple sources on how to get sustainable seafood and make sure we are shopping locally.

We are very proud to not only be a Pearl Neighborhood, but also one of the first Pearl Businesses, which is an honor awarded by Lynnhaven River Now. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to making Virginia Beach’s waterways clean and healthy. Being a Pearl Business means, we have committed to being more environmentally-conscious and incorporating eco-friendly practices in and around our community. We strive to be good stewards of our waterways and reduce our carbon footprint. For example, we have increased our use of plant-based compostable containers including coffee cups. We also now use paper straws instead of plastic ones.  These biodegradable straws replace 31,000 non- biodegradable ones annually.

Something not many people know is that we have more than 80 raised garden beds on site that our residents are able to use and grow their own flowers and vegetables. Not only that, we have our own herb garden on site that our chefs incorporate its crop into recipes and serve in one of our three dining venues on campus. In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, we are installing a hydroponic garden in the coming months to be able to grow even more locally sourced food. Plans are also in the works to start a compost pile in the near future.

Wondering how you can be more sustainable, we have included a simple chart below on a few ways to reduce waste and a recipe in which you could use veggies and herbs from your home garden. We, like you, are always striving to be more sustainable and hope you will join us on this journey.

To see the full segment on Coast Live, click here: https://www.wcbay.com/news

Meet Que

November 14, 2019

I was fortunate enough to spend some time with residents John and Mary Wolfe and their black lab puppy, Que to learn about Canine Companions for Independence and why John & Mary decided to help others by working with this organization. Canine Companions for Independence, founded in 1975 is a non- profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs with a lifetime of support to ensure quality partnerships. The dogs are labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, or mixes of the two breeds that are bred in California. Volunteer applicants are put through a grueling process, one that Mary compared to adopting a child. Once selected, the 8 week old puppies are flown to their pre-approved raisers. The volunteers train the puppy for a year and a half, provide socialization and training, pay for all food, classes, vet visits and submit a monthly report on how their puppy is progressing. When the dog is returned to the Canine Companion headquarters, they undergo nine additional months of strenuous advanced training. At this point, with all of Que's training he will be worth about $50,000 and given free of charge to the person he is matched with to become an assistance dog. Que will be matched with whomever requires the skillset for which he is best suited. He might pull a wheelchair, alert a deaf person about sounds, predict an insulin attack for an owner, keep a depressed person with PTSD alive with special companionship, reassure and guide an autistic child, perform search and rescue or even bomb sniffing.

Mary and John have raised and trained 7 rescues in their marriage sometimes 2-3 at a time and many of them were labra-mutts. When asked why they decided to volunteer in such a significant way, the Wolfes said, “We love dogs and think they are important to people. We are 78 years old and if we got a young dog of our own it might out-live us! This is a way we can help others.”

Thank you Mary and John for your wonderful contribution! We look forward to watching Que on his journey. 

Proud of the Five-Star Care rating at our Hoy Center

March 1, 2019

The Hoy Center at Westminster-Canterbury is ranked Five-Star in overall quality and Five-Star in every subcategory regarding quality care. Only 8 nursing centers out of 286 in Virginia have achieved this quality standard, and the Hoy Center at Westminster-Canterbury is the only center in Southside Hampton Roads to receive this distinction. We’re proud to say our Hoy Center has received a Five-Star Rating ever since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created the rating system.

The Hoy Center is a small but very important part of our Life Plan Community. While 80 percent of our residents are independent and do not require care, they know the Hoy Center is available to them at any time, should they need it. The assurance of care if needed is one of the many benefits of calling Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay home. What a great piece of mind for our residents and their families to know that just by living in our beautiful seaside resort community, they are guaranteed access to five-star healthcare in the future.

While Westminster-Canterbury residents are always able to access our Hoy Center for long stays,  the greater Hampton Roads community can also use our newly renovated Stone Rehab which is located inside our Hoy Center. Stone Rehab is available for short-term rehab therapy following a qualifying hospital stay. At Stone Rehab we specialize in treating cardiac, pulmonary, orthopedic and medically complex cases. Stone Rehab is here to “ Perfect the Art of Recovery.”

To read more about our Five-Star Care rating just click this link https://bit.ly/2IJQdOg

WC People: Meet Charlie Pugh

April 25, 2018

When you think of people winning medals for their skiing skills you probably think of someone in their 20’s.  Well here at Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay we’ve got an 80 year old resident who just picked up his silver medal for skiing.


Charlie Pugh decided to take his first skiing lesson while he was out visiting a friend in Michigan about 50 years ago.  Between time spent at the beach and keeping up with both Hokie football and his grandkids, Charlie doesn't hit the slopes as often as he would like during the season. But he says “it’s kinda like riding a bike. You can run the course fairly well if you concentrate.”

He ran the course in Squaw Valley, California very well this year at the NASTAR Nationals. That’s where he received his silver medal for the bronze division. The divisions are determined by the amount of skiing each participant has done in the past few years and what type of resorts they've skied. Mr. Pugh qualified for the event while skiing at Wintergreen this season. This is his fourth time competing at Nationals. He says it’s a wonderful experience not just because of the exciting atmosphere but also because the pace setters for the event are all Olympic Champions.


For 45 years Pugh has been a member of a local ski club called Moguls. He says while the basics of skiing remain the same, the equipment sure has changed tremendously over the years.

Pugh has skied all around the world but says when he was in Austria and saw people of all ages skiing he realized “If you’re physically fit you can ski at any age.” That’s why he hits the gym six times a week doing cardio and strength training. He’s worked out most of his life beginning when he played high school football and baseball. While he’s proud of his latest medal he says one of he greatest accomplishments and joy of his life is having had the opportunity to teach his granddaughters to ski. Now he says “keeping up with them is the hardest part.”

A Guided Tour of the Holy Land

November 30, 2017

If you’ve ever thought of touring the Holy Land now might be the perfect time to do it! Plus what better way to go than with a wonderful tour guide and a couple dozen like-minded friends.  Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay Chaplain Doug Gray is organizing a trip with a  tour guide who promises to make the land of Israel come alive for you.

David Hyman has been a National Parks Ranger in Israel, an Israel Defense Force Paratrooper Officer and a Counsellor for the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. Having been born in England and raised in Jerusalem David has a unique love for the land of Israel. He will show you Israel from an archeological and historical perspective. He says you will also get a chance to feel the land, meet the people and experience the culture of the land he loves.

Chaplain Gray will provide Bible teachings along the way.  The trip itself is scheduled for April 2018. It will be an eight-day tour with one day on either end for travel.  All the travel arrangements are being made by Kedma Travel in Israel.

Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay President and CEO Ben Unkle has been on the trip twice. He says initially “I wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact of the trip.”  The first time he went alone but he knew the next time he had to bring his wife Barbara with him. He says “it was such a great experience and so good for both of us.”

We hope to have 20 to 35 Westminster-Canterbury residents and friends join us on this amazing trip. If you want to find out more about the trip contact Chaplain Doug Gray.

WC People: Meet Betty and Dick Binford

June 27, 2016
WC People is an ongoing series of profiles of residents, staff, volunteers and others associated with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together men and women from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.
When asked what they do in their spare time, Betty and Dick Binford glance at each other and smiles spread across their faces.
They never stop moving.
Their energy and ambition were apparent from an early age. Betty graduated high school at age 15 and went directly to nursing school, graduating at 19. She joined the Air Force, where she met Dick in Peru, Indiana on her way to her first active duty tour at Offutt AFB, Omaha, NE.
While both Betty and Dick remain humble, their accomplishments are outstanding.
“While stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, the Cuban missile crisis occurred,” Dick says. “Betty was the only flight-qualified nurse anesthetist in the entire Air Force. While she was never deployed, she was given a surgical team and remained on call for months.”
After four and a half years, Betty left the service and worked at different hospitals around the country. Dick’s military career lasted for 30 years, taking them and their three children all over the world, until he retired as a colonel in 1988. His time in the Air Force included 10 years in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) and 20 in manpower management.
However, “retirement” did not have the same meaning to Dick as it does to most people because he immediately took a job with a human resource management and consulting firm, The Hay Group, where he stayed for twelve years.
He hasn’t stopped yet.
Dick now volunteers 30 hours per week for the AARP Tax Aide program, which provides free tax preparation services at the Virginia Beach Central Library.
“There are more than 8,500 sites in the nation that provide this free service,” Dick says. “I’m proud that we’re number two in production. We’re able to complete 75 to 100 returns per day.”
At WC, Dick is chairman of the Golf Croquet Club, which has over 100 members, plays ping pong, sings in three choirs and often plays golf that many days per week.
In addition to being a docent at the Virginia Aquarium for 12 years, Betty has joined the WC Wellness Committee, enjoys sorting and pricing clothing for WC’s Flotsam & Jetsam (F&J), and goes to Zumba, yoga and the fitness center four days a week.
Together, they love to play golf croquet and the Dutch game of Sjoelbak and to travel (their latest trip was a riverboat cruise in France).
“We’ve never been more active than we are now,” says Betty. “We’re a short elevator ride from the fitness center, events, games, educational programs and more. Imagine being only five floors away from everything you want to do. It’s really more than one human is able to take advantage of.”
To the Binfords though, the best part about WC is the people.
“Everyone, especially the residents, has a great attitude.” Betty says, “Each person truly treats you like you’re a guest in their home. It’s wonderful to be a part of it all.”

WC People: Meet Marigrace Thomas

April 20, 2016

WC People is an ongoing series of profiles of residents, staff, volunteers and others associated with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together men and women from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.

Swimming with sharks.

Coming face-to-face with a sea lion.

Trekking through Antarctica.

Few people have had experiences like these but this is just a few of the adventures Marigrace Thomas has embarked upon.

Marigrace has been to all seven continents and throughout her travels, she has collected art and photos from around the world. One of her most memorable trips was for her 70th birthday, where she acquired a sculpture called “The Loving Family.”

“For my 70th birthday, I went on a safari with my three children to Zimbabwe,” she says. “It was a magical trip. That’s why the piece holds such special memories for me.”

Glancing around her apartment at Westminster-Canterbury, it’s easy to feel transported to different places around the globe.

“I don’t just buy art to buy it,” Marigrace said. “Every piece has a story.”

A seed necklace purchased from an Aboriginal woman in the Outback hangs in the living room, while framed photos from Croatia and New Zealand fill the shelves in her office.

But her apartment is not only filled with photos and art. She shares her home with Hannah, her standard poodle, whom she rescued from a puppy mill.

In fact, a perfect place for Hannah was one of the many points Marigrace considered when she was searching for her new home. As a former elementary school teacher for 28 years and owner of a travel accommodations rental company for 36, Marigrace is a thorough decision-maker.

She investigated more than 50 communities from Tidewater, Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. She visited twenty in person and stayed overnight at two.

At the conclusion of  her research, she made a life-changing choice for her next home: Westminster-Canterbury.  A little more than a year later, she could not be more pleased with her decision.

“The overwhelming decision maker was the attitude here – of the staff and the residents,” Marigrace says. “It’s so much better than everywhere else that I visited. It’s hardly comparable. Everybody smiles, the staff is polite, friendly and competent.”

WC is definitely where she wants to be.

“From housekeeping, to security, to the administration - the team is very respectful and very responsive to what we want,” she insists. “I have total freedom here. There’s nothing I’ve wanted to do that I haven’t been able to do. I’m completely independent and I don’t have any of the worries I had with a house - when I leave, everything is taken care of.”

WC People: Meet Henry & Eleanor Watts

February 10, 2016

WC People is an ongoing series of profiles of residents, staff, volunteers and others associated with Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together men and women from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.

Henry and Eleanor Watts like to say they are living life backwards.

While many people attend college, play sports and travel before marrying and having children, Henry and Eleanor did the opposite.

Shortly after meeting, they knew they wanted to marry, and they quickly did so at age 18.

“Of course, I knew before she knew,” says Henry. “She was just so right for me.”

They had three beautiful daughters, which then led to six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

When their three girls entered school, Henry and Eleanor both decided to further their education. He earned his MBA and Doctorate in Business, Marketing and Behavioral Science from George Washington University, and she attended George Mason University, majoring in sociology.

Both say that while they waited until after they had children to return to school, they are lifelong learners. At Westminster-Canterbury, they are happy to be surrounded by others just like them.

“The greatest joy we’ve found at Westminster is the tremendous number of interesting people,” Eleanor says. “Everyone seems to have had such an unusual life and experiences. We can learn from everyone around us.”

Henry and Eleanor are among those interesting people at WC. Henry began working for Southern Railway in Alabama and later transferred to its headquarters in Washington, D.C. When Norfolk Southern formed in 1982, Henry and Eleanor relocated to Hampton Roads where Henry rose through the company, retiring as vice chairman in 1997.

While raising their children, Eleanor volunteered for 17 years as a docent at the Chrysler Museum of Art.

Their desire to continue learning has never wavered.

When Henry retired, the Watts started traveling all over the world, seizing every chance to learn about history, geopolitics and culture. They’ve visited the British Isles, Italy, London, Nepal and more.

They’ve also toured the United States, including taking their six grandchildren to Alaska, and are now visiting presidential homes and libraries.

Not only do Henry and Eleanor enjoy exercising their minds, they continue to exercise their bodies by trying new physical activities. Both learned to ski at age 65.

At Westminster-Canterbury, they are both part of the Great Decisions program, run by the Foreign Policy Administration.  It provides background information and policy options for the eight most critical issues facing America each year and serves as the focal text for discussion groups across the country.

“Westminster-Canterbury really is a reflection of the Virginia Beach community,” Henry says. “It’s easy to become a participant and community member because the residents come from all walks of life. Whether it’s lawn croquet, ping-pong, Book Magic book reviews or the Great Decisions program, everyone can be involved. And you can’t beat the view of the Bay!”

“It’s a great learning experience and service to our community,” says Henry. “The people who live here have such outstanding backgrounds that it’s not difficult to find leaders for the sessions. It takes quite a bit of research but the person who presents truly becomes an expert in the subject.”

WC People: Meet Emily Filer

January 4, 2016

WC People is an ongoing series of profiles featuring people connected to Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay. Our community brings together people from all walks of life with amazing stories to tell. We are proud to share them with you.

1978 was a pivotal, and tragic, year for Emily Filer.

Her daughter, Lee, died at age 16 from Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system.

That moment ignited a passion in Emily that would lead her to a life of service to her community.

Before Lee died in the summer of that year, she and nine of her friends began Lee’s Friends, an organization dedicated to offering emotional and practical support to cancer patients and their families facing the fear and uncertainty of diagnosis and treatment.

Thanks to Emily’s drive and determination, Lee’s Friends grew and became recognized throughout Virginia and the nation as an outstanding non-profit. In 1982, Emily traveled to the White House, as Lee’s Friends was one of 16 agencies chosen from 2,300 nominations to receive the President’s Volunteer Action Award.

“Lee inspired the program, and it’s our job to carry it out,” Emily says. “It’s a living memorial to her. We work with all ages and stages of cancer and have been able to help thousands of people. We started with no volunteers and no money, but thanks to the cause and the dedication of our friends, we have won national recognition.”

After 23 years of service, Emily retired from Lee’s Friends in 2001; but her dedication to the region has never stopped.

She was a member of the board of trustees at Virginia Wesleyan College for 20 years; member, past president and now honorary member of the Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach; vice chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Aging in Virginia Beach, just to name a few of her accomplishments.

In 2010, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) from Providence Bible College and Theological Seminary for her volunteerism.

Her dedication to others has continued at Westminster-Canterbury. During her eight years on the WC Board of Trustees, she learned a great deal about the community and knew she wanted to make it her home.

“When I retired from Lee’s Friends, I went back to school and became an associate chaplain for Sentara, working in five different hospitals,” Emily says. “I loved it, and I continue my work here as a pastoral caregiver and chaplain in the Hoy Center.”

Emily has a shadow at Westminster-Canterbury - her toy poodle Mango! When you see Emily, Mango is usually not far behind.  “She’s eight pounds and a complete character,” Emily boasts. “Everyone, from staff to residents, has fallen in love with her.”

Emily can’t imagine calling anywhere other than Westminster-Canterbury home.

“When I was part of the Virginia Beach Commission on Aging, I saw every potential community in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, and I actually lived in both cities for long periods,” Emily says. “But, once I visited Westminster, there was no question. I’m able to do everything I love and explore new interests too. I love playing Sjoelbak – I’d never heard of it and now it’s one of my favorite pastimes!”


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  • You can't cut off your life because of COVID. You have to be careful, but you need to keep living. Westminster-Canterbury makes it easier to do that. Dr. George Franklin, Resident
  • The key to a healthy retirement is to remain active.  The key to remaining active is to live at Westmnster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay! Dick Binford, Resident
  • The best decision I ever made was to move to Westminster! Joan Lottman, Resident
  • I have lived here for almost two years and I absolutely love it! Moving here is the best decision I ever made in my life! My children might not realize it now, but coming here is the best present I have ever given them. Beverly Griffin, Resident
  • A huge thank you to all the Westminster-Canterbury staff for all that they are doing for us during these challenging times! Special thank you to Catering for their off-campus pickups for us! Vera Jean Russell, Resident
  • Thank you for everything you do everyday to keep us happy, healthy and safe!! No place I’d rather be!!️ Shirley Wharton, Resident
  • This is the best possible place for us to be. Brenda Leonhirth Ladell, Resident
  • Thanks for helping take great care of our parents. We miss seeing them, but glad you’re taking every precaution to ensure we’ll get that chance when this blows over! Karen Costenbader Bradley, Family Member of Resident
  • Stone Rehab went over 100% above and beyond expectations! Joan Lottman, Resident, Stone Rehab experience
  • Thanks to Ben Unkle, CEO of Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay for making this [www.birdsongtablet.com] technology available around the world! LeadingAge Virginia
  • The best decision I ever made was coming to WC 6 years ago. Everyone is very professional, they know their job & they do it well. I was healthy and independent 6 years ago when I moved here & now I'm experiencing episodes of back pain that Stone Rehab is helping me with. It's a marvelous place! Joan Lottman, Resident, Stone Rehab experience
  • It’s hard for me to believe that I have not been off campus for almost five months with the exception of three doctor’s visits. Yet, I am perfectly content. I have had the opportunity to leave since March, but continue to choose to stay here where I feel safer and my days can be filled with many of the activities you have provided. Connie Rutledge, Resident

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