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WC People: Meet Henry & Eleanor Watts

February 10, 2016
Categories: Our Community

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.”

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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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