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Residents sitting outside with a fountain in the foreground.

Gatesworth Stories —

The Best Time of Your Life
Something for Everyone

Whether you’re planning to spend your retired years taking up a new hobby or taking it easy, you should have all the amenities to do as you wish. The Gatesworth provides residents with the ability to make their own choices and customize their experiences around how they want to live their retirement lifestyle.

Resident looks over his artwork pieces.

Resident John Lesser has always been active in the St. Louis arts community, with degrees in art history and a career both in teaching and in curating art, as well as a passion for opera and cinema. Since he moved into the community in 2010, The Gatesworth has allowed him both to continue pursuing his interests and – in the case of his expansive opera-poster collection – to display mementos of them.

“I’ve given tours and love talking about my ‘paper children,’” Lesser says. “I also love researching them and collecting contemporary as well as vintage or antique posters. My oldest dates from 1845 and my newest from 2022.”

From devoting several hours a week to painting in the Art Center and exploring the community’s vast selection of movies, to taking trips to opera performances, Lesser adds that he is never bored with all the different available entertainment and activities.

“I have also participated in many of the ‘Questers’ programs,” he says, referring to The Gatesworth’s discussion series that covers a variety of subjects. Lesser has led several of these groups on subjects like drinking songs, comparisons of singers, and dives into particular themes and motifs in opera.

“In these presentations, I am always assisted by staff members; programming, concierge and administrative, who handle the technical details with knowledge and enthusiasm,” Lesser says. He also enjoys attending the lectures and special events, saying it’s the only time he finds himself sitting still.

For residents T.V. and Erladean Mattingly, The Gatesworth is an excellent place to keep social in their retired life.

“I enjoy meeting people – I love reading and making new friends,” T.V. Mattingly says.

St. Louis natives, the Mattinglys returned six months ago from 17 years retired in Florida, in order to be closer to their children and other relatives. Their son, a Ladue resident, recommended The Gatesworth, and after a lunch with owner David Smith, they were fully won over. “We were left in awe,” T.V. Mattingly comments.

Erladean Mattingly enjoys going on golf outings and is part of a coloring class at The Gatesworth, while T.V. Mattingly praises the lectures as well as the music and entertainment put together by resident program director Kathy Davis.

“Kathy does a great job,” he says. “The activities and services really stand out. The staff here really care, and they get to know each resident.”

T.V. Mattingly also notes how the residents themselves contribute to an overall positive atmosphere at The Gatesworth and how even little things like residents regularly playing the grand piano make the experience that much better.

“You’ve got to make every day what you want it to be,” T.V.Mattingly says. “It’s not how many years you live – it’s how you live your life. My wife and I try to be positive, and it’s easy to do that at The Gatesworth. It fits what we like and fits who we are.”

Lesser concludes that the best part of retirement is continuing to engage with others, something The Gatesworth makes easy. “If you are always open to meeting new people, exchanging ideas and sharing enthusiasm – if you keep your eyes, ears and minds open, this can be the best time of your life.”

Text based on an interview by Maggie Peters in Ladue News

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