April 5, 2022
Bob Suter is a man with an eye for nature. He takes amazing photographs of nature in and around our campus, and many of his shots appear on our website and in our printed materials. His photographs are engaging views of nature- You can almost feel what it must be like to be a baby turtle approaching an acorn, or feel the wind beneath a chickadee’s wings as they approach their nest in his photos.
He takes full advantage of the setting here at Kendal-Crosslands Communities to take riveting pictures of our surroundings, including the many birds here on campus and throughout the area.
Choosing a Place to Retire
Bob and his wife, Val, moved to Crosslands in 2017. They had known about Kendal-Crosslands for a long time — Bob’s mom went to Bryn Mawr, and one of her best college friends had moved into Crosslands. As Quakers, Val and Bob knew other people from their Meeting who had come to Kendal as well, so it was something that seemed to be a natural choice. And when they decided to move into a community, they looked only at Kendal at Longwood and Crosslands, although they briefly also considered Kendal at Hanover, but decided Kendal-Crosslands offered better weather while also putting them near to one of their children who works at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
While Bob’s parents had once considered moving to Kendal themselves, they ended up waiting too long, and a combination of factors led to it not being an option for them. Bob’s mom had vascular dementia, and ended up in a nursing home, where they often received emergency phone calls about her condition that led to great worries and stress. Bob also had acted as a power of attorney for a close friend and fellow professor who spent many years in a nursing home, so he had a good understanding of what aging could look like if you did not choose a Life Plan community like Crosslands.
Crosslands offered the security of Life Care so both he and Val knew they would get the care they needed, along with a vibrant community of people who shared similar values and ideals. “We found it really easy to make friends, and within 2 – 3 months, we felt very well integrated into the community,” Bob said. He added, “We knew that moving here while we were still in good shape gave us the opportunity to make friends and really enjoy everything the Community offers — we moved in when we were 69 and 70, and I would encourage people to come sooner rather than later for that reason alone.”
Bob had an interest in photography ever since he got his first box camera as a boy, but took it up a bit more seriously as part of his work as a Professor, studying animal behavior at Vassar. Over time, this interest grew from snapshots to paying more attention to how content is structured to make photos more interesting and moving as art as well as science.
Now that he’s retired, Bob spends a lot of time with both the Kendal Photographers at Kendal at Longwood and the Camera Club at Crosslands. Crosslands residents have come to rely on his updates as he uses his drone and other photographic tools to make videos of new construction on campus, or shows the progress being made by nesting birds at Crosslands, by way of his Nest Box cam.
Bob is also an active Birder, and part of 2 bird teams at Longwood Gardens — one devoted to Bluebirds and one helping monitor other birds on the property. He also spends time at the nearby Bucktoe Preserve, helping with bird surveys.
His photographs are always intriguing, showing an eye for nature that merges both art and science together. Capturing birds in flight, fox kits playing near their den, or a frog croaking in a pond — each picture tells a story and looks ready for a National Geographic photo spread. He and the other active members of the photography group at Kendal at Longwood submit photographs each week, and give each other gentle critiques on how they can each improve composition and other aspects of their craft together.
Click through the Gallery to see many of Bob’s wonderful photos taken around our campus
We spoke about how the transition to digital photography has been seamless and actually wonderful, because now, everyone can see the photos instantaneously and share them more freely, without waiting to send rolls of film out and hoping for the best, or going through the process of developing film by hand. “While I have done that, it’s so much easier now, and we can share our work together — I’ve helped set up the technical aspects so we can share things on Zoom, and that’s been helpful during the pandemic.”
New Construction Photos
Bob has also taken lots of pictures of the progress of the demolition of the old Wollman building and the new construction there, sharing the many shots and drone photos throughout the community. “Now people ask me about when my latest update or video is going to be ready, adding a little pressure to what is mostly enjoyable to do.”
Pandemic Life and Beyond
Val and Bob adapted to the pandemic — Val has been integral to setting up and now running the new Crosslands Residents website, which has been important in keeping everyone informed and connected throughout the Pandemic. Bob and Val have also had virtual dinners with friends who live out of state over Zoom to stay connected- but he’ll be glad when Zoom is no longer as big a part of our lives. “Zoom has been important in keeping us all connected, especially when things were scary early on, but it’s hard to have the same sorts of conversations over Zoom that you have in person with people. I’m looking forward to using it less and less, although I know it will continue to be part of what we use to keep people connected for the foreseeable future.”
Bob and Val have each found friends and things they enjoy. In addition to working on the Resident website, Val has been working with a young woman from the Kennett Square community, with tutoring and eventually taking her citizenship exam, and now working on her GED. They both have helped the community become more technologically efficient, and Bob has helped with the energy committee and the Big Woods project, working to help improve our environment, locally and beyond.
With over 100 resident committees, there is something for everyone to get involved with or discover. You can even start your own group. Unlike communities with an Activities Director, the residents through the Resident’s Association organize everything in the community. It means that the current committees always reflect the interests of current residents, and no one will ever have an excuse for being bored!
“If people are considering Kendal-Crosslands, coming early is definitely the best way to go. We found many like-minded people here, and chose Crosslands for its more open layout and integration into nature. We’re both happy we decided to move in when we did, and we know we’ll get the care we need, providing good care for ourselves, and providing freedom from worry for our kids as well.”
Interested in Learning More About Life at Kendal-Crosslands?
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