The couple kissing in the Carlton Senior Living video now being shown at movie theaters and on the company’s website has garnered a fair amount of notoriety. They are Bill and Ruth Hall, residents of Carlton Senior Living in Davis.
“We moved in the first day the community opened,” said Ruth, “and the first party here was a celebration of our 70th wedding anniversary.” The Halls had lived in a cooperative neighborhood near Carlton Senior Living, watched the new community being built and decided long before it opened that they would become residents.
“Our daughter lives in Davis and needed time to be with her small grandchildren,” said Ruth. “By moving to Carlton Senior Living, we gave her more time to be with them.”
“We realized the time would come that we would need more care,” said Bill. “This is the place we should be, there’s no doubt about that.” Bill and Ruth both heap praise on the high level of friendly, knowledgeable care that the associates give residents at Carlton Senior Living.
“They are good, competent and pleasant people,” they agreed.
Upon moving to Carlton Senior Living, Ruth said she felt great relief at not having the responsibility for cooking and cleaning. Chef Andrew Moret’s scratch cooking uses an abundance of fresh, locally grown ingredients that captured her taste buds.
“The chef cooks a variety of healthy food and is a master of soups,” said Ruth, as she held up two fingers for emphasis. “We have lived here more than two years; soup is served at lunch and dinner and I have enjoyed beginning each of those meals every time but two.”
Bill said he likes to play cards, participate in exercise groups, play Wii bowling, watch movies and help expand the library.
“There is more to do than we have time to do,” he said. “The balance bar fitness is great for me. It really helps me control my balance and the instructors know how to work with seniors, adapting the exercise to our age and ability.”
Ruth was the first president of the residents’ council and both of them serve as ambassadors for the community, welcoming new residents and helping them get acclimated.
“We greet everyone,” said Bill. Ruth said they invite new residents to join them at meal times and for group events.
Bill, who will be 95 this year, and Ruth, who is turning 92, got married when they were 22 and 19. They were both from Kansas, the children of ministers and, although they had met as youngsters, they had very little contact until they reconnected as students at Kansas Wesleyan College in Salina, Kansas. A year later, they were married. Ruth transferred to Denver University which was near Iliff, the theological seminary Bill was attending. They both graduated and Bill became ordained.
“Near the end of World War II, teachers were needed more than military chaplains,” Bill said. After teaching two years at his alma mater, Bill decided “I would be a more effective teacher than clergyperson” so they moved to Rhode Island and Ruth taught school while Bill commuted to Boston University. He was a classmate and became a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. The two maintained a friendship for many years as King became an icon of the civil rights movement.
The first half of my career I taught at the University of Denver and was dean of religion at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri,” said Bill. The last 20 years was teaching and administrating at Syracuse University. He co-authored two textbooks on varieties of religious beliefs and another book on religion and public education.
While they were parenting their three children, Ruth hosted hundreds of students and faculty in their home. They took a young man from Africa into their family who achieved a degree in communications and returned to his home to establish Cameroon’s first television station. Later the
Halls adopted two young relatives who needed a different environment in which to complete high school.
Ruth also pursued a career. She obtained a Master’s Degree in administration and a certificate for counseling.
“My work included counseling students and groups on campus and supervising workshops for various religious and civic organizations. All desired inclusiveness for people of every race and sexual orientation,” she said.
Bill laughed approvingly. “She’s always been a radical.”
The Halls have had a number of brushes with fame, including stints on national television.
In 1956, Ruth was on the popular game show “Stop the Music” and Bill was on “Name that Tune.” This was the era before Herb Stempel and Charles Van Doren revealed to the United States Congress how game shows were rigged competitions, but that fact was not lost on the Halls.
“They had watched us and tested us extensively before we went in front of the cameras,” said Ruth. “They knew the songs we knew and the songs we didn’t know. We could see the producers rigging the outcomes.”
Nonetheless, both of them emerged as unexpected winners, although the prizes were not quite as generous as they are today.
“I won $100 in cash, a dozen dress white shirts and 10 sets of cuff links,” said Bill, to which Ruth pointed out, “yes, but the shirts did not have French cuffs!”
They are still big winners in the eyes of their four-year-old great grandson. While visiting them at Carlton Senior Living for the first time, the boy grew restless so Bill and Ruth showed him the billiards room, activity area, movie theater and more. When he got home to his father, he said “you should see the big house that grandma and grandpa live in!”