The Coach is Coming Home

September 27, 2018

I don’t know when I have enjoyed an afternoon so much as I sat down last summer to talk with one of the most beautiful couples I have ever encountered. At first acquaintance, they are striking in appearance - Julie with her gentle crystal- clear blue eyes and Coach Bob who exhibits commanding discipline born from years of NFL life. As we chatted, the real beauty of these two individuals lay in their story of two who become one and chose to live not for themselves but to pour out their lives into the lives of those around them. This was the real reason I was so captivated by this couple. 

 

Having Ubered over, I was a few minutes early for our interview. From the time I drove onto the grounds of Liberty Heights, a continuum of care retirement community, on the north side of the Springs, I felt peace. To my left was Pike’s Peak which never disappoints, to my right were well-manicured lawns. With impressive security, I was welcomed into a lovely lobby and sitting room. As I waited for Jeanine Hamilton, Director of Sales and Marketing, who would introduce me to Bob and Julie Lord, I had time to observe the interaction between staff and residents. There was warmth, respect, and friendliness. (The Lords said Jeanine was a key component in their positive transition here.) When I asked Julie about one of her joys in living at Liberty Heights, she confirmed my initial impression. The Lords’ daughters had spent much time researching and choosing Liberty Heights, so when the Lords made it their home in 2017, they had not seen the facility until they moved in. Julie bragged about her daughters’ great discovery. “I felt a friendliness of the staff and other residents immediately. We are so blessed our daughters picked this place.”

 

 

 

Bob and Julie met as college freshmen in 1953 at the University of Northern Colorado in Greely. Bob had just returned from the Korean Conflict and fell in love with Colorado as he passed through the state on his way back. He wrote his parents and told them he had fallen in love with Colorado and wanted to attend college here. 

 

Bob and Julie raised five children. Bob coached for 59 years, nine of which were with the Green Bay Packers, the New York Giants, and the Chicago Bears. I asked Julie what it was like to be an NFL wife and mother. She said if their two boys were showing a need for discipline, she would tell the boys, “The Coach is coming home so you better behave!” Bob says the family was so blessed by a “wonderful, nurturing mama.” 

 

Bob retired at age 83. His Kawasaki Vulcan 500 was transported here from their former home in Atlanta, Georgia. Bob laughed and said, “We put the motorcycle in the moving van first! Then we chose what furniture we would bring.” He still enjoys a leisurely drive up Highway 83 to Parker on beautiful Colorado afternoons. The two shuttle to the YMCA in Briargate three times a week for the “Silver Sneakers” program. Liberty Heights’ monthly calendar keeps them as busy as they chose to be – A band, “Mixed Nuts,” recently provided entertainment. “We knew most of the songs and could sing along.” 

 

There is also a shuttle available to the residents, a fitness room, indoor swimming pool, art studio, and physical therapy provided on campus. Each home has a security button that the residents push every morning to let the staff know “everything is ok!”

 

Bob shares a typical day. “After the demands of a coach’s life, not only on him but on his family, we now have time for that second cup of coffee. We work crossword puzzles together and are both avid readers. In the winter, we turn on the gas fireplace and watch the snow on Pike’s Peak from our living room window.” On one of the walls in their home is a family tree of photographs, beginning with their parents. “We spend a lot of time praying for our family whose faces are always before us. I believe prayer is one of the most unused gifts God has given His children. We have found great contentment here.”

 

I asked Bob about his adjustment to his new home. “One thing I miss is Julie’s cooking, she’s a great cook, but the Liberty Heights Chef offers many great dining selections.” Continuing a lifelong commitment to seeing the needs of others, they have many ministry opportunities here. “Sometimes we dine with someone who has just lost a spouse or needs a new friend. We have enjoyed meeting and getting to know others from all walks of life.”

 

One of Bob’s life philosophies is, “You need three bones in life – a wishbone, a funny bone, and a backbone.” The Coach and Julie, a Denver native, have found a home at Liberty Heights. In the glow of this beautiful love story, it was hard to end the interview with this gentle and loving couple. Julie will tell anyone, “Our cup overflows!” 

 

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