Just over 3 years ago, Bob Rosenkranz retired after a long career as an endodontist on Boston’s North Shore. Married half a century, he and his wife Judy — a former phys ed. teacher — had to decide, “What do we do after we grow up?”
They figured they’d split time between their 2nd house in Vermont, and a gated community in Florida.
Their daughter Robin, son-in-law Matt Leon and 3 grandchildren — Jake, Josh and Jessica — had lived in Westport for nearly a decade. Whenever Bob and Judy visited, they stayed in Norwalk hotels. They’d take the grandkids to the usual dining spots — McDonald’s, Swanky Frank’s — and the tried-and-true recreational areas, like the beach.
Bob and Judy didn’t know much about Westport. But one day, they had dinner — by themselves — at Positano’s. They saw a Richard Dreyfuss performance at the Westport Country Playhouse. The next day, they took the train to New York, and stayed overnight. Both had grown up in Brooklyn. They remembered the city from the 1960s. It had changed dramatically, for the better.
Judy — who played tennis with women 20 years younger at home — and Bob visited the Westport Tennis Club. They saw a bunch of older guys playing — quite well — and heard talk about the “Wise Men.” A man named Otis spent an hour chatting with them. “In Massachusetts, no men play tennis in the morning,” Bob says.
Judy broached the subject with Robin and Matt: How would they feel if she and Bob moved to Westport? The “kids” were all for it.
Judy and Bob talked to a realtor, but weren’t sure what they wanted. A rental? Condo? Nothing felt right.
Through a series of coincidences — including friend-of-a-friend stories — they bought the perfect house, off Partrick Road.
Then things really started to happen.
Bob and Judy found great new friends with older couples. They joined 2 film groups. The Fairfield University extended education program. A book club. A bridge group.
Bob joined the Y’s Men (he now knew how it was spelled). He joined 2 regular tennis games, plus 1 of platform tennis. He plays bocce. He hikes.
“I don’t know if these guys are former Fortune 500 CEOs or cobblers,” he says. “It doesn’t matter. They’re great!”
He is inspired by Y’s Men like Kurt Rosenfeld and Gun Moen, who is 87 and still skis, plays bridge and poker, and hits the speed bag.
Judy hooked up with a Manhattan art tour group, led by Westporter Joyce Zimmerman. She got involved with the Y’s Women.
She too plays platform tennis — outdoors, in January. She’s also in 4 other tennis games.
The couple dines out often. They love Westport’s restaurants, including Jewish-style delis Gold’s and Oscar’s. (In their previous life, the nearest deli was 35 miles away, in Newton.) They call the choices in supermarkets “phenomenal.”
As for shopping, it’s “fantastic — accessible and easy.”
They show off the library, beach — and many other parts of Westport — to out-of-town friends. They are awed by Staples Players performances, and love the Playhouse (especially the recent Harlem Dancers show).
I should note here that Judy and Bob are 2 of the warmest, most outgoing and funniest people that I have ever met. They also seem to have found a fantastic balance between doing things as a couple, and on their own. Still, their excitement about their new home town is astonishing.
“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Judy says.
“I don’t have enough hours in the day,” Bob adds. And then he starts describing all the great hiking spots he’s found, like Sherwood Island in the off-season.
What’s nice to hear — beyond so many great words about Westport – is that, as Judy says, “people who have been here 30 or 40 years are opening up their lives to new people like us.”
But don’t think the Rosenkranzes spend all their time playing tennis, dining out and going to shows. They’ve cooked dinners for the Gillespie Center, done other volunteer work, and are always on the lookout for ways to give back.
Plus, of course, there are the grandkids. Judy and Bob were “mesmerized” by a recent Long Lots music concert (“there was no dissonance at all — and they had a whole ensemble with steel drums!”), and they are faithful attendees at endless soccer, baseball and lacrosse games.
Nor do they just travel between Westport and New York. They recently returned from a trip to Patagonia. (The region, not the store.)
But Bob and Judy always come back — physically, and during our conversation — to the wonders of their new home town.
“We love it here,” they keep saying.
Almost as much as we love having them here.