As a pathologist, Bob Richmond is methodical about his research. So, when it came time to investigate the pros and cons of a retirement community, his methods mirrored his life’s work.
“We found it in a systematic search for such communities,” is how Bob describes his discovery of Asbury Place Maryville. He, and his wife Kathleen Mavournin, were living in west Knoxville and unfamiliar with the concept of a continuing care retirement community until they attended a presentation on the subject through their church.
“We spent two years putting together a list of communities we wanted to tour,” says Bob, “When we visited Asbury Place, we stopped looking.”
The couple put a deposit on a new apartment in a building that had yet to break ground. They came out weekly to check on the progress and eagerly watched the construction. After 18 months of waiting, Bob and Kathleen moved into their two-bedroom apartment during the summer of 2012.
‘Love the sense of community’
“I love the sense of community that exists here,” says Bob, 82. “It’s great to live in a place where you’re not isolated from your neighbors.”
Both Bob and Kathleen were in their early 70’s when they moved in and had full approval from their kids. “We wanted to make our decision in a leisurely way,” says Bob. “We didn’t want to wait until our children had to pick a place for us. They fully supported our decision.”
Born in Hawaii, Bob is an Army brat whose family traveled around the country and the world as his father — also a pathologist — was dispatched to different posts.
He went to high school in Germany, where his dad was stationed at Landstuhl Army Medical Center, at a school run by the Department of Defense. From there, he went on to get an undergraduate degree from Harvard, and then to Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he received his medical degree, and did his pathology residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Bob keeps his skills sharp by working a couple days a month as the laboratory director for two Knoxville medical practices.
Pursuing photography, poetry and more
But mostly he enjoys the pursuits of retirement and the activities afforded at Asbury Place. Bob served for three years on Asbury’s Resident Council, and is an avid gardener who photographs and sends out “Flower of the Day” emails with detailed information about flowering plants to a list that numbers a little over 100, and includes nearby Asbury Place neighbors as well as friends living around the country and overseas. He’s sent more than 800 of these missives and hasn’t missed a day in more than two years. He’s also a member of the Asbury Singers and he and Kathleen are shape-note singers, one of the oldest and most traditional kinds of music in America, with deep roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
He also teaches The Poem as Experience, a course on reading poetry through the Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning. Since the onset of the pandemic, Bob’s been teaching the class through Zoom instead of making the 45-minute trip to Oak Ridge.
Bob also holds the unique distinction of being the Adult Spelling Bee champion in Blount County four times running. He couldn’t defend his title in 2020 and 2021, due to the pandemic, but won again in 2022. Improving his vocabulary is a daily pursuit — along with all the other entries on his to-do list.
Can you spell B-U-S-Y?