|Although John received a football scholarship to Slippery Rock, he summed up his college experience in just four words: “It didn’t work out.” Instead, he was off to the Air Force as a fuel specialist and that did work out… eventually. He left the USAF, worked a while in the private sector, but ended up with a fulltime position with the National Guard that turned into a 39 year-long career. He might still be in that job except for a mandatory retirement at age 60. Along the way, he and his first wife had a son and daughter.“IT WAS TOUGH”
Meanwhile, Phyllis also grew up in Pennsylvania, in Butler, but hers was no idyllic upbringing. Indeed, her father passed away on her ninth birthday. She said of the years that followed, “My mom raised five kids and helped my aunt raise her six. We all lived together. It was tough, but we made it.”
After Butler High, Phyllis married. They lived on an organic farm, with sheep, chickens and horses, and there she homeschooled her three sons.
She eventually got divorced, moved into town and had a career with IBC (Wonder Bread, Hostess Cupcakes, Twinkies, etc.) and then with Costco.
When John and Phyllis settled down together, it was on three acres, with horses. As John said of that time, “When I got into line dancing, I decided that if I was going to dress like a cowboy, I should learn it.” So he took riding lessons and he and Phyllis went on to compete in barrel racing and team penning. (In team penning, you compete at how fast you can separate specified cattle from a small herd).
Eventually though, as John put it, “The horse/cowboy thing ran its course. With the weather in Pennsylvania, you could really only ride six months out of the years. So we bought a house in town.”
Phyllis described the rest of that transition: “What happened is we traded the horses in for two Harley-Davidsons,” adding, “My boys are big into bikes and if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”
During those times that the couple would come to Arizona to visit John’s mother, a resident of The Resort. (That would be Sarah “Sally” Leasher and John says of her, “She’s about to turn 90 and still rides her bike, dances and drives. She tried to go back to Pennsylvania to live in a retirement home, but she hated it; after six months, she came back to The Resort.”)
While John and Phyllis were visiting Sally, the inevitable happened – that old Resort magic took hold. “We got hooked,” Phyllis said. “We loved the weather and all the activities.” John recalled those early days, “Monty Montgomery invited me to play tennis, and I got hooked on tennis.” So the two bought a place just around the corner from the tennis courts and began spending half the year at The Resort.
“Once we got here we just bloomed,” Phyllis told us. “There are endless things to do.” (Photos from a couple of those events)