September 2021 Newsletter

The latest in our series…

The People of the Park:

The Duncans


Dale Dauten

If you’ve followed our “People of the Park” series, you may have noticed our favorite question: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten (or given)? When we put that to the Duncans, Anita immediately turned to Mike and said, “It’s that thing you always say to the grandkids.” And Mike responded, “Every time we see them, I say…

Work and Play Hard,

Have Fun at Whatever You Do,



“That’s how we live our lives,” added Anita. And that’s exactly the feeling you get when you walk into the Duncan’s place at The Resort – there’s unmistakable upbeat energy, along with ready humor. (An example of the latter: After Mike told us the motto he repeats to the grandkids, he added, “And they say, ‘Yeah, Grandpa, we know, we know.’”)

It’s that cheerful energy that caused the Duncans to help promote the group that’s come to be known as the “Summer Peeps,” those hardy desert-lovers who stay year-round at the Resort. “It used to be that there was nothing going on at the park over the summer,” Mike explained, “so we helped start weekly get-togethers. At first there were just 12 or 15 people, but now we often get 35 or 40.” Anita added, “We have potlucks on Mondays, visit a restaurant on Wednesdays and meet at the pool on Fridays.”


But let’s back up and explain how Mike and Anita came together to be the Duncans. They met at a school dance at Ramona High in Riverside, California, Mike a Junior and Anita a sophomore. They hit it off that night and Mike offered to drive Anita home. No, not an option: as she told him, “My dad is coming to pick me up.” So Mike walked her out front and waited with her, asking what kind of car he’d be driving. “A Cadillac,” she replied, and Mike, who then drove a ’51 Studebaker, remembers thinking, “Well, that’s the end of that. Not in my league.” But Anita proved open-minded and before long the two we headed out in the Studebaker for their first date, an Elvis movie. (Below is a photo of Ramona High, as it looks today, and a ’51 Studebaker, now a collector’s car.)

The two high school sweethearts married right out of school, the wedding held at Riverside’s famous resort, the Mission Inn.


As for their careers, Anita postponed hers to raise their two kids – more on her career in a minute. (In the photo below, that’s daughter Julie and son Steve. She lives in Wichita, Kansas where she became a Physician’s Assistant and has been picked to help run the P.A. program at her alma mater, Wichita State. He lives in Arkansas in a “tiny house” and manages a rehab center.)

As for Mike’s career, he’s retired now, but says he’s had “too many jobs to count.” In a good way. As Anita put it, “I never had to worry.” Highlights:

Mike’s job out of school – two days after graduation — was right there where the couple would eventually be married, at the Mission Inn. He worked doing deliveries for a pair of sisters who owned a flower shop in the hotel. “I worked five-and-a-half days a week and got paid $75 a week,” Mike recalled. “After a while, I started also doing floral design, but when I asked for a raise, the sisters turned me down. So I took an Assistant Manager’s position at Miller’s War Surplus Store — $90 a week.”

Mike’s longest tenure was with La-Z-Boy furniture, a total of 18 years. The young couple had moved to Arkansas, where Mike’s folks were living at the time, and when Mike heard they were hiring at the new La-Z-Boy plant, he decided to give being an upholsterer a try. That didn’t last long as he ended up with nine different jobs in his first nine months with the company, eventually becoming the plant’s first purchasing officer. His talents for cost and inventory control were spotted by headquarters and the company moved Mike and family to the corporate HQ in Michigan. Mike became Traffic Manager for Shipping & Receiving (and developed a system to reduce freight costs across all the company locations, saving $1.3 million in the first year of full implementation).

Along the way, Anita had a revelation about her own working life: “The kids were grown and I’d always wanted to be a teacher, so I thought, Why not? I started taking classes at Eastern Michigan State. I was in my forties and it was tough to get my brain going again, but I finished my degree, and my first job was teaching first grade.” (Below: Anita at her graduation party.)

Having decided that she was going to be a teacher with standards, she let the kids know from the start that she had high expectations. She recalls that after her first day of class she spotted one of her new students packing up all his books and supplies. She told him, “You don’t need to do that — those can stay here.” He replied, “I’m not coming back.” Those standards never wavered, and she recalls often pointing to a sign she kept in her classroom: No Whining!


It was during those years as a teacher that Anita started a tradition of spending Spring Break visiting her parents. And that meant an annual visit to The Resort: “My folks, Glen and Dorothy Marr, loved The Resort,” Anita recalled. “And Mike and I fell in love with it, too. We bought the place right across from my parents. Now we live in my parents’ old place and my sisters and their husbands use the place across the street in the winters.”

The Duncans have always loved to travel (below are a couple of photos from their cruise vacations), but they’ve lost interest in splitting time with their previous home city of Wichita. Anita told us,

“My daughter asked me when we’re coming home and I told we are home. The Resort is our home. You couldn’t ask for better people. We love it here.”


We are in the “Dog Days” of summer and Fall is almost here, there are many activities planned for the upcoming season and we are going to need volunteers.

Margie and I have so many activities in the works. To make the season at the Resort a truly wonderful experience, we need you volunteers.  We welcome anyone who wants to volunteer— the more volunteers we get the smoother all events can run, and we also won’t have to overwork those that do volunteer.

So many of you have special talents we can use. We need kitchen help, servers, dances, decorating, bingo, activity office help the list goes on.

Please stop by the Activities Office and sign up. Also, we will have a volunteer sign up meeting on Monday, Nov.1 at 10 AM in the ballroom, and another volunteer sign up meeting in January 2022 for those residents that arrive in January (date and time TBA). Let’s make the Resort the best it can be.

Hope to see you at the meeting!

Theresa and Margie

Activities Directors

And finally, we are pleased to pass along a couple of photos that Resort resident Brenda Johnson recently shot at the park…