By Almeda Girod
Esther McGuire was the first resident to sign a contract to live in the Riderwood community, and as such, she was issued the resident number 0001. Esther, a retired employee of United States Department of Agriculture in Beltsville moved in May 2000 from a “stone’s throw away.” Within a few weeks her sister and brother-in-law, Marguerite and John Moore, moved to Riderwood, while another sister, Mary Graninger, later followed.
Esther remembers that shortly after the opening of Riderwood, the staff often joined the residents for meals in Village Square, social activities were planned around the fitness center and pool area, and the Catholic community met in the Potomac Café for services.
Esther’s then 11-year-old granddaughter, Jessica, who is now a 2nd grade teacher recalls feeling sad when her grandmother left her house. However, the sleep overs continued in Esther’s Park View apartment. Jessica commented that she enjoyed sharing meals with her grandmother’s friends and hearing their stories that gave her a glimpse of “how things were in their generation and how much life has changed.” She remembers many family oriented activities such as the fishing tournaments.
Esther and other new residents began forming what has now become the more than 250 resident driven clubs, groups, and organizations at Riderwood. Among these new interest groups were Poker, Line and Square dancing, Wii Bowling, and the Computer Club. Esther served as a cheerleader for the softball team and sang in the Resurrection Catholic Choir. She and Dottie Mackin were among the first students to learn to play the Ukulele and both were long term members of the Acousti-Cats.
Esther’s five children and other family members presented her with a kick start Razor scooter that is popular with the youth as a housewarming gift. Lenora Booth, the first executive director, expressed safety concerns and so “the kids” added a helmet and knee pads to be used as Esther coasted around the empty hallways. She was affectionately called “Scooter Girl”.
Esther made the transition to Arbor Ridge six months ago where she continues to live a full life with family and friends as she enjoys attending Mass, happy hours, the fitness center, and going with her great grandchildren to the courtyard to observe the ducks.