Riderwood couple shares a love of science


By Elaine Hauptman

Resident Writer

As serious scientists, Sandra and Bill Flank did a full-scale investigation into retirement communities that offer opportunities for their inquisitive and analytical minds. After searching for more than a year, they were attracted to Riderwood for the stimulation and intellectual challenges the community offers.

Moving from Chappaqua, New York, and having Hillary and Bill Clinton as neighbors, was both a geographical and emotional ride for them. But, when they arrived at their apartment, they found that their enthusiastic and ecstatic children and grandchildren had decorated their door with photos and achievement awards this dynamic duo had acquired in their professional careers. Their “kids” had finally gotten the parents “home”!

Both Sandra and Bill’s careers read like a “who’s who” in scientific research. Bill, an expert on global water resources and a leader in the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater organization, has used his expertise to investigate the quality of the water we drink at Riderwood. Yes, it is safe to drink. If you mention bottled water to Bill, he relates statistics about the extraordinary number of sea turtles and other animals who are destroyed and tortured by the tons of plastic that pollute our waterways, oceans, and landfills. Although Bill is primarily a chemist and materials scientist, he is a leading advocate for clean environment enforcement.

Sandra, his wife, grew up on a farm in New Jersey. This was not an ordinary farm, but an incorporation of clean and healthy farm policies initiated by the Roosevelt administration. This farm specialized in egg-laying hens. Here, prior to PETA, hens were well cared for and given healthy feed. Sandra’s farm and the entire community were the prototype for the town of Greenbelt, Maryland. Greenbelt was another major WPA project of the great depression.

Sandra Flank was immersed in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program at the Pace School of Education. She is keenly interested in the science of food. She wants her students to know what flour is made from, how butter is made, and is there a difference between brown and white eggs?

Sandra also is confident that everyone can be a math expert, and the only block to one’s ability is their math anxiety.

Sandra and Bill met at Temple University where they both majored in chemistry. Later, Bill was to become a Scoutmaster of Chappaqua Troop #1. Both are great enthusiasts of folk and bluegrass music, and Bill even jammed with Pete Seeger.

Following in their parents’ footsteps Sandra and Bill’s children are deeply involved in science and technology.

The classes here at Riderwood have offered additional enrichment to this dynamic couple. They have studied American History, Life on the Oceans and the History of Medicine. Since they are new to the area, they have been visiting local museums and cultural attractions.

Bill exercises his body as well as his mind and enjoys Riderwood’s pickleball games.

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