If you ask anyone at Glenaire about Faye Ostrom, you’ll probably hear how, even at 94 years old, she can run circles around some half her age.
Faye Ostrom was born on February 3, 1924, on a farm in Robeson County near Lumberton, NC.
“We were very poor, so I wasn’t able to afford to go to college until I was 38,” she said.
Instead, Ostrom went to work after high school: seven years in banking, seven years as a medical secretary, and seven years as a bookkeeper. During this time, on January 5, 1945, Faye married her first husband, a Robeson County farmer, Charles Lambert Lewis.
“We worked together like a team,” she said of her late husband.
Faye graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in both English and Spanish from Pembroke State College (now UNC-Pembroke) in 1965 and was certified to teach both. She started teaching English and Spanish at Carolina Military Academy in Maxton, NC from 1965 to 1967. As it was a private school and with her previous knowledge of banking, Faye knew that she needed a career that would provide a pension.
She joined the State Employment Security in Lumberton as an Employment Counselor for a year following her teaching leave. In 1968, she was given the opportunity to work with the Federal Social Security Administration as a Field Representative for Robeson and Scotland Counties.
“It was a great career,” Faye said. “At the time, people in the 1960s and 1970s, they didn’t know much about social security, but they were clamoring for information. I gave many speeches. My job was to teach people the rights and responsibilities and to push more people to have a job that took out social security taxes for their future.”
In May 1977, Ostrom was suddenly widowed. She also lost her two parents all within 10 months of one another.
“Losing them made me become a quick decision maker,” she said. “And I’m thankful that all of my decisions have brought me here.”
Faye was a widow for nine years when she met retired military Colonel Herbert Nelson Ostrom through friends in the mountains. The two dated for three and a half years before tying the knot on October 12, 1985.
“He was already retired,” she said, “So, I decided to retire as well on my birthday: February 3, 1986. My benefits were turned on that day since I was 62.”
Her new husband, originally from upstate New York, was living in Boca Raton, FL. When the two married, they settled down in Vero Beach, about 100 miles north. In 1989, they would move again to Ormond Beach, another 130 or so miles north, for a larger condo and a garage.
“We also had a mountain home in Spruce Pine, so we lived part of the year in Florida and the other part in the mountains. He was a big golfer,” she said, “and they had good golf courses around Spruce Pine. He even taught me to play golf.”
Over the next 15 or so years, the Ostroms planned their retirement in the mountains at a CCRC.
“We probably researched over two dozen communities, and we knew that we wanted to be somewhere with firm financial footing and a track record of good, stable management.”
Faye was widowed for the second time in May of 1999 in Florida. She sold the houses and put down her payment for a community near her previous Spruce Pine home. As she lived in a motel waiting for the community to be completed, her sister who was living in Greensboro was diagnosed with cancer.
“I told the community that I couldn’t move in, that I needed to go take care of my sister, no matter how long she lived, for as long as I could.”
Losing her sister shortly after made Faye even more passionate about moving closer to her family. Another quick decision later, she found herself looking for retirement communities around her brother and his wife who live in Raleigh.
“My brother did a lot of research on Glenaire before we toured the community together,” she said. “It matched everything I wanted. I moved in on April 19, 2000. My family and friends were supportive and delighted especially since I was homeless for four and a half months before moving.”
It has now been 18 years since Faye made her move to Glenaire.
“I have never regretted it. It’s a wonderful place to live. It’s so stress-free with so many caring people around. The residents have a sense of camaraderie, and the staff makes it so pleasant to live here. It just feels like this is really, truly your home. You’re a part of the community; you didn’t just land here. And that makes the difference.”
These days, Faye Ostrom exercises for at least an hour most days in the Wellness Center and enjoys reading newspapers and AARP bulletins and magazines. She is also a member of the Finance Committee on campus.
“Every day, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I live a wonderful life. I’m so thankful in my prayers, thankful for my parents who sacrificed so much, for my first husband—we were a team, and we were great working together, and for my second husband who was a wonderful partner. They all helped me to get here.”