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Independence Day Holds Special Significance for SpringRidge Veteran
07-1-2020

Independence Day holds a special place in Gene Andal’s heart. A retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, it’s a time for him to reflect on the sacrifices and contributions of veterans to ensure our nation’s liberties, freedoms and rights. 

Gene, a resident at SpringRidge at Charbonneau, says the holiday is a time to show respect to the flag and what it’s given to each of us. 

“It’s always been a special time of year for my family,” he said. “My wife, Carolyn, and I lived on a 5-acre ranch and our children, grandchildren and in-laws gathered each year to celebrate. It was a wonderful time to be together, but the significance of Independence Day was never lost on us.”

The Andals relocated to Wilsonville almost one year ago from California. Both grew up in Oregon and view their retirement as “coming home.” They researched seven senior living communities in the area before deciding on SpringRidge. Though they were impressed by the picturesque location, friendliness of residents and staff, Gene says the SpringRidge Veterans’ Wall of Honor also stood out. 

“There are veterans pictured from all branches of the military and occupational specialties,” he explained. “It was humbling that the community thought so highly of those who served our country.”

Gene’s photo now hangs on the Wall of Honor, paying tribute to his 35 years in the military, most of that time in the Reserves. One week after his high school graduation, he entered the Navy’s boot camp in San Diego. On completing his Navy stint, Gene earned a Parks & Recreation Administration degree from the University of Oregon, retiring as Park & Recreation Director of Sacramento County. He also received a direct commission to 2nd Lieutenant through Army Reserves, where he spent the majority of his 35 years in Hospital Administration.

Since moving to SpringRidge, the pair who have been married for 62 years, have formed many new friendships. Gene derives a great deal of satisfaction from being with fellow resident-veterans. 

“Any time veterans get together, there’s always plenty to share – from military experiences to time spent abroad,” he said. “A lot of us didn’t see combat, but the camaraderie is still there.”

At SpringRidge, the Zest Director Cindy Foster plans events and programs throughout the year to recognize veterans and encourage bonding over shared military experiences. For July 4th, the active retirement community hosted an outdoor concert while being adhering to social distancing guidelines. The “Seymour Baker Band” performed patriotic music and the SpringRidge culinary team provided an all-American feast, delivered to each residence. 

The highlight of the year is the Veterans Day program in November. Festivities range from guest speakers to live entertainment and the official unveiling of the newest members of the Wall of Honor. The annual “Where Were You During World War II” Luncheon offers yet another way the community pays tribute to America’s “greatest generation.” The event coincides with the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, and resident-veterans gather to recount their military experience. 

“The military was the foundation for much of my life,” recounts Gene. “It’s refreshing to be with others who have such great respect for our flag and country.”

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