By: Tony Edwards

Well, it may be a bit of a stretch to call Mary and Bob Petersen “new.” They moved into their Albemarle Plantation home overlooking the 15th green on June 26, 2017, so they have now celebrated their first anniversary as residents of the Plantation. They both say the first year has flown by, as they haven’t let the grass grow under their feet in terms of getting involved in AP community life. Mary, a self-confessed avid reader, is now a member of three book clubs. Bob was keen to volunteer from the time he sat in the Albemarle Room and participated in one of the many Polish the Brass feedback sessions held during August last year. Now he is doing a stalwart job leading the work to “polish up” the outside of Dockside Café. They love the many opportunities to get involved that AP provides. They are members of the Osprey Yacht Club and love both power boating and kayaking.

So, where did they first meet? Well, Bob had been working during his college years at a bowling alley pub in Nashua, New Hampshire, to earn some spending money. He was studying Business and Finance at the University of NH, so was keenly aware of the importance of having some discretionary cash! Mary and her best friend were looking for summer employment when they walked into that same pub, owned by a nice yet crusty curmudgeon. His meeting with them was very brief, and when they had gone, he asked Bob, “Would you hire them?” Bob quickly said “Yes” … a very good snap judgment on his part as it turned out!

“No dating” between employees was the policy, but that didn’t stop Bob from asking Mary out. Mary told me, “I wasn’t going to say ‘Yes’ the first time he asked; he was going to have to work a bit harder than that!” But Bob has a persistent and determined streak, and after several thwarted attempts, Mary finally agreed to go out with him. That was in 1975, and their courtship lasted five years before they married in 1980, setting up their first home together in Goffstown, NH.

After graduating with a degree in Administrative Science from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Mary worked ten years as assistant production manager at a printing company producing labels and stickers. Bob completed his degree and went to work for a savings & loan firm as a management trainee. In the banking industry he experienced a number of acquisitions and restructurings before taking the bold step of joining up with two finance professionals he had gotten to know through his bank work. They formed a partnership focused on providing mortgage asset management to banks. (I was wise enough not to delve any deeper into the complex world of mortgage asset management).

Deftly switching gears, I asked them about their family. Bob quipped, “What, the ones I know about?” And Mary gave him “The Eye”! They actually have three grown children: Geoff, Seth, and Tegan. I had not come across the name Tegan before, but Mary explained its origin is Celtic, and she had picked this name for her firstborn if it was to be a girl. Well, she finally got her wish when her third, a little girl was born in 1990. Geoff and Seth were born in ’82 and ’83 respectively. Seth (married to Shannon with two kids, Brinley and Delaney) and Tegan both now live in the Richmond area, and Geoff is situated in Northern Virginia. So, it begged the question, “‘How did you all land up down south?”

Well, it turns out that Bob’s partnership business lasted seven years before he was lured away by Freddie Mac to lead the development of the same type of business within Freddie Mac. This job opportunity required the family to move to Northern Virginia, and so they did in the summer of 1997. This rural New Hampshire family moved right into the heart of suburbia with all three children fortunately at the point where school moves were inevitable anyway. Mary began substituting at the local schools and soon found herself working mainly with special-needs children. After several years, the Director of Special Education asked her to please consider getting her teaching degree. She went back to college, earned her Master’s in Special Education, and made a successful second career teaching children on the autism spectrum. Bob chipped in, saying that he regularly has need of Mary’s special skills, patience, and experience! Bob told me his personal career success was based on his ability to “sell.” Playing golf while doing deals was the way he put it! Well, he’s sold me on his volunteer commitment, and I can personally attest to his golf prowess!

They found AP during a visit to the Ideal Living Resort & Retirement Expo in Tysons Corner. They had been focusing on the Virginia Lakes area south and west of Richmond for their retirement, but on visiting AP they knew they had found the place that really suited them. Mary said, “The people here are so friendly, and there are so many ways to get involved.” Bob said, “I knew Mary needed to be involved in any community we moved to, and this community fits the bill for her. I am happy if she is happy. Here we can both get involved in things we like to do together as well as separately. The diversity of activities here is second to none.”

When you meet Mary and Bob, wish them a happy first anniversary at AP. I’ve no doubt you will enjoy getting to know them as I have done.