All In the Family 

The O’Briens and Aronoffs share how they settled into a welcoming community—that literally feels like family—at South Franklin Circle.

John and Margi O’Brien had dined several times over the years with friends at South Franklin Circle’s Radius Restaurant—long before they decided to make the community their home about nine months ago. They also watched as the campus was constructed, having lived close by in the Chagrin Falls area for over 40 years. 

An active couple, they decided to transition to South Franklin while they could steer the process. 

After visits to friends’ cottages and townhomes, they said, “We loved both.” When a unit became available, they jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back. 

Often, you’ll find the O’Briens relaxing on their front porch, greeting those who walk by as if they’ve known them for decades. “The tagline, ‘Bringing community to life,’ couldn’t be more appropriate,” says John, who now serves as an ambassador, guiding guests through the property and answering their questions about South Franklin Circle life. “It’s not only a sense of community, it’s a sense of neighborhood.” 

And now, it’s also a family affair. 

John’s cousin Roma and husband, George Aronoff, recently moved to South Franklin Circle after the O’Briens introduced them to the lifestyle. “We have always been great friends,” George says. “We’ve taken golf trips for many years, traveled, and we really enjoy their company.” 

George agrees that having the O’Briens close by “is a very big perk.” 

The Aronoffs weren’t necessarily looking to make a change and had been living in Lyndhurst for 22 years. But when they saw “amenities at our fingertips” at South Franklin Circle, “we thought that would be ideal,” Roma says. 

Their 2,600 square-foot two-bedroom, three-bathroom apartment with a dedicated office “feels like home—it’s so bright and cheerful,” Roma says. 

And it’s a four-minute walk from the O’Briens, whom they dine with and visit several times every week. Not to mention, both couples, upon moving to South Franklin Circle, reconnected with friends they’ve known from other stages of life. Roma says, “Once we got here, we recognized other people we already knew, and when walking down the street, I don’t think I’ve ever passed anyone who hasn’t said hello whether we know each other or not.” 

South Franklin Circle Life

Friday evening cocktail hour mingling has introduced the O’Briens to many new friends, and the couple attended regularly after moving to South Franklin Circle so they could get to know their new neighbors. “It was so easy to join the group,” Margi relates. 

Spontaneous invitations to dine at The Bistro or Radius also helped the O’Briens grow new connections. From concerts and programs to bridge club and exercise classes, the couple immediately dove in—and settled in—to South Franklin life. 

“We’ve enjoyed trips to Blossom with fellow residents and group outings to Cleveland Guardians games,” John adds. 

Both take advantage of exercise opportunities. “It’s great because when I go to my class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I stop by George’s and pick him up, and he goes with me,” John says. “Roma has gone with us a couple of times and is interested in the aquacise, which Margi does.”

George, 90, still goes into the office at Benesch – where, before retirement, he was the senior partner and has worked since graduating from law school. “I tried to resign on my 90th birthday, but they wouldn’t accept it,” he quips, considering their decline of his resignation a tremendous compliment. He’s there in person once a week and consults by phone. “I’m very fortunate and enjoying it,” he says, adding that with the balance of work and play, he and Roma are both enormously pleased with the well-rounded, engaging environment at South Franklin Circle. 

A Smart Move, Two Perspectives 

South Franklin Circle was “always on the radar” for the O’Briens, as it basically developed right in their backyard. But for the Aronoff’s, discovering the community was a pivotal surprise. They hadn’t planned on moving, but the change just made sense considering the amenities, homes, access to engaging programs, and genuine sense of community and family. 

From two different perspectives—a planned move and an “aha”—the couples share advice for others who are thinking about their next home, a community where they can age actively.

  • Downsize early, John advises. “Don’t transport your clutter,” Roma adds that she and George were fortunate to have help from their two adult sons and their spouses when culling through a lifetime of belongings, sorting, packing, and then uncrating. Judson provides a move-in consultant who is very helpful with the complexities of downsizing, along with a move-in coordinator to triage the entire process. 
  • Why wait? Consider transitioning to a community like South Franklin Circle, when you can take charge of the decision, vs. a just-in-time move that can create more stress. As Margi says, “We didn’t want to burden our children.” 
  • Experience the community. Join other residents for dinner. Ask to be connected with an ambassador who can genuinely answer questions. Visit and tour several different times, and participate in a program or social event to see how comfortable the environment feels. “Even after we decided on South Franklin Circle, we came to an open house because we learned something new every time,” John says. “We met other residents, and before we even moved, there were familiar faces.” 

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