“Living at South Franklin Circle is simple!” says Gayle, an artist and former White House calligrapher. “We just let the staff know that we’ll be gone, and we know everything will be taken care of. It’s wonderful not to have to arrange for yard work — or anything — while we’re traveling!”
The Bauers moved to their apartment in South Franklin Circle’s Community Center in 2009, following 40 years in D.C. While in the nation’s capital, they both enjoyed remarkable careers. For Bill, a physician and World War II vet, that included serving as the first national director of the Professional Standards Review Organization of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. And for Gayle, a high point was spending more than a decade as an assistant to vice-presidential wives Joan Mondale and Tipper Gore.
They supplemented those duties with a rigorous schedule of international volunteer work with the Earthwatch Institute, and family travels that took them to more than 80 countries — some, more than once!
An oversized wall map in Gayles’ studio gives some sense of the magnitude of their travels. “At first, we thought we would use color-coded pushpins to show everywhere we’d been,” says Gayle. “But then we ran out of colors.”
When it came time to relocate, their choice of an apartment in the Community Center was a matter of degrees — literally.
“When we first looked at South Franklin Circle, it was a snowy, blustery day,” Bill recalls. “Of course, coming from D.C., we weren’t used to that kind of weather! We initially thought we might like one of the garden homes. But then we figured if we wanted to take part in all the activities, we needed to be in the heart of all the action. Moving to an apartment has proven to be the right choice: We’re constantly busy, and it’s been a wonderful way to make new friends.”
Gayle agrees. “I can go to art classes, meditation, book club, strength training and then dinner downstairs at Radius. And every time we go to lectures, programs or films, we meet someone new. This is such a friendly place to be.”
While the couple clearly aren’t spending much time inside their apartment, they’ve taken care to transform their personal space into a soothing sanctuary, filled with family heirlooms, dozens of Gayle’s handsome ceramic pots, and items commemorating their travels. In the living room, a collage of 15 framed photo portraits is a reminder of their volunteer activities. “These are some of the wonderful people we met in Greece, Turkey, Nepal and Bhutan,” explains Gayle, who took the photographs. “They were so appealing and so welcoming, I wanted to have a record of those wonderful experiences.”
Also in the living room, an antique washstand anchors a travel-themed vignette that includes an oil painting from Venezuela, a black-on-black pottery from New Mexico, a warrior sculpture from Peru, and a collection of books authored by their son, archeologist Brian S. Bauer.
Two of the couple’s most prized possessions hold a particular place of honor. A framed Chagall print, purchased in Paris, hangs over the fireplace; and a “Blue Aurene” Steuben glass vase, designed by Frederick Carder, rests on the mantle. “It was a wedding gift to my aunt,” says Gayle. “It is very special to me.”
These days, the peripatetic couple supplement their ongoing travels with classes, lectures, programs and activities. For Bill, that includes golf, water aerobics, and walks. “We especially like to walk into Chagrin Falls for lunch,” he chuckles. “We need the reward!”
There is also time to spend with family. “We have a son, a grandson, and great grandchildren in Moreland Hills and Shaker Heights,” Gayle says. “We love being near them, and they love it, too!”
Often, says Bill, family time means playing four-generational ping-pong matches on the Community Center’s table. “One of our great granddaughters said it was embarrassing to be beaten by her great-grandmother,” he adds slyly.
“I think it was a great decision to move here,” Gayle sums up. “We wanted to move while we were still active enough to enjoy our family and make new friends — and we have.
“I am just so thankful we were able to do the things we love, and that we are still able to do them.”