This is the second time Dave Colton has retired — and he’s starting to get really good at it.
His farewell party in the Willows Dining Hall at Juniper Village had two cakes, three different flavors of ice cream and a buffet line that probably could have gotten away with featuring a single dish as long as that single dish was the bacon-wrapped scallops.
The opulence shouldn’t have come as a surprise. After 25 years on the job — split somewhere down the middle between Juniper’s recreation therapy and community relations and marketing departments — Colton is what you might call a company man, although “entertainer” might be a better fit.
Everybody loves Dave. He’s kind of a celebrity. We’re really going to miss him.
“Everybody loves Dave. He’s kind of a celebrity. We’re really going to miss him,” Jill McKenrick, Juniper’s director of connections, said.
He taught exercise classes, led talks on literature and the arts and occasionally stole 15 minutes from the day to chat sports with some of the other staff.
“I’ve never had a bad day here. I’ve never felt ‘oh, I have to go to work,’ ” Colton said.
He joined the ranks at Juniper Village in 1992, shortly after calling it quits on a 21-year career at Penn State. Colton thought he was ready to retire — that lasted about six weeks.
I’d say they were like uncles and aunts to me but tomorrow’s my 82nd birthday so now they’re like brothers and sisters to me.
Colton was in his 60s when he showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for his first day of work at the retirement community. He threw himself into preparing for each of his talks, reading up on poetry, music and current events.
Among the residents, he gradually aged into the role of peer.
“I’d say they were like uncles and aunts to me, but tomorrow’s my 87th birthday so now they’re like brothers and sisters to me,” Colton said.
Janice Johnson has lived at Juniper Village for about a year. Colton occasionally gives her a ride to services at State College Presbyterian Church.
“He just enjoys doing for people,” Johnson said.