Pat Gibble is a new resident at Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, yet remembers when a part of the campus was woods, meadows and a vision. In fact, it was her job to market what are now Masonic Village’s retirement living options before they were even built. Pat was the marketing manager at a time when the campus was still called “the Masonic Homes” and retirement living was a new concept. One of her biggest tasks was to sell the new “independent living” options, which included 16 cottages, 220 apartments and a clubhouse.
Pat started working at the Masonic Village as the executive secretary to the executive director in 1972 and later became the administrative assistant to CEO Joseph Murphy. She became the very first marketing manager at Elizabethtown in 1989. Her job was to share the vision of the community with perspective residents.
“It was hard trying to sell something that wasn’t there. It was just a hole in the ground,” Pat said. “I remember taking potential residents up on a mound of dirt and saying to them, ‘this is where it’s going to be. Can you picture yourself living here surrounded by the beauty of the grounds?’”
Eventually, they were able to see models of one of the cottages and an apartment, which also served as the Marketing Offices. After actual buildings were built, Pat said it became much easier to sell what was already there.
Pat also traveled to Masonic Lodges throughout Pennsylvania and even to Florida, where Pennsylvania Masons had retired, to share the new concept of the Masonic Village, showing renderings and a slide presentation. At the time, Masonic Village living was only available to Pennsylvania Freemasons and their family members.
After Pat retired from 25 years of working at Masonic Village, she and her husband Don decided to sell their house and 95% of their belongings and travel the country in an RV. Their friends said it wouldn’t last, but they continued this lifestyle for seven years and said it was the best time of their married life.
Eventually, they made Cottonwood, Arizona, their home for 14 years. As much as they enjoyed the beauty of the area and the weather there, they still missed the changes of seasons and beautiful Lancaster County.
“Every time we would come back for a visit, I couldn’t believe the growth,” Pat said. “I still can’t … What [the Masonic Village] is now is amazing.”
Even before she retired, Pat knew that eventually, she would be back to live at Masonic Village. She recalls telling Joseph Murphy before she retired that she hoped he would still be at Masonic Village when she returned as a resident, and he was.
“All along I knew,” Pat said. “I knew when the time came, we would be living here. We didn’t look anywhere else.”
After years of marketing Masonic Village to others, Pat said she is very glad she and Don didn’t wait longer before moving to Masonic Village. Pat always told potential residents not to wait, so they could enjoy all of what the campus has to offer. She said she is glad they followed her own advice.
Pat and Don will soon be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, making this year at the Masonic Village particularly special for them. Pat has also enjoyed watching the community and its population of friendly, neighborly residents expand over the years. Masonic Village at Elizabethtown now has 665 apartments, 390 cottages and 12 townhomes (with more to come within the year) for retirement living.
“I just absolutely feel blessed to be here,” she said.
About the Author: Holly Hendershot is a public relations associate at Masonic Villages and a senior at Waynesburg University