I have lived in Western North Carolina since 2005 after living in New York for 12 years and South Florida for 35+ years. Drawn to the magic and beauty of the mountains and particularly the city of Asheville, I love living here and I love coming home when traveling. The overall theme on this blog will center around my experiences and journeys living in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
I began my journey to Western North Carolina in 2005. I am currently retired from my full time public relations profession and choosing to enjoy a post retirement career as a realtor in Asheville. I love my work as a volunteer in several organizations I feel passionate about and in philanthropic endeavors. I am a active runner, RV traveler & hiker- greatly enjoying the outdoor life the mountains provide me. My real passion and reason for being are my 3 children and 6 grandchildren. I travel as often as possible and as ‘Bubbe’ or Grandma, I enjoy giving my grandchildren trip experiences along with me.
When the pandemic came along many things changed in our lives . Reflection on new directions, unrealized goals, and thoughts & dreams that had not materialized yet were all on the table to consider acting on.
I chose to embark on a secondary, post retirement career in residential real estate. The pandemic period seemed like a good time to study, pass the licensing exams and take the plunge into a life of a realtor. My husband Peter was a career commercial realtor as was his father and mentor Joe Oppenheimer. None of our children or his sibling’s children followed in the path of Dad or Grandpa Joe as a realtor. The thought was always on my mind about this Oppenheimer legacy of realtors not continuing into the next generation, particularly after Peter passed in 2014. As a 71 year old studying and engaging into a new skill and mind set was not necessarily planned, nor easy by any stretch, but I persevered and accomplished the first step in this new journey– passing both the national and state exams. After researching and interviewing with several real estate firms to hang my license with, I choose Nest Realty. My friend for many years in Jewish Asheville life, Natalie Shaw encouraged me to join Nest and then became a mentor and guide in my real estate journey along with the owners of Nest in Asheville, Angie and Glenn Cullen.
I then became a SRES- Senior Real Estate Specialist designation from the National Association of Realtors. As a retiree, one who has downsized and bought and sold 3 homes in Asheville, I felt I could bring my own personal experiences to my clients in this way.
It became obvious to me that life as a realtor was really no different than many other endeavors I have dived into over the years–a 48 year public relations career, business owner, public servant, marathon runner, philanthropist and volunteer. I like to serve and help others. I also love seeing other’s dreams come into reality and to reach goals that I set for myself. This all takes a willingness to take a risk, dive in, sometimes faltering & being unsure, and then breaking through- finding success and satisfaction.
I am on this journey and seeing where it takes me!
Beginning when I was a young child my Mom and Dad, Evelyn and Earl Sturm, along with my older sister Linda, vacationed in the 1950s, and 1960’s at Pinewood Lodge on Fishtrap Lake in Boulder Junction WI. Together, our parents embarked on building their retirement home on property acquired from the lodge. In 1980, they retired to the lake house full time. Their years in Boulder Junction were filled with friends, fishing, church activities, and renting out an additional vacation cottage on their property on Fishtrap Lake. Dad served on the Town Board and was an active Lion. Spending winters in Florida, their lives were filled with many similar activities. After Mom passed in 1993 in Florida, Dad remained an active member of the Boulder Junction and Bonita Springs FL communities.
Softball was the one constant no matter where Dad was. ‘Earl the Pearl’ as he was known, played on the Boulder senior team for another 15 years after Mom’s passing, earning two World Series rings from his senior league play in Florida. No doubt an ‘icon’ would describe his reputation in the senior softball. world.
Dad passed in November of 2015 at the age of 96 . The following June, 2016 our family honored his memory by dedicating the ballfield in Boulder Junction, allowing for needed enhancements and improvements to be done to the field.
Earl and Evelyn’s Grandkids- Lt to rt: Will, Gail, Debbie, Robert and Aaron breakgrounding ground for the enhancements at Sturm Memorial Field.
The grandkids at the Sturm Memorial Field Dedication, a new ballfield sign and a plaque about Earl hung proudly on the ballfield’s concession stand.
A New Project
In September, 2017 my sister Linda and I went back to Boulder Junction. We spoke to many of the softball players Dad played with, businesses and community leaders in Boulder about what may be other needed amenities to Sturm Memorial Field and adjacent park area. A public restroom was overwhelming the answer. Who would benefit from this improvement? The users of the field and entire park including the playground, skateboard park, and basketball & tennis courts, as well as the bikers and users of the Boulder Bike Trail whose trailhead is adjacent to the field, would benefit– residents and visitors alike. Linda and I at that point, planted the seed with our families to embark upon another project.
Sturm Memorial Field area, the bike trail and trailhead of Bike Trail System
Sturm Family & Friends Building Community Was Created
We create an entity called “Sturm Family & Friends Building Community in Boulder Junction” comprised of the extended Sturm family – the Jenner, Oppenheimer, Cicak and Lawrence families. It was decided to enter into a public/ private partnership with the help of the extended Sturm family & friends, the community as a whole, the Town of Boulder Junction and the Boulder Junction Community Foundation as our fiduciary and administrative partner.
After much research, the family engaged a company who builds public restrooms called Romtec based in Roseburg Oregon. Romtec created the custom design plans with our input, supplied, then delivered the ‘build on site’ materials. The plan was to build the restroom with an all- volunteer crew to save a tremendous amount of money.
Rendering of public restroom project at Sturm Memorial Field
Fundraising goal of $65,000 is doing well!
We embarked upon the official fundraising campaign on July 1, 2019 with a goal of $65,000 and put a final exclamation point to its conclusion this past spring 2020– not only meeting but exceeding our financial goal.
Our donors included The Sturm Friends and Family group, friends and family of Earl and Evelyn Sturm, the businesses and residents of Boulder Junction, a Facebook fundraiser and grants secured from area non-profits. Inscribed legacy bricks were sold for a brick walkway to be installed on site and separate donors funded the costs for a water bottle filling station, a water fountain, 2 bike racks and a bike repair station.
A $5000 grant was received by the Boulder Junction Community Foundation in addition to $5000 grant donations from the Dairyman’s Foundation and the Boulder Junction Lions Club.
Lt to rt: Parks Board Chair and Town Supervisor Laura Bertch, Mary Van Grinsven from the Community Foundation, myself, Town Chairman Dennis Reuss and standing in the back John Altschwager, President of the Boulder Junction Community Foundation
Drumming up interest at Musky Day in Boulder Junction August, 2019
When the ground thawed enough in the spring of 2020, the septic field was laid as well as the concrete pads
Our construction manager was Dennis Reuss, the Boulder Junction Town Chairman. The construction team was comprised of volunteers from the community who had experience in building construction, town workers and the Lions Club who painted the building and the concession stand on the site. Mary Van Grinsven from the Boulder Junction Community Foundation was our family’s ‘boots on the ground’ manager and laission with the Community Foundation. There were many volunteers and tradespeople in the town, along with Mary whose hard work and support made this project possible.
Lt to rt: Me, Mary Van Grinsven ,Dennis Duke, Dennis Reuss and my sister Linda
As fall approached the building really took shape!
Legacy and Honor
Over 120 individual donors participated in the fundraising campaign. Top donors were recognized on a wall plaque. 46 families, individuals and businesses purchased bricks of honor now on a Legacy Walkway.
A few memories on the Legacy Walk of our Dad
Additional amenities on the restroom and site were purchased and named separately by families and businesses. Two bike racks, a water bottle filling station and water fountain, and a Deluxe Bike Repair station will now make this an important stop along the bike trail and for the park users!
Additional amenities to the restroom
COVID Restroom Dedication – October 12, 2020
It was a rain-soaked cold day in Boulder Junction but we managed to pull off the Dedication and Ribbon Cutting with a ‘Plan B’ under cover, in spite of the weather and the constrictions COVID forced upon us. So many wonderful, committed folks attended live and watched our live streamed feed and video now on our family website www.sturmfamilyandfriends.com. Mission accomplished. A job well done by the team who made it happen!
Dedication, ribbon cutting and the handoff off the toilet paper from our family to the town