Lifelong Health

After moving 27 times in 40 years, Navy couple is home to stay at Patriots Colony

When the Doeblers moved for the 26th time in 2001, they announced they were never moving again. They loved their 4,000-square-foot dream home in Ford’s Colony in Williamsburg.

In 40 years, the Navy couple has lived in California and Maine, Madrid and London, Guam and Hawaii, to name a few.

“We were very healthy, and all of the sudden, we woke up one morning and said, ‘We’re 77. We better move!’ “ said Carol Doebler. “That’s almost the way it happened.”

Practically speaking, the large house didn’t make sense anymore. The upkeep and maintenance weighed on Jim Doebler, whose 33-year military career including working for the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps and a promotion to rear admiral and commander of the Atlantic Division of NAVFAC, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command.

What did make sense: Patriots Colony At Williamsburg, the Riverside Health System continuing care retirement community designed for those who share the common bond of service to country.

In 2017, the Doeblers downsized to an apartment less than half the size of their house. They don’t miss the extra space.

“Jim tells me every other day how much he loves our apartment,” Carol said.

“We’re very happy we made the decision and we made it when we did,” Jim confirmed.

Carol agreed, adding, “Don’t wait until you’re ailing and then say, ‘We better go and get on the list or try to move.’ If you come here when you’re healthy, you make all your friends and connections. Patriots Colony is a community that feels like family and they make it feel like home.”

Both keep a full calendar that includes exercising, bridge, movie nights and socializing with a community full of friends. “There is so much to do that, truthfully, we have more social life here than before we moved here,” Carol said.

Another perk: “Every night you’re dining out,” Jim said. There are always welcome faces in the dining room; any chair is an invitation to sit down, strike up conversation and usually realize you share a connection.”

Carol also raves about the food. 

“It’s not considered institutional food at all; I call it four- or five-star,” she said. 

Her favorites include pork loin with orange sauce, sirloin and her standby, porcini ravioli. 

Jim is chairman of the Patriots Colony Resident Association; Carol has served on Residents Council. 

“You feel like you have a voice in what’s happening here,” she said.

The Doeblers appreciate the warmth of the staff, too. 

“They knew our names the day we moved in,” Carol said. 

 When Jim was seriously ill a year and a half ago, Carol was heartened by the overwhelming response that supported her during the difficult time.

He’s healthy again, and the Doeblers, married for 61 years, couldn’t be happier.

They have two daughters, five granddaughters and two great grandchildren. 

Carol noted, “Our children think of our moving here as a gift.”