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While food and fitness are on the list of perks at Patriots Colony, friendships mean the most

Boyd and Sharon Nix can easily rattle off a list of what they love about loving in Patriots Colony At Williamsburg, a Riverside Health System continuing care retirement community designed for those who share the common bond of service to country.

He admires the view from their fourth-floor apartment; she enjoys flowers but loves that she’s not the one digging in a garden to plant them.

She swims and walks; he’s a fan of pickleball and weights — they can do both thanks to a state-of-the-art fitness center and 90 acres of protected woodlands right outside their front door.

“You’ve got everything here,” Sharon stresses, and she includes three different types of accommodations on that list: independent living, assisted living and a memory unit. 

“We don’t want our kids to worry about where we’re going to be one day,” she says. “That’s already taken care of.”

Yet as highly as they speak of the amenities, including what Sharon describes as “the fabulous food,” what most drew the Air Force couple most to the community that takes a holistic approach to wellness is the people who are their neighbors and friends.

Boyd Nix was active in the Virginia Military Officers Association (MOAA) years before he became president of the state chapter in 2020. He and Sharon attended frequent chapter meetings at Patriots Colony, and one question surfaced regularly:

“When are you and Sharon going to move here?”

In 2016, they made the decision they never regretted. Their first night, they met for dinner in the Patriots Colony formal dining room with their “sponsors” — a couple assigned to newcomers — and were pleasantly surprised when a second couple was also waiting at the table.

The men started reminiscing about their time in the Air Force and learned they were in the same squadron in Vietnam. Their paths hadn’t crossed, and they discovered why. One flew day missions and the other, night missions.

“I was sleeping while he was flying,” Boyd Nix said. “Meeting them was a good sign of things to come. The great thing is you sit down with somebody you don’t know, and they immediately start talking to you. They ask where you’re from and where you are assigned and lots of times you realize you’ve crossed paths with them or someone they know.”

At their first happy hour, neither of the Nixes recognized a face when they walked in the door. A four-star general  across the room waved them over, the start of another friendship.

Nobody goes by rank at Patriots Colony — when couples drive through the gate, their rank stops. But uniforms are encouraged for special occasions. The staff at Patriots Colony even produces a video for all of its servicemembers that chronicles their military career. The videos are kept at William and Mary archives, and each family receives a copy.

It’s another bonus to living in Patriots Colony.

“We love it here,” Sharon Nix said. “We highly recommend it.”