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Resident Stories

We are pleased to present some stories from our residents.  We hope you enjoy hearing from them.


Elizabeth "Betty" Carlsen

Years as Webster at Rye resident: 15Betty Carlsen

Background:  I’m originally from Eliot, Maine.  I was a homemaker right out of high school. I spent 57 years with my husband, and was a mother of 6. My older son passed away from cancer, same with his dad. We have a strong family bond. I lived across from Webster, on Mountain View Terrace for 47 years here in Rye. I watched Webster being built. My husband and I used to kid about how our children could send us to Webster and it wouldn’t take much effort. All we needed to do was cross the road! I ended up moving here after my husband passed away 15 years ago.

I have ten grandsons and one granddaughter. I also have over 200 teddy bears. They’re my little friends. It gives the grandchildren something to give grandma. I love them all!

What drew you to Webster at Rye?

It’s a wonderful place for senior citizens. They have many activities. I never thought I would write poems, but I started writing in the activity classes. I had no experience with writing, ever. I never even tried it. Who knew you could start these types of activities at 85 years old? I’ll be 93 in November. I have a lifetime of memories to look back on and write about and I’m glad Webster has afforded me the opportunity. It keeps me busy. I sent in three poems in to the Portsmouth Herald, and one of them got published! Imagine that… A published author at my age! One of them was about my chair, and one about my friend with Alzheimer’s, which is the one that got published. I like rubbing it in to my kids that I got a poem published.

What do you enjoy about being here at Webster at Rye?

My favorite part about living here is that it is home to me. Everybody is like a big family, which makes it very comfortable. I’m pretty much on my own – was flipping my own mattress up until last year. I don’t need a lot of services, but the staff is helpful, and I’m so glad they are here because when the time comes, it’ll be nice to have them help me with things I may not be able to do on my own. But right now, I’m doing well for my age. I could’ve gone with my kids, but my husband is buried here my church is here. This was the retirement home when I came here, and I’m very happy here. It’s going to be wonderful once the new building is done. It’ll give everybody else a chance to have a place to live, and the community aspect of Webster is great. I’ve gotten to know, and get along with everybody. I’ve made good friends here. My kids are happy that I’m here because they know they don’t need to worry about me. I’ve been so very happy here.

Barbara Ripley

Years as Webster at Rye resident: 15

Background: Prior to coming to Webster at Rye, I lived in Peabody Massachusetts. I was a nurse and my husband was an engineer. I loved nursing. All told, I think it was a total of 20 years that I was in that profession. I went into training back in 1986; I was mostly part time because I had two kids. They were my primary focus – family is the most important thing to me. I have four wonderful grandchildren. My daughter has two girls and my son has two boys. They were all here for my 90th birthday. I couldn’t have been any happier.

What drew you to Webster at Rye? In 1987 my parents came here, and my father was here for a total of 10 years – a good long time. My husband and I came every week to visit them and we said that when we got old this is where we wanted to come. There was a place in Peabody, but we just didn’t like it. This was the place for us.

What do you enjoy about being here at Webster at Rye? I’m very independent, and can continue that lifestyle comfortably here. That fact makes life easy. I enjoy getting involved in all the activities that Webster has to offer. I took oil painting for a while, and I always have a piece to put into the annual art show. I have recently been working on my ceramics craft. We make plates, cups, and jewelry. My favorite part of living here are the programs that make you think – like trivia, and jeopardy, those kinds of things. They’ve certainly met my needs, and they keep me as busy as I want to be. There’s also time for me to read my historical novel and play on the iPad – my downtime… (laughing.)  I would definitely recommend Webster at Rye. They now have assisted living, which I don’t need, but if I do need it, it’s available, and that’s important to me. The care, the options, activities – it really makes Webster the ideal place for me to be.

Mary Brygider

Years as Webster at Rye resident: 2 1/2 years


I’m from Massachusetts originally, but moved to Exeter when I married my late husband. We lived there in the same house for over 50 years. I worked before I retired and came here. I was a secretary and did bookkeeping. I spent my spare time golfing, and I still long to play. My favorite golfer is Arnold Palmer; I have an autographed photo of him. I had to sort of give up on playing as I had broken bones; my wrists, my leg, both humorous bones… The whole leg from the knee down is metal. It looks like a ladder on the x-ray. I can walk though! I can do most things except golf. Before all of this I had a minor stroke, and I’ve had a heart attack. I don’t feel like I’ve had all of that damage. Sometimes the girls tell me it’s about the way you look at it. All in all, I feel pretty good.

What drew you to Webster at Rye?  My sister was a resident here next door for eight or nine years. I’d visit her and bring her goodies and as I got older, I thought about what would happen to me – because I was alone due to my husband passing away. I saw the good care that my sister was getting and it made me consider Webster. I got to know a lot of the aides just from visiting with her. When I broke my leg I knew that I couldn’t stay at home because I had steps there. So I applied to Webster, waited a while, and I finally was accepted. I was delighted. My sister was still here at the time. I could visit her everyday when I first came. She had some dementia, though she always knew who I was. Sometimes the visits were long and sometimes they were short, but it was great because I could just walk over and see her.

What do you enjoy about being here at Webster at Rye?  There is never a dull moment! There are two activity girls; we are really blessed. They’re so much fun, and, thus, make everything fun for us. I’ve picked up watercolor painting since moving here. I saw it on the calendar, and I considered going and I did and I’m amazed at myself. It’s a great feeling to know that you can do something that you never thought you could do. I never realized I was artistic. All my life, I didn’t know. Now, I’m doing it. For someone who could never draw a straight line, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. My favorite thing about this place is the people. The aides are helpful, thoughtful, and friendly. They’re so, so helpful. Anything you ask for they are right there for you. They treat everybody the same, and keep you busy. If you need something or want something they’ll do it for you in a heartbeat. I’m extremely happy here, and if someone asked for my recommendation, I’d give it to them in an instant.

Shirley Phillips

Years as Webster at Rye resident: 15 years

Background: I’m a happily retired elementary school teacher, who just turned 100 this past September. I taught for nearly 20 years – during my professional career only taking time away to get married, and when I had my son. I had him late in life, at 40 years of age. I stayed home until he was in the 7th grade, and then went back and got to work at the school in Groveland. My son still comes and visits me every week – and he has blessed me with two grandchildren. Oh, and besides my family, I love flowers, birds, and nature. I have a couple of different birdhouses outside my window here, so the birds visit daily. I enjoy speaking and singing with them (laughing.)

What drew you to Webster at Rye?

Right when I walked in to Webster at Rye for the first time it appealed to me. Not too big and all on one floor. The staff was so nice, warm, and inviting. And Tom Argue (CEO/Administrator) is the nicest man. He greeted me immediately and called me by my name. That meant a lot. And he still does it! It still means a lot. He’s an exceptional face of this organization.

What do you enjoy about being here at Webster at Rye?

There’s not much NOT to like. I love how it’s small, and it’s friendly. Webster at Rye has a lot of things that I’ve participated in over the years. Bus trips, crafts, adventures, etc. I’ve slowed down a little bit because of my vision. My eyesight is terrible. I miss my sight more than anything, but I get along, and the girls around here help me out tremendously. I enjoyed those things though, when I participated. I like living here very much. Everybody has been so nice. I seem to keep mentioning that, but it’s extremely important. In my experience, they rise up and go beyond the call of duty. This is right where I want to live, which is what I thought right when I walked through the front door on that initial visit.

Tom Vaughan

Years as Webster at Rye resident: 1 year

Background: I grew up in Somerville, Massachusetts. I have three daughters and a few grandkids. Throughout my life I’ve spent a lot of time close to heaven. I worked with a lot of microwaves – and I’m not talking about the ones shaped like a box that you cook in. I was a microwave engineer that designed and initiated a lot of satellite antennas on some of the tallest mountains. I did a lot of traveling installing these antennas across the country. So yeah, I spent a lot of time really high up in the sky.  Scarey to some, exhilarating to me. I was real, real close to heaven. In fact, I have a picture of me with King Kong at the top of the Empire State building. He’s a friend of mine.

What drew you to Webster at Rye? One of my daughters showed me Webster at Rye. She brought me up here for a tour. I was in need of a place to relax – to decompress. I noticed immediately that I could accomplish that here at Webster. The staff was available to residents. I didn’t know that I’d need too much attention at first, but I liked that they were available, and accommodating. That’s important when you’re at the point in your life when you’re looking to make this type of move.

What do you enjoy about being here at Webster at Rye? The availability of the staff. They’re so accommodating and, well, they put up with me… (laughing.) I haven’t learned any new skills to speak of, though the option is there for that. But this is retirement, right? I’m just busy relaxing. I did enough in my life. I’ve earned it. There’s variety, and it’s not a rigid place by any means, which I appreciate. But, yeah, my favorite part about this place is that I can do just as I wish: relax. Did I say that yet? There’s no pressure to do anything else… Oh, and they have great bacon here. Nice and salty. I would recommend it.