He spends his time reading and writing. She loves gliding around the ice rink. Together, they enjoy a custom lifestyle that meets both of their needs.
An introverted academic and former Dean of a graduate theological school, Bill Murry is a published author who still writes daily.
Barbara Murry is an extroverted former counselor and accomplished skater who started the sport on a whim at age 62. They may seem like opposites, but for more than 50 years, Bill and Barbara have been drawn to each other—and have created a rewarding—and balanced—life together.
Several years ago, the Murrys decided it was time to give up the burdens that come with a single-family home and focus on pursuing their passions. They moved to Ingleside at King Farm, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Rockville, MD.
The Murrys quickly found that Ingleside fits their diverse needs. “When we decided to move here, I knew I’d have a good time, and I thought that Bill, who is very much an introvert, would just do what he always did—read and write,” recalled Barbara. “We had only been here about three days when he said to me, ‘Who are we going to eat with tonight?’ So this community is really fulfilling the social needs of both of us. It’s amazing.”
One of the most remarkable aspects of the community is the caliber of their fellow residents, according to the Murrys. “The people here are incredible. So many of them have had very distinguished careers,” noted Bill, who cited a former cinematographer, nuclear physicist, and aerospace scientist among his friends.
In addition to meeting their social needs, Ingleside also gives the Murrys peace of mind. “Knowing that any care we may need in the future will be available right here was absolutely critical to us when we chose this community,” Barbara explained. Bill added, “We haven’t had to use the health care very much yet, but we are so grateful that it is there.”
Another thing the couple is eternally grateful for: that a common interest in religious studies brought them together more than five decades ago.
A native of Missouri, Bill went to college in Oklahoma before attending Yale Divinity School. When he became one of the chaplains of Columbia University, he met Barbara, who was an intern from a nearby seminary. The couple married shortly thereafter. They went on to have three sons and now have four grandchildren.
After a few years in campus ministry, Bill decided he wanted to be more actively involved in the university. He obtained a Ph.D. in theology and culture and became an Assistant Professor at Goucher College in Maryland. When he received a post at the University of Manitoba, the family moved to Canada for five years before returning to Missouri.
During their time in Missouri, Bill decided that he no longer wanted to practice the Baptist faith of his childhood and became a Unitarian Minister. He held posts in the Unitarian church in both Indiana and Bethesda, MD.
After 17 years with a church in Bethesda, Bill returned to academics and became the President and Academic Dean of a graduate theological school in Chicago. Seven years later, he retired, and the Murrys quickly decided they wanted to return to the state that felt like home: Maryland.
Barbara grew up in nearby Delaware. She attended Wilmington Friends School and Wellesley College. After graduating with a degree in religion, Barbara went on to attend seminary. It was during that time that she met Bill while serving as a campus ministry intern.
Shortly after graduating, Barbara started teaching religion at a private school. However, much like Bill, she decided that she wanted to be more involved in academic life, instead of on the periphery, as campus ministers tend to be. When their three children were older, Barbara returned to school and got a degree in counseling. She spent the bulk of her career as a career counselor and an academic adviser at both the University of Maryland and the University of Chicago. Along the way, she received a Ph.D. in Student Affairs, which helped her better understand and meet the developmental needs of the college students she served.
It was while working at the University of Chicago that Barbara developed an interest in ice skating. “They built an outdoor skating rink right outside the building where I was working,” she recalled. “I started thinking about skating and asked a friend to teach me. He introduced me to his coach, and I started taking lessons at 62 years old. I was hooked.”
Within a few years, Barbara was competing—and winning. “I went to six adult national competitions and brought home a few gold medals,” she said.
While she no longer competes, Barbara continues to skate almost every day and now focuses on ice dancing. “You don’t expect, in retirement, to be doing something so challenging and so rewarding,” she acknowledged. “I enjoy it tremendously. I hope to be ice dancing into my 80s.”
For Bill, retirement has meant more time to pursue his research and writing, which centers on religious humanism. “Religious humanism differs from secular humanism in its emphasis on belonging to a caring community that is supportive and encouraging and educational,” he said.
Bill has written several books on religious humanism and its practical applications. In fact, he published his second book on the topic, Reason and Reverence, after retiring. “The idea is to make religious humanism something that many people will find compatible with their own belief system and that can serve as an avenue to a better way of life,” Bill explained.
In addition to continuing to write about religious humanism, Bill is also helping his new friends and neighbors explore the topic through both lectures and discussion groups. Following a well-attended lecture on the subject, he was asked by residents to form a discussion group, which is so popular it has now been split into two groups.
Both active and engaged, Bill and Barbara are thrilled to have found a retirement community that supports their unique lifestyles. “When people tell me they aren’t ready to move to a retirement community, I always ask them what they are waiting for,” Barbara said. “They always say that it’s too soon, but all of a sudden it’s going to be too late. And that’s sad. People need to think of moving not in terms of what they give up—like their house—but instead in terms of what they gain. I have gained so much.”
At Ingleside at King Farm, Bill and Barbara have gained a lifestyle that is as balanced—and as fulfilling—as their relationship. Every day, they prove that while opposites may attract, positive experiences appeal to us all.
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