For Ray and Victoria Greenleaf, living in Walnut Creek began as an arrangement of convenience, but before long, it became a love affair. While it was their previous marriages that originally brought each of them to live in Walnut Creek, it is the lifestyle that has kept them both in the iconic East Bay City over the years. “We were captivated by all the city had to offer,” recalls Victoria. They fell in love with the amazing outdoors, the arts and culture, the small-town feel with big-city amenities, the camaraderie of their nearby extended family and friends, and easy access to other parts of the Bay Area. In essence, Walnut Creek has come to offer a total life experience for the couple—one they have no intention of giving up.
Originally from San Francisco, Ray is a native of the Bay Area. With a political science degree from the University of California, Berkeley, he spent the 1960s taking part in the colorful activism Berkeley became famous for at the time. “From free speech marches to civil rights events, I got to experience being on the front lines of social change,” Ray recalls. Later, he earned a degree in psychotherapy from John F. Kennedy University (JFKU), which prepared him for the next chapter of his life. In 1993, he became a Professor and Chair of Transpersonal Counseling at JFKU, a position he held until his recent retirement in 2015.
Victoria found her way to the San Francisco Bay Area after growing up in New York City. With undergraduate and graduate degrees in French, her first career was as a French language teacher. Deciding later that she needed “something a little more grounded,” Victoria earned an MBA from Golden Gate University and went to work in the financial industry. Eventually, she made yet another major career pivot, this time earning a graduate degree in psychotherapy and putting her skills to work at the nonprofit Regional Center of the East Bay (RCEB), where she provided services for adults with developmental and learning disabilities.
As fate would have it, it was at JFKU that Ray and Victoria first crossed paths. Today, the happily married couple shares a love for traveling, gardening and jazz. They are both members of the nonprofit organization SF JAZZ, where they work to cultivate appreciation for jazz in the Bay Area, and Ray volunteers at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley.
Having balanced well-rounded educations, careers, and volunteer work, Ray and Victoria have earned their retirement. Through personal experience with family members, they are no strangers to the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) lifestyle. “We have often felt that, when the time is right, the CCRC model is right for us,” says Victoria. They noticed that their family members who moved to a CCRC lived healthier, more active lives—something that is a priority for the couple. Likewise, Victoria and Ray have both observed through their professional work the negative effects that isolation can have on people as they age. “Living in a CCRC provides opportunities for us to stay curious, to continue growing, and to have fun through a variety of programs and social activities,” says Victoria. She and Ray also want to have agency in their lives—control over the decisions about when and where to move. Making the decision now to embrace independent living has maximized their options. Not least, Ray cherishes the freedom that comes with the CCRC lifestyle. “As we’ve had more time to travel and enjoy being away from home, the house has become more of a burden,” he says. “We are looking forward, especially now, to the freedom of being able to do whatever we want without the worry about the yard and the house.”
Before signing on the dotted line, however, the Greenleafs did their homework. They looked at a number of first-class residences in the area, but there was something very special about Viamonte—something that set it apart. And thanks to the Viamonte staff, Ray and Victoria have enjoyed the selection process tremendously. “Staci and her crew have been helpful and gracious and have been there every step of the way, making this transition easy,” says Victoria. “And the special mixers have given us a chance to mingle with our future neighbors—people with whom we have much in common and already enjoy being around. We look forward to moving in.” The couple is also impressed by the clean slate that comes with new construction, the modern architecture and design, amenities such as the indoor/outdoor pool and fitness center, and the community’s efforts to keep residents at the forefront of technology.
“Viamonte represents a new paradigm on the West Coast,” says Ray. “We’re seizing the opportunity now so we don’t miss the chance to be part of this state-of-the-art community. It will be a wonderful addition to Walnut Creek—the city we have already called home for decades.”