95-year-old flies again on Martha's VIneyard
Martha's Vineyard Times File Photo
Two years ago, MaryEllen Yakeley relocated to the Island from her home in San Diego to be closer to her daughter, Stephanie Danforth of Chilmark. Her new home is the assisted living floor at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
Ms. Danforth was a bit skeptical about how active her mother would be in her new surroundings, especially since she had lived a very independent life for the last 30 years. But Ms. Yakeley keeps a busy schedule at Windemere, which her daughter believes is due to the "stupendous" work of recreation director Betsy Burmeister and her assistant, Mary Holmes.
In addition to volunteering in the gift shop, Ms. Yakeley plays bingo, shares formal tea, and participates in group discussions of current affairs. She enjoys trips out to dine and attend concerts.
To top it off, late last summer, Ms. Yakeley was granted a wish by the recreation department to take a biplane tour of the Island with Mike Creato of Classic Aviators at Katama Airfield.
Ms. Yakeley, now 95, had her pilot's license some 70 years ago, at a time when few women flew. With a little help from Mr. Creato, Ms. Burmeister (on her day off) and Ms. Danforth, Ms. Yakeley made her way into the observer's seat, alongside her daughter, and away they went.
"We were treated to an hour-long flight around the whole perimeter of the Island," Ms. Danforth said. "Our Island is so beautiful to begin with, but from our open cockpit plane on a cloud-free late-summer morning, it was magical!"
Ms. Danforth has high praise for Windemere. "I cannot say enough about the care that my mother receives, " she said. "I was in the medical profession for over 20 years and I cannot speak highly enough about the daily care performed by the attentive and loving staff."