Bobbie Riddell (L) and Marion Sandell (R), lifelong friends.

Dynamic Duo. A Lifelong Friendship Continues at The Covington in Aliso Viejo

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In the 1950s, Bobbie Riddell loved to play volleyball on Laguna Beach. Every chance she got, Bobbie was down by the water, sand in her toes, digging for balls and spiking winners. “It was a different time back then,” Bobbie says, “and so was the beach.”

Less crowded and not so developed, there was room to breathe and a sense of freedom for a generation only a decade removed from World War II. The Big Bopper was on the radio, Rebel Without a Cause was in movie halls and Elvis was everywhere, defining the decade’s youthful exuberance.

One beautiful, sun-kissed day in 1957, Bobbie and friends were playing volleyball when another young woman approached. Her name was Marion Sandell. Marion said she had not played much volleyball before and was not particularly good, but asked if she could join in. Bobbie being Bobbie, immediately said Yes. True to her word, Marion was not particularly good, but she had a determination that Bobbie admired. Such are the moments that beget life-long friendships.

Bobbie and Marion quickly became a fearsome two-person volleyball team and played together for over a decade. As loyal teammates on the beach they had each other’s back, but off the sand, their friendship and commitment ran even deeper.

There are so many activities to choose from and always something new to learn.

In 1963, when Bobbie was pregnant with her second child, Marion accompanied her to the hospital. “She was more nervous than I was,” Bobbie says. Together, they celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations while providing support during life’s challenging moments. “We were always there for each other,” Marion says.

After a dozen years as the volleyball queens of Laguna Beach, Marion and Bobbie started playing tennis. “We could get quite competitive sometimes,” Marion says. To this day the women still debate who had the better serve. “I did,” Bobbie laughs.

Bobbie and Marion say they enjoy the lush gardens and walking paths at The Covington every day.

Eventually these natural athletes decided to take up biking. Both bought brand new bicycles and for the next 15 years did a twice weekly 20-mile ride. “Staying active kept us healthy, but it was also just plain fun,” Marion says.

Later in life, Marion’s first husband passed. A few years later Marion met new husband Bob and she settled into a new life. Then Bobbie lost her husband. Through it all, the women continued to remain close friends but for Bobbie, loneliness began to creep in, and she found her house too much for her.

In 2019, Marion and husband Bob moved into The Covington. Then, in 2021, Bobbie decided it may be time for her to consider making a change too. “Within one month I sold my house and moved in,” says Bobbie. “I miss my house, but it was absolutely the right decision; one I probably should have made sooner.”

Now the women are together again, sharing their life-long friendship – and they are as busy as ever. The Covington’s approach to proactive health and wellness ensures the women have numerous ways to stay active. “I especially enjoy our exercise sessions with Neal, the trainer at our community,” Bobbie says.

Physical activity is just one aspect of living well and The Covington ensures residents have a variety of ways to stay sharp and be at their best. Since arriving, Marion has taken up ceramics and enjoys the many live-music concerts put on by the community. “Honestly, I do more here than I ever did at home,” she says.

The community spirit of The Covington is strong and both women have never shied away from trying something new. “We both play bridge but another resident, our friend Jade, invited us to try Mah Jong,” say Bobbie. “It’s my new thing, I love it.”

At this stage of her journey, Marion says she is grateful for the wellness, well-being, and peace of mind The Covington provides her. “I never thought I would be this happy at this age.” Bobbie concurs and says that being able to spend time with her best friend is the icing on the cake. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The Covington is a member of the ECS family of communities for active seniors. Founded on four commitments – choice, creativity, confidence, and connection, ECS has been at the forefront of nonprofit senior living in Southern California since 1923.

Choice

At The Covington, your journey can be as adventurous or easy-going as you want. A maintenance-free lifestyle means freedom to create your future, pursue your passions and enjoy active independence. Our residences, villas, and cottages offer floor plans for all needs, freeing you from the worry of having to move again. With services to ensure your comfort and mobility, and amenities to keep you active and inspire learning, here, life is what you make it.

The culinary team at The Covington delivers inspired dining for the discerning palate.

Like most ECS campuses, The Covington is a Life Plan Community. Choosing a community like ours ensures a plan for your care needs — now and in the future – with a focus on proactive wellness and a continuum of care. Making your home here also provides peace of mind, knowing you do not have to move should your needs change.

Creativity

Our Creative Living philosophy drives life-long learning, growth, and social and cultural connections. Here, you will find the settings, services, and amenities that support fun, fresh opportunities for self-expression and discovery. Choose from fitness for all levels, theater and singing groups, and art and dance classes – all available on campus. If you need more inspiration, our communities are conveniently located near many of Southern California’s celebrated cultural destinations.

Confidence

Confidence is everything. As a nonprofit organization, ECS is continually reinvesting to improve infrastructure, services, and programs. No matter which Life Plan community you choose, you will experience relaxed, maintenance-free, sophisticated retirement living. With one of the highest credit ratings in the industry, ECS offers the security, services, and peace-of-mind that allows you to enjoy all life has to offer.

Connection

The strength of a community is the strength of its people. Relax over morning coffee with friends, take a class, attend a lecture, and delight in live entertainment. Here, your social life is as vibrant as you are. Or contribute by serving on a resident club or leadership committee. Our “Resident Centered, Staff Supported” approach means you enjoy the full spectrum of quality-of-life benefits that comes from calling a Life Plan Community home. It is an environment that allows you to flourish and be your very best.

About Us

The Covington offers exceptional continuing care, retirement community living in a secure, gated neighborhood in Aliso Viejo, Southern California. Our relaxed, maintenance-free, resort-style accommodations, and active campus environment offer the perfect place to continue your journey, on your terms.

We would love to hear from you. Please visit thecovington.org or phone (949) 209-3829 to learn more.

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