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Berni Nonenmacher sits in the The Heritage at the Plains dining room Thursday.

The first resident of The Heritage at the Plains at Parish Homestead is moving.

During a reception Thursday, April 20, friends and staff members wished Berni Nonenmacher, 95, much happiness before she moves to a senior living center in Middletown to be closer to her daughters. “A few minutes is better than two hours,” Nonenmacher said.

Nonenmacher said she and her husband, Bob, were living in Edmeston and heard about the senior living community being built in Oneonta. She said her husband was having a hard time maintaining the house, so they decided to move to the community so someone else could plow the snow and shovel the snow off the roof.

She said they moved in their furniture six weeks before the community opened. “We moved to a motel until it opened,” she said.

The Heritage at the Plains at Parish Homestead Executive Director Trudy Claudy said the facility was about to open but the code department said no, so seven people lived in the Hampton Inn until it was ready to open. She said the Nonenmachers were the first to move in 13 years ago.

Fellow resident Anna Elwyn said they had gifts for Nonenmacher and several residents lined up with items. Nonenmacher received: a penny so she would never be broke; a rubber band to remind her to stay flexible, a paper clip to hold it all together; an angel to guide her; a light to remind her she is a guiding light to her family and friends; a Band Aid to heal her hurt feelings or someone else’s; an eraser to erase her mistakes; a Life Savers candy to remind her how many times she helped others; a marble in case anyone told her she lost hers; an umbrella to shield her; and and a rose so she was always filled with joy.

Elwyn said Nonenmacher was the community’s photographer and gave her nine loose leaf binders of photos over the years. “These are eight-by-ten in color,” she said.

Elwyn said Nonenmacher started several special programs, including a showcase of artworks created by residents, a talent show and a rummage sale. She was a writer and illustrator, helped people use computers and grew several plants, Elwyn said. Nonenmacher also served on the resident council and greeted new residents.

Elwyn said they loved her and “we know the people at the next home will love you as much as we do.”

Nonenmacher said she was an occupational therapist and worked in Buffalo before she and her husband moved to Edmeston so he could teach art at local one room schoolhouses.

Following the presentation, everyone was treated to a slice of cake.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.

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