It can be a means of expression, lift us up when we are down, inspire us, and entertain us. For Marilyn Haskel, music is more than a passion, it always was, and continues to be, her life. Marilyn began playing piano at the age of 5 and instantly fell in love. She continued to practice throughout high school and began playing for her local Methodist church. When it came time for Marilyn to go off to college, there was no question what she wanted to study. She obtained her undergraduate degree in Music Education with performance area in organ from West Virginia Wesleyan College. However, at the time, women who earned degrees were heavily encouraged to teach in public schools. As was expected of her, Marilyn taught music for 6 years but couldn’t quiet her inner voice telling her she was meant to do something more.

Marilyn entertains in her cottage


Marilyn Haskel

Marilyn decided to follow her passion and seek employment as a full time church musician, but the road to getting there wasn’t easy. It wasn’t until the age of 50 that Marilyn achieved full time employment as a professional musician with the Episcopal Church in New York, bringing her full circle. After spending many years in the industry, Marilyn decided to retire at the age of 70. Though New York had been incredible to her, she decided to leave the city and move on from apartment living.

She had a specific list of what she was looking for in her new home—continuing care, since she would be living on her own, close proximity to a city with public transportation, and politically comfortable for her.

Collington seemed to fall in line with what Marilyn was looking for, and since it wasn’t far from where she grew up, she decided to schedule a visit. Little did she know that the minute she stepped foot on campus her search would be over. Everything about Collington was perfect for Marilyn, the alliance with Kendal made sense to her and what she wanted in her life and their mission of “creating a community for older adults and all they care about inspired by their vision for purposeful lives” resonated with her.

Since she had decided to leave apartment living in the past, Marilyn opted for a beautiful cottage on Collington’s campus. Choosing a cottage offered Marilyn neighborhood style living with all of the services and amenities of the community while sitting on a quiet street. In addition, Marilyn was able to make her new home her own by choosing paint colors, flooring and even which countertop she wanted. The design program at Collington allowed her to create a space that was perfect for her. “I found a spiritual, political and social home here,” Marilyn stated. She was able to connect with women who shared the same interests as her, both in the church and beyond. “Collington has been a really wonderful place for me, I’ve even had friends visit who decided to move in!” Marilyn exclaimed.

Though she may have retired, Marilyn hasn’t stopped making music at Collington. She currently holds the position of Director of the Collington Singers, is on the Auditorium Committee, Drama Committee where she is involved in acting and in creating the music for the performances, is the organist for the Episcopal service on campus, and occasionally plays piano in the cocktail bar.

Although she is a city girl at heart, Marilyn loves the small town feel Collington exudes. “You may not know everybody, but you recognize them,” Marilyn states, which is a comforting feeling. She loves that residents go out of their way to sit with others who may be eating alone, and that everyone takes the time to get to know each other. Marilyn appreciates her fellow residents more than anything, stating that they are what makes the experience so incredible, “the people you meet living here will be your friends for the rest of your life.”