WHO’S NEW Robert and Eiko Whitelaw “Speedy Decisions”

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Deciding on a retirement location and that perfect retirement home is a big decision. Plantation residents have shared stories about visiting as many as a dozen communities before making a choice. Others have recalled making multiple trips to a single location before coming to a conclusion. Still others recall having friends and family tag along to help with the assessment of a retirement venue, while others chose to vacation for a week or two in a community they thought might be a good fit.

Meet Robert and Eiko Whitelaw. Robert and Eiko arrived at the Plantation on a cold, rainy day. They met just one person, Gail Brady, their real estate agent. They were here only two hours. They made the decision to move here and buy their beautiful home on the Yeopim Creek in fifteen minutes.

“The house and its location sold us,” remembered Robert. “It was tranquil, there was a place for a boat, and the home was located at the end of a cul de sac. We could have easily been disappointed, but the chemistry was right. This is a great place to live.”

Robert and Eiko bought their waterfront home in 2013 and used it as a vacation home until last Labor Day when they moved here full time. Robert, however, is still actively working, traveling to Asia until recently about thirteen times a year to check on his company, which manufactures pharmaceutical supplies. Most of this work today is domestic, but he is anxiously looking forward to being fully retired. He commented jokingly, “This is a terrible place to live if you have to work!” He and Eiko have been surprised by the “fascinating kind of emotional bonds” that have easily grown and connected them to our community. In their eight months here full time, they feel sure they have met more people than in the rest of their moves combined. And there have been quite a few moves.

While Robert was working in Osaka, Japan, for Minolta Cameras, he met Eiko, whose brothers still reside in Japan. Eiko had attended a British-run girls’ high school and college where she was required to speak English in all her classes. So when Robert and Eiko met in 1980, Eiko had no trouble conversing with Robert in English, and Robert was gaining his fluency in Japanese, as well. They were married and lived in Japan for about seven years before returning to the United States with their daughter Mariko.

The Whitelaws lived in several places in the U.S., including New Jersey, South Carolina, and Texas. But they were back in Japan when the big earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March of 2011. Eiko recalls being at home on the twenty-eighth floor of their apartment building when everything began to sway, sending the dining room table sliding from one wall to the other. She somehow made it down the stairs to the street when her brother called on her cell phone to urge her to quickly climb the stairs back up to the apartment because a tsunami was coming. Robert recalls leaving his office on his hands and knees, feeling the asphalt rippling beneath him as he crawled to safety outside the factory walls. They were 150 miles from the epicenter of that earthquake. Both survived the event unscathed, but their apartment walls had long arching scratch marks where their artwork had swung four feet in either direction during the quake.

Now safely moved into their new home, Robert is looking forward to having time to do oil painting, which he became interested in while living in Japan. He admits to being largely self-taught, and looks forward to having time to further explore his craft. He also plans to find time to read, relax, play golf, and get involved in the activities of the OYC, racing with the sailboats, and joining the cruisers on their escapades.

Eiko has gotten involved with exercise classes at the Community Center, plays Bunco with the Bunco Babes, and looks forward to starting golf lessons very soon. A new grandmother, Eiko is eagerly planning a trip to Boston to help out with the care of their first grandchild. She is a big-time baseball fan, faithfully cheering for Robert’s hometown team, the Chicago Cubs. But she confesses to supporting the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, too.

Welcome, Eiko and Robert! We’re glad your speedy retirement decision brought you here to us!