By: Mary Sheys
Last November, all the buzz around Middleton was about the corner lot on Ashley Circle. It was being cleared for construction, and we would soon have new neighbors. We all watched patiently as the ground was leveled, the beautiful teal-colored house was built, sod was laid, and by summer 2018 most of us had met our new neighbors, Trip and Melissa Cofield.
The Cofields are both native to the east coast. Melissa is originally from Philadelphia, and Trip was born and raised in Smithfield, VA. The couple met when they were both working at Liberty Mutual in Richmond, VA. Melissa recalls that at that time Trip was also working on his MBA at VCU, so those were some crazy busy-days! It was quite a surprise at work when they announced that they were getting married. Though they’d been together for over two years, only their closest friends knew that they were even dating—Melissa still remembers their boss’ jaw dropping when he heard the news.
So how did Trip and Melissa choose Albemarle Plantation? In 2017, they were living in Chesapeake, VA. Trip had been retired three years from Chubb Group of Insurance Companies and involved with local social programs and the YMCA (he was board Chair-man for the Greenbriar Y). Melissa was still working, teaching history and psychology in the International Baccalaureate program at Oscar Smith High School, the academic magnet program for the City of Chesapeake. As Melissa began winding her career down and considering retirement, they decided to put their house in Chesapeake on the market, so they’d have plenty of time to explore and decide where to retire. When their house sold in just over a week, they were forced to step the retirement planning into high gear.
They took it all in stride, rented a house in Sandbridge, VA, and began traveling up and down the east coast looking for the perfect place to settle down. During this period—their “Homeless Gypsy Phase”—they spent some of their time in Sandbridge and some time with their daughter Meredith in Portsmouth, VA. They also spent some time on the beaches of Cape May, NJ, where they kept themselves busy checking tourists’ beach tags. Years ago, Melissa’s great-great grandfather built a small cottage in North Cape May, and the cottage has been in the family as long as she can remember. She has been spending summers in Cape May her entire life and loves the beautiful historic beach town. Cape May, with its grand Victorian houses, eclectic shops and restaurants, and pristine beach promenade, is one of those places for Melissa that just feels like home when she drives into town.
With time to travel and explore, Trip and Melissa scoured the eastern coastline for the perfect retirement destination. They visited Savannah where Melissa’s mother lives. They looked at Bluffton and Summerville, SC, Wilmington and Washington, NC, Williamsburg, VA, and the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It was during one of their trips back up the coast that they stumbled upon Albemarle Plantation. They are glad they did. They love the beauty of AP, that it is on the water, and that the golf course is top-notch, yet so accessible. The most impressive thing about Albemarle Plantation for the Cofields is the people. Trip says that his friends and neighbors here are so genuinely nice, they will do anything for you. When Trip began laying sod in his yard, many of their neighbors came out to help.
Trip and Melissa are very active and busy here at the Plantation. Melissa, an avid knitter, is involved with one of AP’s knitting groups, Sit-n-Stitch. She also likes to do stand-up paddle boarding, so you may find Melissa paddling down the Yeopim River this summer. Trip likes to walk—he walks 2-3 miles per day—and he plans to join the Men’s golf league this season. Fortunately, Trip and Melissa are close enough to their daughter and son-in-law in Ports-mouth, that they are able to travel up and care for their darling one-year old granddaughter Estella during the week. Their daughter Meredith is an orthopedic therapist at Children’s Hospital in Portsmouth, and Melissa drives up twice a week to babysit Estella. Trip often babysits in Melissa’s place when she’s unable to drive up.
Both Trip and Melissa are members of the United Methodist Church, and Trip remains heavily involved as the newly-appointed Witness Ministries Coordinator. Through his church in Chesapeake, Trip volunteered regularly at their local food pantry and Chesapeake Area Shelter Team (CAST), providing transportation, food, and emergency shelter for area homeless. Trip has already begun volunteering with Perquimans County Open Door, providing donation pick-up.
We in Middleton are so happy to have our new neighbors, and all of us at Albemarle Plantation are very fortunate to welcome the Cofields to the community.