Why Hildy Said 'Yes' to Oakwood
Hildy McGown was a little out of breath the day of this interview after her 30-minute cardio workout led by Oakwood Village University Woods fitness staff.
“Those classes are great,” she says. “That’s one of the things I love about Oakwood — they invest in the well-being of residents.”
Hildy always knew she’d move to the University Woods campus when she was ready to leave her home. Both her mother and father-in-law had been residents.
“My mother lived here for 13 happy years,” says Hildy. “When she was in her 90’s she still played piano for sing-alongs. We used to kid her that she played for ‘the old people’ because she was one of the oldest here!"
Born in South Dakota, Hildy was no stranger to Madison. Her father, a Lutheran minister, was a Wisconsin native who often brought his young family back to visit the area and enjoy summertime activities like swimming in Lake Mendota.
“With all the activities you can participate in, it’s a haven here. There are so many nice people with interesting lives.”
Hildy followed in her mother’s footsteps, becoming an elementary teacher. Her first job after graduating from Luther College was in Madison. Here she met her husband Wayne and together they raised a daughter and two sons in the home they built just two blocks from Oakwood. When their youngest child entered school, Hildy began working with the Benedictine Sisters at Saint Benedict Center, now known as Holy Wisdom Monastery. She served as director of the conference center until her retirement in 1995. Wayne had a distinguished career in Wisconsin state government and UW administration, retiring in 2000 as the first director of the University Research Park, Oakwood’s neighbor to the east. “Even though I lost my husband 12 years ago and had my name on the list at Oakwood, I was content to stay in my home. But in 2019, my life changed in a fortuitous way. I became aware of a woman and her son (members of my church) who were homeless.
Before I knew it, I asked them to come live at my house. They were my guests for six months! When they moved out their life was moving along a good path, but suddenly my house felt too lonely.” Then COVID struck, compounding Hildy’s “aloneness.”
At about that time, Hildy got a call from Oakwood, and was thrilled to say “yes” to her one-bedroom apartment with a screened porch. “Thanks to my wonderful kids the house sale and moving went well.” She was impressed with how beautifully the staff refurbished her cozy home and she found her new neighbors to be helpful and friendly from day one. She is relieved to have the upkeep of a big house behind her and is amazed over and over again at all the amenities that come with living at 6205 Mineral Point Road. “I can’t imagine what it will be like when all the in-person activities can resume post-COVID. I am grateful to live in a place where the staff bends over backward to keep residents safe and happy.”