Imagine coming to North Fort Meyers in the spring of 1985 and stumbling upon a community with a handful of houses on roads that weren’t even paved—and buying one of those houses! That’s how Tara Woods resident Ann Pasquale came to spend decades in the community.
Ann and her husband were staying across from the main entrance and didn’t know Tara Woods existed. There wasn’t much to see from the road at that time. They toured many communities in search of a vacation home but, one by one, they crossed each community off the list. After they had exhausted their options, a friend mentioned that Tara Woods was right across the road, and they should look there before returning to New York.
The minute they saw the community, they looked at each other, and both said in unison, “This is the place.” They bought the first home on the northern side of the community and closed in the fall of 1985. By the time they had moved in a few months later, “The roads were paved, there was a clubhouse and a pool, but not much more—maybe seven or eight homes,” says Ann.
The following year, they returned on one of their semi-annual vacations for the first-year celebration and Grand Opening. As part of the festivities, Tara Woods gave away a free home! Residents as well as outsiders qualified to win the free home. The residents were all hopeful they would be the lucky winner, but a couple who had just come up from Cape Coral for the day walked in to see Tara Woods and won the home.
The Pasquales never intended to live here full time. Once they were retired, however, they left New York and made Tara Woods their home. Ann recalls, “Management used to hold a Saturday morning coffee with doughnuts, and they brought in entertainment features for the residents. One year, Hee Haw came down for a performance.”
“Over the years, more clubs and activities were added. First came the homeowners association, followed by the ‘area clubs’ such as the New York/New Jersey Club, the Midwest Club, etc. I was involved in the New York/New Jersey Club, the Travel Club and the Quilting Club, where we made quilts for various organizations and charities. I don’t travel anymore, but my husband and I went on some trips with the Travel Club and really enjoyed them,” says Ann.
“When Tara Woods took off, it really took off,” Ann says. “Today, the new homes in the back are selling for six figures, and we’re adding more homes. This is the place to be for me. We’ve won many awards, and they were well deserved. It really is a wonderful community. A lot of other people feel the same way.”
When Ann lost her husband, her neighbors stepped in immediately and took her under their wings. “When I fell, they couldn’t do enough for me. They brought in meals and checked on me. Linda Jokich (as a neighbor, not as part of her job) got in touch with my family even though I have a Life Alert button. She got on the phone, and she called them,” recalls Ann.
“The thing that has kept me here all these years is the fact that I feel very comfortable and, of course, my neighbors. I even have a neighbor who brings my paper every morning and takes my recycling garbage out for me,” says Ann. “There are quite a few widows, so when I lost my husband in 2002, two women took over for me and invited me out to lunch and different activities. Today, I have four other widow neighbors (two go north for the summer) that I go out to dinner with regularly.”
Ann says, “You can’t beat the office staff. They’re very helpful. If you’re a widow alone, then you know things often need repair. The office doesn’t like to make recommendations, but when I need help, they always try to point me in the right direction.”
“And, of course, there’s Bingo,” Ann added.