Sitting comfortably in his living room chair, Vern Schultz smiles as he engages in conversation about his band, Vern and the Hi Hats, who have been performing together for more than 10 years. As he recounts the history of the group and where music has taken him throughout his lifetime, his love and joy for performing shines through.
Through his many years of performing, Vern has played for diverse groups of people including the young, the old and everything in between. For the past decade, though, Vern and the Hi Hats have focused on performing waltzes, polkas, country and ballads from the 1930s to the 1980s for their own generation now living in various senior communities.
Over the years, Vern has traveled throughout much of central Minnesota playing his music to different retirement homes. As a result of his travels, Vern was able to visit and tour many different senior communities throughout the state. None, however, compared to what he discovered at The Lutheran Home Association’s Kingsway Retirement Living in Belle Plaine, Minn.
“I told my wife about this place I visited and said, you know, there’s beautiful German architecture and it’s all very nice and different,” Vern said after his first performance at Kingsway. ”It’s not really big, it’s not like a townhouse, it has all the services we could want and I was comfortable here.”
Vern and Toodie moved to Kingsway during the fall of 2014. Though new to being a resident of the community, Vern has had an affiliation with Kingsway since it was established in 2008 when he and his group were first invited to perform there. The residents and staff very much enjoyed the band’s performance, and Vern has performed there regularly every few months since then. When the Schultz’s were looking for a place to move to from their home in Prior Lake, Minn., they knew Kingsway was at the top of their list.
“We wanted to be here and so that was our choice,” said Toodie. “We’ve gotten to meet people right off the bat here and feel very welcome.”
Vern and Toodie are grateful that the performances of Vern and the Hi Hats brought them to Belle Plaine and introduced them to their new home at Kingsway. They also enjoy the opportunity to continue performing at the other facilities within the Belle Plaine Campus.
Of all the qualities of The Belle Plaine Campus and Kingsway Retirement Living, though, Vern feels it is the unity and comfort of the community that most drew him and his wife to the small-town complex.
“It’s really a family here,” Vern said. “Everyone is very friendly. This is definitely the right place for us, and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the music.”