Ron and Corliss Vuksta decided to retire at 55, and chose Copeland Oaks right here in Northeast Ohio instead of a retirement community down south

Copeland Yard
Ron and Corliss Vuksta outside their Copeland Oaks villa. The beautifully manicured landscaping is maintained by the retirement community’s dedicated staff. When the couple wants to travel, they “just shut the front door and leave.”

By Mimi Vanderhaven

If you’re thinking about retiring, Ron and Corliss Vuksta have some advice for you: Just do it.

“We chose to retire at 55, and it’s the best thing we ever did,” Corliss says. “We knew too many people who waited until well into their 60s to retire then health issues prevented them from enjoying their golden years.”

“I wanted to retire at 55 even if it meant being able to afford only one meal a day,” adds Ron. “That’s how important it was to me.”

Ron, 76, and Corliss, 77, have now been retired for more than 20 years, the past 11 of which they’ve spent enjoying life at Copeland Oaks, a retirement community located in the small, tranquil town of Sebring, Ohio, just west of Alliance.

“We love it here,” Ron says. “We live in one of the villas on a beautiful tree-lined street. The homes are all different, so it doesn’t look like some cookie-cutter development, yet there is a strong sense of community.”

Free to Travel and Volunteer
“It’s completely maintenance-free,” Corliss adds. “If we want to travel, we just shut the front door—and leave.”

“The Copeland Oaks staff includes a wonderful maintenance team,” Ron says. “Landscapers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC techs. They are all very handy. We don’t have to do a thing.”

For several years into their retirement, Ron and Corliss used their newfound freedom to serve as traveling innkeepers. “It was a lot of fun,” Ron explains. “If you own a B&B and want to go on vacation yourself, we’d arrive and become you. We’d take care of the inn and serve your guests while you were away.”

Copeland Oaks is a debt-free, non-profit organization, so Ron and Corliss spent a lot of their early years there volunteering. “I enjoyed working at the onsite thrift chop,” Corliss says. “As new residents arrive or current residents go from a villa to an apartment, there is often unwanted furniture or clothing. We would sell those items in the thrift shop. It’s a smart way to save money and it helps create a sense of community.”

Staying Active and Heathy
The couple is also committed to their personal health. “Copeland Oaks has lots of wellness opportunities,” Ron says, “including an indoor pool and an aquatics program, a wellness center, group fitness classes, even a pickleball court. Lots of residents enjoy those things, but Corliss and I tend to enjoy hiking. This is a 250-acre campus and more than half of that is wooded areas with trails for walking and hiking. We can explore the woods with a map, and the staff sometimes brings in a naturalist to walk with us and point out things we might not have noticed on our own.”

Ron and Corliss enjoying coffee inside their Copeland Oaks villa.

Why Not Florida?
I asked Ron and Corliss why they chose to stay in Ohio instead of retiring down south.

“We thought about it,” Ron confesses. “After we retired, we took a vacation to Florida and stayed in a gated community. We really liked the atmosphere of being in a community, but we didn’t want to buy anything. We didn’t want to own anything. And every place we visited wanted $100,000 or more upfront. There was no way we’d do that. Of course, there is no entrance fee at Copeland Oaks, so that was really appealing, and we loved the villa concept. We moved in with no upfront fee, we rent, and the staff takes care of our property. They check the villa, mow the grass, plow the snow. It’s perfect for us. We can go to Florida or anywhere anytime we want.”

The couple enjoys walking and hiking, and Copeland Oaks’ 250-acre campus features plenty of trails, plus a lake for fishing.

“Something for Everyone”
I asked them to tell me more about the sense of community.

“There is something for everyone,” Corliss explains. “Whether you’re a quiet person or want to be out there moving and shaking. It’s up to you. You can have plenty of friends and be active, or you can enjoy your solitude. When you walk the streets, it’s just like a well-kept neighborhood and you can talk with your neighbors. Everyone is friendly.”

“There is a main dining room open to residents, or you can eat on the terrace, or have a sandwich at the bistro,” Ron adds.

“Or you can pick up a boxed meal and microwave it at home,” Corliss continues. “In the terrace, you can get milk, juices, a loaf of bread. It’s a little mini-mart. And we both get our hair cut here. You never have to leave the campus.”

“As much as we enjoy it here, we didn’t just do this just for ourselves,” Ron reveals. “We did it for our family. They don’t have to worry about Mom and Dad. If we get sick or something happens, we are not alone.”

Ron’s right. Copeland Oaks features independent villas and apartments, assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care. And because of the Life Care Fund of Copeland Oaks, supported by the Oaks Foundation, Ron and Corliss will never have to leave, even if they outlive their financial resources. “In its 60-year history, Copeland Oaks has never asked someone to move because they could no longer afford the cost of their care,” Ron says. “That’s peace of mind.”

Copeland Oaks is located at 800 S. 15th Street in Sebring, Ohio. Tours are by appointment with evenings and weekends available. To schedule your personal tour, call 330-938-6126. The web address is

Categories: Smart Living