Roger and Kathy Messigner live together inside Plough Towers, their walls covered with grandchildren’s art and math homework. Married since 2015, the two met at Plough, a place they deeply love.
“October will be 15 years. I moved in with my father as his caregiver. When he passed away, I was allowed to stay,” said Roger. “Both me and my father did volunteer work in the building. I’ve gotten involved that way.”
“He’s known as someone who took wonderful care of his father,” Kathy said. “He has that reputation. He’s a mensch.”
For the first of her seven years at Plough, she and Roger traded neighborly pleasantries in the halls. But at a funeral service for a mutual friend and Plough resident, their relationship evolved.
“The gravesite was far from the car. The grass and the ground is uneven, so Kathy asked if I could help her,” Roger said. “When she asked, I held her hand. We both felt the spark.”
They courted for a year, having meals together on and off campus, attending the symphony and theatre. At home, they bonded over Scrabble. One night, Roger prepared a special message on the Scrabble board.
Darling I love you so much
I want to spend the rest of my life with you
Has a nice ring to it doesn’t it
“I didn’t even know! Then he sat me in front of it,” Kathy said, beaming.
“Then I read it to her, and when we got to the word ring, I pulled the ring out.” Roger beamed back.
The couple has made a special life for themselves among their peers at Plough Towers, taking advantage of everything the facility offers and thriving in their time together.
“We have one meal a day, lunch on weekdays, provided through MIFA and the Jewish Federation,” Kathy said. “The food used to be very bad. But it has definitely improved, within the last six months. Before, we wouldn’t go down, just have our lunch up here. Now, we go often, and it’s $1.55, that’s all we pay. Isn’t that something?”
They giggled through a list of other perks that bring joy and convenience into their lives, interrupting each other and finishing each other’s sentences. The beauty parlor; the computer lab and the courses it offers; the small library; the Plough Towers van.
“The van is very nice,” Kathy said. “They take people to the grocery store, take them to activities, shopping, to the synagogue.”
“There’s people who use the bus regularly to go to synagogue for Sabbath and Jewish holidays,” Roger said.
“Another nice thing that is wonderful is on Fridays once a month, we have one of the rabbis from the city come and give a Shabbat service,” Kathy said. “The cantor from Anshei Sphard Beth El Emeth, he came last week. We have challah and grape juice or wine and it’s lovely.”
Their list continued to grow. A modern television livestreaming Temple Israel services into the Plough common space; lectures and classes led by clergy and special guests from Israel; subsidized housekeeping; seasonal celebrations and holiday gifts.
“The kindergarteners and kids from the Jewish Community Center provide us with cards for the holidays,” said Roger “For Purim they might make us groggers or little cards.”
“I’ve had more interaction with the Jewish community and with Judaism since living here than I ever had before. Far more than I ever had, anywhere. Anywhere,” she said.
Last year, JCP provided more than $30,000 to subsidize senior and disabled adult housing with activities and housekeeping at Plough Towers, with additional funding going toward the Scheidt-Hohenberg Kosher Hot Meals Program.