Gary Gullickson has lived, and continues to live, a very full life. He is a doer, someone who is constantly busy it seems, and whose life is dotted with incredible awards. Aside from being on numerous boards and having an extremely active role in Saskatchewan’s music and culture scene, many prestigious awards have been bestowed upon this warm, articulate man.
Awards and his career in music
Gullickson was named Saskatoon’s Citizen of the Year in 1980, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Saskatchewan Music Educator’s Association in 1995, and a year ago he got a call from the governor general’s office to inform him that he had been appointed to the Order of Canada. “That was a shock and surprise and I realized that my music colleagues and some students had nominated me. It was a real thrill to receive that award,” he said humbly.
The Saskatoon native is a retired music teacher who talks fondly about his impressive 44-year career. “I was a high-school band teacher for 20 years, I was a school principal and school administrator, I was a university prof for the music department at the University of Saskatchewan for ten years. I directed choirs and was head of the music department for five years. I taught from little kids, all the way up to graduate students. I've had amazing opportunities to connect with thousands of people through music."
Involvement in his community
Gullickson grew up in small-town Saskatchewan and benefitted from playing sports in high school and taking piano lessons. Apart from being a professional musician and a music teacher, he was heavily involved in cultural organizations. To this day he's still an integral part of the Saskatoon community. He's been a part of Rotary, Kinsmen and he served on four different civic boards and a couple of provincial organizations all in the area of culture and music.
Retirement and the attraction of Aspira
Gary retired in 2000. He and his wife Audrey, who are both 86, decided against downsizing to an apartment where they would still have to make their own meals. Instead they made the switch to Aspira so they would be served meals and have the added security of living at the residence rather than their townhouse which Gary described as “more isolated in some ways”.
“We weren’t driving as much anymore and we thought now is the time to go into a residence where we could have en-suite laundry, underground parking, dining service, security, and activities that were attractive to us as seniors,” said Gullickson.
Gary said he found the environment at Aspira Hunter Village very welcoming when he took the tour with Audrey. They had both heard about Hunter Village from friends and he added that “the Village” - as it’s known around town - “had a very good reputation” so that’s why they chose it above the competition.
Daily routine and life outside of Hunter Village
On a usual day at Aspira Gary will be helping out with Resident Council matters at Hunter Village. “I thought I was through with attending meetings,” he joked. Being an enthusiastic musician he will play for the occasional church service while continuing his music activities at Aspira. “I’ve presented piano programs for the residents from time to time.”
When he and Audrey first moved in they reluctantly gave up their grand piano during their downsizing. Thankfully Hunter Village is equipped with an excellent grand piano of its own as well as a high quality keyboard. “I can go down and practice any time I want,” said Gullickson. “I have access to a piano so every day I’ll try and sneak a half hour in on it.”
When it comes to fitness and activities, true to himself, Gary is involved in those too. “There’s a great gym in the building where I use the stationary bike. I’m down there about three times a week and it’s never too busy.”
Gary is also happy that he and Audrey are able to maintain their life away from Aspira. “Both my wife and I drive and while we have some health issues we are certainly able to participate in any activity that is going on here and we are very active still in the outside community. We are also active members of the Saskatoon Probus Club, a social group for seniors."
From fellow residents to friends
In the two years that Gary and Audrey have been at Hunter Village good friends have been easy to come by. “We’ve made many, many friends. The wonderful thing, if you ever walk into this building, you will sense right away a very friendly atmosphere. Many of the 150 residents here have led rich lives and raised families and they are just very interesting people. I would rate the residents of this building as being exceptional, friendly, and welcoming."
The dining experience at Hunter Village
The idea of a simpler, easier life was the driving force behind Gary and Audrey's move to independent living at Hunter Village. After 60 years of planning and preparing meals for her family, Audrey was ready to enjoy the popular dining options at the retirement home. In addition to a full-size and well-equipped kitchen in every suite, Hunter Village has provided excellent dining service for its residents and guests.
The cost of living is always a high priority for seniors. When it comes to the cost of living at Hunter Village, Gary believes he and Audrey are getting good value for money. Given the amenities they receive and the lifestyle they enjoy, they feel like they made the right choice in selecting Hunter Village as their retirement home.
Furthermore, they strongly recommend that seniors should develop a list of priorities and then take the time to investigate the retirement living options the city has to offer before making such an important lifestyle change. For Gary and Audrey, the decision to choose Aspira Hunter Village was the right one for them.