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She helps set the tone for Bethany living
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Town Square manager Mary Remiersma stands next to the 33,000 gallon indoor swimming pool serves the residents of Bethany Home in water aerobics taught by retired teacher Carla Escola. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Mary Riemersma loves dealing with the seniors who rent their apartments and cottages at Bethany Home.

She is especially excited now about the new 33,000 gallon heated indoor swimming pool that is a shining star in the new two story Town Square Apartments located on Main Street.  Some 10 to 15 residents enjoy water aerobics with instructor Carla Escola twice each week on Mondays and Wednesday between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m.

The pool is only three to four feet deep – just perfect for the senior set.

Riemersma is looking forward to a greater use of the 48 foot long pool for water therapy that is expected to begin before the end of the year.  It will be open to Bethany residents as well as through the residents of the community through Medicare and private use charges.

It is also expected to be used by arthritis patients, to be offered as well to residents who have had recent hip surgeries.  

The pool was donated by the Brocchini family in honor of their late parents Albert and Rina Brocchini.

Riemersma moved to Ripon in 1993 from the Southern California city of San Dimas when her husband was transferred in his job.  A native of Holland she honed her skills in soccer and ice skating as a young girl – her dad was a soccer coach.

Ripon did not have a girls’ varsity soccer team when she and her husband moved here – she was quick to notice.  It was 1994 and she formed the team from a beginning of three players centering on her daughter Andrea, now a nurse at Doctors Medical Center.  Those three girls had experience for the other members of the team to follow.

“My dad taught me a lot and that’s why I felt it was important to start the girls’ program,” she said.  Her coaching lasted about six years when she went to work for Bethany in 2000.

She later coached a co-ed team for the City of Ripon, a girls’ 10-12 team and a boys’ 8-year-old team.   Riemersma said she still plays some soccer – gets out and kicks the ball around – when she is trying to relieve frustration.

Bethany administrator Bruce Nichol saw her as a positive addition to Bethany and asked if she could help out at the facility in a part-time capacity.  Part-time worked into a full-time position for her and now she works 40 hours a week plus.

“I got attached to the seniors and I wanted to stay working with the elderly,” she said.

In Southern California she first worked in the corporate world at a municipality in water and waste water management in the unincorporated areas of Chino, Cucamonga and Alta Loma.

She and her family immigrated to the United States when she was 12 years old.  She enjoyed ice skating on the canals near Amsterdam.  She lived in a small community of about 3,000 people known as Amstelveen.

She remembers the fun times of using a chair to help her skate and keep her balance on those canals that ran between the houses.  One of two children, her younger sister Betty recently retired as an engineer from the valley Water district in the Southland.  They see a lot of each other, Riemersama said, because she enjoys visiting to see her niece and nephews.

The apple of her eye is her daughter’s 9-month-old granddaughter Kaylee.  As for her hobbies aside from being a new grandmother, she said she loves to read and to plant tulips in her garden and in her patio at home.

Of Town Square’s 49 apartments and 30 cottages there are only 18 that are vacant at the new facility.  There are five cottages and 13 apartments, she said.  The age requirement to live on the Bethany campus is 62.

Bethany is now working out a contract with the city of Ripon to use its small bus to transfer its residents from site to site.  It will allow those living in the Town Square Apartments and cottages to travel the few blocks to the dining room at the main building where they can have lunch.  It will also take residents to and from the Ripon Senior Center and to mostly local shopping trips to Save Mart and to the Mar Val Shopping centers.

Volunteer bus drivers are being sought for the new service.  “We have already used it for special activities, such a dining out,” she said.