By Judy Salamacha
What drives people to move to the Central Coast? Is it the slower, but active lifestyle? Is it the Mediterranean climate? Maybe it’s the ease of making friends in a smaller community where one can make an impact by just getting involved? Or is it living near the beach that means living in paradise for many? So what would make one trade it away? Rick and Claire Grantham say they will miss Morro Bay, but they have decided to exchange one paradise for another — Paulsbo, Wash. “We found a little piece of Heaven,” said Rick as he pulled out pictures of their new, dream home. He was particularly impressed with the mini-theater room perfect for watching movies with their grandkids. Indeed, being closer to their son, Greg, and daughter, Jennie, was the motivation for the move in January. While their current view is the Pacific Ocean, he concluded, “Our [new] view will be the Hood Canal.” He pointed to a picture he caught of submarines sailing by with a Navy escort.
Recovering from a second back surgery, Claire explained since she retired in 2015 they’ve had wonderful times traveling in their motorhome to various places in the U.S., but this past year was tough. They lost close family members and had personal health issues. “During one of our visits with Greg, he pulled me aside and said, ‘Mom, I’ll always take care of you.’ That’s when we got serious and realized we wanted to live closer to children and grandchildren.” They have another son in Oceanside, but realized they can enjoy motorhome visits south to Morro Bay, Oceanside and, of course, the occasional L.A. Rams game. In 1992, the Granthams were newlyweds when Rick accepted a senior medical tech position at the California Men’s Colony., so they moved from Southern California to San Luis Obispo. Claire was hired as nursing director for a new rehabilitation unit at Sierra Vista Hospital where she ultimately would lead the hospital’s “Infectious Prevention Program” for 17 years. Rick, who retired from CMC in 1995, would enjoy volunteering and community service, including one term as a City Councilman.
When they settled in Morro Bay, they didn’t know a soul, but by getting involved each have made lifelong friends. And since they’ve done it once before, getting involved in Paulsbo’s community life is part of the plan. They know their kids are excited that they are moving closer, but also know they will be busy with their own lives. Claire says the friends she’ll miss are like a patchwork quilt coming from a variety of activities they have been involved in. She served on the SLO County Community Health Commission and Emergency Medical Corps, but it was a quilting class taught by Becky Rogers at The Cotton Ball that linked her with many of the friends she still enjoys today. “I will miss my friends,” she said, “warm weather, and the only home we’ve shared as a couple. But we’ll still have our water view and a mountain view of Mount Olympus.”
Greg was a sophomore at Morro Bay High School when they first moved to town. He played several sports so they volunteered to work shifts at the snack bar, where they met a different set of friends. Although they actively participated together forming the Morro Bay Police Volunteers, Rick credits Claire for most of the organizing especially when former Police Chief Joe Loven retired and dubbed the Granthams as “the new leaders for the Annual Thanksgiving Community Dinner.”
They’ve built a crew that cooks and serves the dinner — some joining them annually for the 14 years they chaired the event — with annual support from Carla Wixom. They would open their home for events like Caroling Cops and several Morro Bay Rotary functions. Rick was president of Morro Bay Rotary from 2002-03, but has remained active and intends to join a club in Washington. They also shared interests in San Luis Obispo County Veterans Outreach and Combat Services, as Rick is a Vietnam Veteran and she from her healthcare interests. Claire loved her job at Sierra Vista. It allowed her to get out into the community giving flu shots and providing information about preventable diseases. But she also became a sought-after friend, a medical advocate, for many, as issues would trigger questions and hospital visits. Rick stated his “biggest honor” was serving on the Morro Bay City Council. “I would check in every day with every department and developed great relationships,” he said. He was proud the Harbor Walk and the Morro Bay Boulevard Roundabout were completed during his tenure. And not only because Washington is where his kids grew up, but Rick also recalls his first exposure to Washington was in Kingston, which is near Paulsbo. He was stationed there as a military medic. “It was a small town with only about 100 in our unit. In a way, it feels like we are moving back home.” Thanks, Rick and Claire, for your military, law enforcement, government, community and career nursing services. Morro Bay will miss you, too.
Freelance writer, columnist and author of “Colonel Baker’s Field: An American Pioneer Story,” Judy Salamacha’s is a regular contributor to Simply Clear Marketing & Media. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 801-1422 with story ideas.