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Inspiring Seniors: Touchdown!

Frank Dempsey is a character. “You like football?” he begins. And before he gets an answer, the Alabama-born former pro ball player launches into stories of the old days. He tells about the night he and some college football buddies scaled a high fence to skinny-dip in a pool, how he used to pile 10 guys into his old Jeep, and the time his cronies named him runner-up in a “King Ugly” competition.

“So I was pretty lucky to get Colleen — she was a beauty queen,” he says of his wife of 57 years. Although “Friendly Frank” started his career with the Chicago Bears, the six-foot-four 250-pound linebacker moved to Canada in the 1950s to play with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Ottawa Rough Riders. When he retired from football, Frank began importing hunting rifles and shotguns, growing his company to the largest of its kind in Canada.

Frank and Colleen, both 83, have been living in The Kensington in Oakville, Ontario, for four years. Frank loves its proximity to the town centre and the lake. “It’s location, location, location,” he says. “One block and you’re downtown.” Frank, who’s had both knee joints replaced, will often ride his electric scooter over to the neighbourhood coffee shop or tour the downtown. He’s pleased that The Kensington has made life much easier for Colleen, who has Parkinson’s disease. “I wanted to have a place where she could be taken care of if the disease progresses,” he says. “So far, she just has a little bit of a shake. But she’s so pretty, it doesn’t matter!”

Their large suite with two bathrooms and a fireplace looks out over a stunning landscaped terrace. Colleen says, “This place has a mood, an established air about it, and it’s so well-designed and comfortable.” A former professional singer (“She was on The Ed Sullivan Show twice!” Frank points out), Colleen’s main interest is taking in every musical and theatrical performance that comes to The Kensington.

While Frank says he’s not a joiner, “I talk to everybody. You can’t be four years in the Navy Air Corps and have no stories. Did I tell you ours was the only carrier that ever captured a German sub and brought it back? It was the U-505. . . ”

As he launches into the details, Colleen remarks, “See why I don’t need any hobbies? Frank’s a hobby and a half.”

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