World Traveler Settles in San Francisco Senior Housing

After decades of traveling the globe, this resident is happy to call AlmaVia home.

Roberta Levy has been a world traveler since she was born. The daughter of a Marine, Roberta spent most of her childhood moving across the globe. Though she is now happily settled at AlmaVia of San Francisco, Roberta hasn’t lost any of her wanderlust. “I have traveled extensively worldwide and I would love to do more of that,” she says.

In 1945, Roberta’s family moved to North Carolina from Melbourne, Australia, when she was a little more than a year old. After a short time there, her father was promoted and the family relocated to Guam where they lived in a wood-framed hut. Roberta was a young child at the time, but has fond memories of playing on the beach, shopping at the nearby Air Force base, and watching tropical fish swim through tide pools. “It was an eye-opening experience,” she says.

After two years in Guam, her father was promoted to master sergeant and transferred to the Marine headquarters in Washington, D.C. Roberta started school there until the family moved once more, three years later, to the Bay Area. Her father worked for three more years in the Marines until he retired in 1956 and Roberta’s family finally settled permanently in San Francisco.

Roberta began pursuing a degree at San Francisco College for Women. She wasn’t enthusiastic about the school’s emphasis on finding a career in teaching, but she found she was passionate about studying history. “I wasn’t particularly interested in teaching, but I was interested in the way things work together, why things happen, and what happens next,” Roberta says.

She taught briefly, but soon set her sights on business. She returned to school for accounting and worked as an accountant for more than two decades. “I found a background in history forced me to think a certain way, which dovetailed with accounting and business,” she says. While working, Roberta pursued a master’s degree in business administration. She fulfilled this dream in 1985 by “taking a class or two here and there and just pulling it together over a number of years.”

Just one year after obtaining an MBA, Roberta decided to put her career on hold when her father became ill. She helped her mother care for him full-time until he passed away in 1987. She also cared for her mother, whose health began to deteriorate after her husband’s death. After her mother passed away in 1999, Roberta decided to retire from accounting and return to traveling the world as she had done with her parents when she was young.

Traveling allowed Roberta to rekindle her love for history. Her favorite countries to explore were in regions that were formerly part of the ancient Roman Empire, including Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa and the islands of the Mediterranean. “It’s absolutely fascinating. Ancient Roman rule, the influence of Rome and the language, the way that people think. It’s just a fascinating thing to do,” says Roberta.

In 2014, a fall in her apartment inspired Roberta to relocate to AlmaVia of San Francisco. The move has given her time to work on an ambitious quilting project. For years, she has been donating tiny hand-stitched quilts to neo-natal units at local hospitals. She finished her first thousand quilts in 2007, and hopes to finish her second thousand this summer.

When she isn’t quilting, Roberta spends her time reading, socializing with other residents, and participating in outings and shopping trips. After nine months at the community, Roberta knows AlmaVia of San Francisco is a place where she can finally settle down. “AlmaVia has a friendly, happy atmosphere that allows enough space and time and resources for individuality,” she says. “I hope to spend the balance of my life here.”

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