Rabbi Richard Rocklin is quick to admit that when he first moved into The Carillon, he “was a little unhappy.” He explained, “Although I had visited people in places like this seven days a week, I never dreamed I’d live here.” However, after five years at The Carillon, he not only meets with new residents to help them feel settled, but he said, “I can say with a full and true heart, I love it here. The staff is outstanding, the people are outstanding, and it’s a real blessing to be here.”
For Rocklin, a combination of peaceful solitude and joyful social interaction epitomizes life at The Carillon at Boulder Creek, the luxury hotel-style senior living community adjacent to the University of Colorado Boulder and just off the Boulder Creek Path. “I love painting, reading and studying,” Rocklin said. “I like to come down and socialize, have breakfast with someone, but then I think it’s glorious to spend time in my apartment with my little dog.” His near-constant companion is Yofi, Rocklin’s Yorkshire terrier whose name means “lovely” in Hebrew. Rocklin picked up painting in retirement thanks to another Carillon resident who provides pointers. “I don’t frame anything without her approval,” he said, grinning. Rocklin gives his artwork to his children or hangs it in his apartment; he is now working on painting some of the more than 2,000 original sayings he’s developed over a lifetime of speaking and writing.
Retirement Carillon-style: ‘One of the happiest parts of my life’
“Throughout my life, I was blessed by wonderful human beings, and I loved working with them. I never felt there was a day I did not want to go to work, but I can say that retirement has been one of the happiest parts of my life,” Rocklin noted. He loves that he is surrounded by caring people at The Carillon and that his grown daughters and grandchildren are nearby. “I see my daughters once a week or more,” he said. “And it’s fun to call up a grandchild and say, ‘Can you take me to the grocery store and go out for lunch?’ We’ve always valued being together. I’ve been very lucky.”
He enjoys “simple visits” with family and fellow residents at The Carillon.
“For a time, I was known as ‘the running rabbi,’” he recalled. “I ran for 2,116 days once, at least three miles a day.” He added with a laugh, “But now I can’t run to the mailbox.” He walks four times daily with Yofi and sometimes Christian Shahmardian, sales advisor at The Carillon. “He’s one of my favorite people,” Shahmardian said, “and one of the best men I’ve ever met.”
Serving in the rabbinate meant that Rocklin did not own his first home until he retired and purchased a small place in Broomfield in his 70s. “I had been serving a senior congregation in Florida, and after 40 years in the rabbinate, one of my daughters called me and said, “Abba, it’s enough, come to Colorado and be with us.” He did, soon moving in with a daughter and then into his own space for a time. “I missed the congregation, but I knew I made the right decision,” he said. He continues to keep in touch with those remaining from his time of service.
Rocklin knew from a young age that he was destined for the rabbinate. After he suffered a serious automobile accident at age seven, “my mother went to the temple and prayed,” he said. By age 12, in a direct response to “my life being preserved,” Rocklin said, “I knew I would be a rabbi.” He grew up in Duluth, Minn., “where we were required to go to school even when it was 25 below zero,” he remembered. Rocklin graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in philosophy and speech and received a master’s from the University of North Carolina and a master’s in Hebrew literature and a doctorate of Hebrew literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
Kindness as ‘religion’
Since his children were young, Rocklin has observed, “Judaism is my way of life, but kindness is my religion.” That principal has permeated how he thinks about the world and the Carillon residents and staff in particular. “The people here are my brothers,” he said.
The Carillon intentionally strives to welcome all and to ensure that those who make their home at The Carillon feel treasured for who they are and how they uniquely enrich the community. From a former CU professor who holds regular piano concerts at The Carillon to former art teachers, museum curators and a variety of retired business and science professionals, each individual resident of The Carillon meaningfully contributes to the community. The Carillon staff keeps residents engaged as well, between frequent fitness activities and classes, art workshops, lectures, game nights and outings to cultural and sporting events.
One of Rocklin’s favorite Carillon activities are resident-led circle groups, in which a few residents gather for 12 weeks to discuss, say, a poem or intriguing idea. “I can’t wait for that to begin again,” said Rocklin, anticipating the fall season of circle groups.
To learn more about the welcoming community at The Carillon at Boulder Creek or to schedule a tour, email Shahmardian at [email protected] or call 720.565.6844.