By Ken Gillespie

Prior to relocating to Del Webb, Susan Schjelderup enjoyed a career with General Dynamics Information Technology, supporting the United States Senate. Her primary work tools were spreadsheets, process flowcharts, auditing to technical standards, and measurements for process re-engineering, perfect for her analytical brain. She continues to use these tools to address a variety of issues in her retirement life.

Husband Ed shares this analytical bent, having spent his career with the Central Intelligence Agency. Lest you think both are ivory tower theoreticians, you will find they are a fun loving couple who share interest in truly neat things such as disco dancing (initially what attracted Susan to Ed), organizing teams for trivia competitions, and snorkeling extensively through Caribbean waters.

Q: How did you decide to come to Nocatee?

A: Fourteen hour days, which included two and a half hours commuting from Northern Virginia into D.C. for too many years took its toll. It was time for a life change. We each had a list of “musts” for relocating. Ed wanted a climate where he could wear short sleeve shirts year round. We both wanted a place with conveniences and activities. So I developed a spreadsheet with all our criteria and started researching. On climate for example, I looked at more than 100 years of hurricane data along the southeast coast. Northeast Florida seemed to be a bit of geography where storms mostly skipped. Further analysis of all our criteria found us zeroing in on the Jacksonville area. Following a few visits to the area, we found Nocatee.

Q: Trivia…that’s interesting!

A: We’ve formed solid friendships on our trivia team, playing weekly (and more often) over the past five years. Looking to boost our competitive standings, I wondered which trivia topics came up most often. So I created a spreadsheet listing more than 60 categories and researched those most frequently asked. The top five: movies, music, science, sports, and current events. Each team member now has deeper focus in these categories, which we use for greater collective success. Now that’s process improvement!

Q: Say more about your effort to create a community Emergency Response Team.

A: On settling in at Del Webb, it occurred to me that there was little infrastructure in place to respond to residents’ medical and injury-related emergencies. St. Johns County’s Fire/EMT Nocatee facility wasn’t yet built so seniors were facing potentially long delays in receiving emergency care. I was instrumental in a massive effort to recruit and train residents in first aid, CPR, and the use of automated electronic defibrillators (AEDs). Resident volunteers were then on call on a rotating basis 24/7 to instantly respond to calls for help within the community while awaiting 911 paramedics; however, when the new Fire/EMT station was built nearby, volunteer enthusiasm weakened greatly so we changed our mission from responding to training. The group ultimately disbanded. Looking back, I feel really good about having seeded more than 200 first aid-trained residents across our development. And I’ve learned a lot about managing volunteers that will shape any future effort I may undertake.

Q: What about the future?

A: While I’m still on call with General Dynamics Information Technology for proposal writing, I’ve discovered a cornucopia of interesting things to keep me engaged. I’ve taught English as a second language for World Relief, a humanitarian organization. I co-founded a discussion forum within Del Webb called the Roundtable. I’m a member of several groups: Book Club, Avian Adventure (birders), and Travel Club. Ed and I continue to refine our dancing with more lessons. And we travel, visiting some 25 Caribbean islands to date.

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Photo courtesy Susan Schjelderup

Susan Schjelderup


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