Adventure at The Oaks: Fearless Jean Eppler Finds Excitement at New Home

November 05, 2020

Jean Eppler

By Terrie M. Roberts

The aroma of pecan-crusted catfish, baked sweet potatoes and tomato pie gently waft over residents finding their seat in the Community Centre dining room.

The table affectionately known as “the Natchitoches ladies and Martha” fills slowly as Jean Eppler, Doris Norman, Dot LaCaze, Cleola Chism and Martha Peal pull out their chairs, smiling and greeting other Garden Apartment residents nearby.

“Four of us lived in Natchitoches so that is how we got the name,” Jean says. “We didn’t know each other prior to moving to The Oaks but shared some of the same friends.”

Now they share a life in this vibrant community of senior adults, and, notes Jean, life couldn’t be better.

 “I can’t think of one thing to complain about,” she says about The Oaks of Louisiana.

The 77-year-old moved to the senior living community in July 2017 from Fort Smith, Ark., moving close to son Todd and his family after living a year on her own following her husband’s passing.

“I am very happy here,” she says. “I love my apartment. I love the beauty of the campus. I love the people here. Everybody is so nice and congenial.”

Jean’s happiness as a resident of The Oaks’ Garden Apartments is evident. She wears it on her face for all to see. There is always a twinkle in her eyes, broad smile on her face and her demeanor is one that draws people close, to share in whatever funny story she is telling or mischief she is causing.

“I love life,” says the woman who completed a tandem jump from an airplane at age 70 and has ziplining over a gator pond on her bucket list. “I love to laugh, and I make friends easily.”

One of her closest friends is Cleola Chism, who moved to The Oaks shortly before Jean.

“She is one of the most caring people I know. It makes you feel good to be around her,” Cleola says.

“She certainly has been a friend to me,” she says, explaining that a recent hip replacement has slowed her down but “doesn’t seem to bother Jean that I move slower than she does.”

“I have macular degeneration and Jean will come over and make sure I have the right color threads in order for my embroidery,” Cleola says. “She just has the biggest heart for everybody.”