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The Buckingham, an SQLC retirement community, recently hosted a wine tasting and Oscar nominee predictions event with Texas’ favorite movie critic Gary Cogill, an Emmy Award-winning journalist and major motion picture producer; along with his wife Hayley Hamilton Cogill, certified sommelier and regular contributor to Texas Taste. Combining their passions for wine and movies, the dynamic couple shared fascinating facts about this year’s predicted Oscar nominees and must-see motion pictures for the upcoming holiday season, while guests savored exceptionally fine wines paired with each film discussed as a potential Oscar contender.

“The guests of The Buckingham had the opportunity to enjoy Hayley’s talent for picking the best vintage to complement Gary’s Oscar predictions,” said Julie Fenske, executive director of The Buckingham. “Together, this dynamic husband and wife team entertained the audience with a wine tasting accompanied by Gary’s extensive knowledge of Hollywood personalities as he shared facts and observations about this year’s upcoming films. Their passion for both of their specialties was infectious, and made the event delightful.”

Gary has an intimate understanding of the film world through his work as an Emmy Award-winning journalist who has reported from the Oscar’s red carpet on many occasions, as well as reviewing more than 10,000 films and conducting more than 20,000 interviews with industry leaders. Hayley possesses a deep appreciation for wine. A member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and the Society of Wine Educators, she works to help others like the residents and guests of The Buckingham better understand and enjoy fine wine.

The Buckingham subscribes to the Masterpiece Living® lifestyle, which encourages healthy living in all regards – physical, mental, social and spiritual. This includes the opportunity to help residents and invited guests remain engaged through compelling social events like this wine and film event. 

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Sandy Humphrey, 83, is learning how adding splashes of color in her weekly activity schedule is helping to slow the progression of her Parkinson’s disease. Humphrey, a resident of The Buckingham, an SQLC retirement community, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about three years ago, and says coloring helps control and steady the tremors in her fingers. Humphrey and about a dozen other residents spend an hour at a time coloring in the group activity while listening to soothing classical music, which helps them relax and focus on nothing else but the moment.


“You forget what’s going on in your day-to-day life,” said Humphrey. “Coloring takes away the stress by helping you live in the moment and concentrate on the task at hand for one hour. I colored a beautiful stained-glass window picture using pastel shades of pinks, greens and blues. I thought of nothing else but the intricate design of the window, and after I finished the picture I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment.”


When coloring, different areas of the cerebral hemispheres are activated, helping lower activity in the part of the brain involved in controlling emotion caused by stress. Focusing on the activity of coloring rather than on other stressors results in a more relaxed and creative state of mind. The Buckingham offers activities like the adult coloring class as part of the Masterpiece Living® philosophy that is incorporated throughout the community – a philosophy that encourages continual learning at every age and promotes a healthy lifestyle in all regards. The Buckingham staff offers multiple programs and outlets for residents to stay engaged and live life to the fullest as they enter the retirement phase of life. Humphrey is an amazing example of the Masterpiece Living® philosophy, as she encourages her friends and neighbors at The Buckingham to try new activities, like adult coloring. Humphrey also participates in bridge and mahjong, and serves as chairman on the community’s lifestyle committee, a group that helps initiate new, trendy activities, such as adult coloring.  


“Coloring is fun and it’s an activity a lot of people can participate in and enjoy,” said Humphrey. “I loved hearing my friends and neighbors comment on how relaxed and accomplished they felt after finishing a page from the coloring book.”


“It is a wonderful thing to see the residents creating works of art that are stimulating to the senses and beneficial to their health,” said Pam Ortiz, director of resident services and lifestyles at The Buckingham. “Art provides joy and peace that comes from creating something uniquely your own. By providing purpose-filled activities, we are giving the residents opportunities to use their imaginations to create something special, while feeling a sense of accomplishment and personal satisfaction.”

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Senior living community developer Senior Quality Lifestyles Corporation (SQLC), parent company of The Buckingham, has elected Dr. Jan van Sant as the newest member of the Board of Directors. Dr. van Sant, who is President of the Resident Council at The Buckingham–the SQLC community in Houston–is the first resident to hold a full voting membership at the SQLC board level.

Joe Anderson, Chairman of the Board of SQLC, made the announcement, adding that the appointment of Dr. van Sant will contribute to the ongoing transparency of both the governance and operations with residents of the SQLC communities.

“Our nonprofit charter is to provide quality housing, hospitality and health care to a protected class of people–older people,” Anderson said. “SQLC has entered into lifetime contracts with its residents who have a right to participate in the governance process that affects their daily lives and the financial performance of the communities in which they live. We are delighted to welcome Dr. van Sant to the board, and look forward to his input and contributions.”

Dr. van Sant is a 34-year oil industry veteran with particular experience in the areas of exploration and production research and technology. He began his career with Jersey Production Research Company, an Exxon Corporation predecessor in 1962. In 1964, he organized and lead Exxon’s technical services group in Bordeaux, France, which supported all Exxon exploration groups responsible for the North Sea, Europe and Africa. He transferred to Exxon Production Research Company in 1966, serving in positions of increasing managerial responsibility, including coordinating all technical training for explorationists, and becoming manager of the Exploration Research Division. He joined Pennzoil in 1980 and retired as Senior Vice President Technology & Systems in 1996. Dr. van Sant was responsible for geology, geophysics, reservoir engineering, drilling and technical computing in support of oil and gas operating units.

After retiring, Dr. van Sant was the Executive Director of the American Geological Institute Foundation, which raised more than $20 million for certain AGI-sponsored educational and other national programs. The AGI is a federation of 52 Earth Science societies in the United States, with a combined membership of more than 250,000 geoscientists. He is now Associate Director of the Foundation. Dr. van Sant also served as Assistant to the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston, and was a member of advisory committees at various times including the University of South Carolina, University of Utah, University of Kansas, and Rice University.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in geology from the University of Kansas. Additionally, he graduated from the Harvard University School of Business in Management of Industrial Research. He served in the U.S. Army as a 1st Lieutenant for Special assignments in Korea, Alaska, and elsewhere.

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The Buckingham retirement community hosted a wine tasting and Oscar's preview event with favorite Texas movie critic Gary Cogill and his wife Hayley Hamilton Cogill shortly after the release of the 2016 Academy Award nominations. The Cogills are a dynamic media couple that combined their backgrounds and expertise in film and wine for the engaging event.

Gary is an Emmy Award-winning film critic known for his entertaining reviews on Dallas’ WFAA-TV, KXAS-TV and the statewide Texas News Network. His wife, Hayley Hamilton Cogill, is a certified sommelier and a weekly contributor to The Broadcast and Taste Texas. Together, the couple complemented each other as he shared compelling stories from this year’s Oscar nominees, while she presented captivating wines.

“How often do you get to have movie and wine questions answered by someone that can actually answer them?” said Julie Fenske, executive director of The Buckingham. “Gary, who is also a major motion picture producer, helped set the scene for this year’s Oscar race for those in attendance by providing information about both the films and the individuals nominated. Hayley helped set the tone for the event by treating us to some delicious wines. Their passion for both was infectious.”

Gary has an intimate understanding of the Oscar’s through his work, which has afforded him the opportunity to report from the Oscar’s red carpet on many occasions. Hayley possesses a deep appreciation for wine. A member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and the Society of Wine Educators, she works to help others like the residents and guests of The Buckingham better understand and enjoy fine wine.

The Buckingham subscribes to the Masterpiece Living Program™ philosophy, which encourages a healthy lifestyle in all regards–physical, mental, social and spiritual. Time spent with friends and family through compelling discussion and cultural exploration like the discussion with the Cogills helps enhance the mental, social and spiritual needs we all have for healthy living.

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One of Santa’s helpers, Inge-Lotte Liesner, 74, has been baking up a storm at The Buckingham retirement community. The six-year resident of the community, well-known for the huge gingerbread house she makes for the annual resident and employee family celebration, bakes 50 to 60 cakes each year that she sells to residents of The Buckingham to raise money for Volunteer Interfaith Caregivers-Southwest. The organization is committed to providing free one-on-one assistance to seniors in southwest Houston through a network of volunteers.

“I start taking orders in November from the residents here at The Buckingham,” said Liesner, a native of Germany. “In addition to a Christmas cake, this year I offered the option of a chocolate cake, lemon cake or Linzer tart. Depending on the orders, I usually bake about four to six cakes a day up until the 15th of the month. I pay for all the ingredients myself and bake here in my own kitchen, donating all of the proceeds to Volunteer Interfaith Caregivers.”

Inge’s delicious cakes are sold for $25 each, a price she says is a small one to pay given the opportunity to help support those that can’t find something to eat. She believes it is especially important to help an organization like Volunteer Interfaith, which gives 95 percent of its donations to the people it serves.

“We live in a rich country and don’t always adequately take care of those in the most need, including the homebound or frail, many who are alone at the holidays,” added Liesner. “If I can spend some extra time in the kitchen to give my friends and families a reason to donate to this worthy cause, then I’m happy to do it to hopefully raise awareness and make a real difference for someone that’s not as lucky as I have been.”

“Inge is an inspiration to us all for her dedication to bringing our residents together and helping those in need with the most effective tool – food,” said Julie Fenske, executive director of The Buckingham. “The smells of her baking herald the spirit of the season here at The Buckingham, reminding us all to recognize where our gifts and advantages can be used to give back to others.”

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An early Christmas came to The Buckingham retirement community, which hosted its seventh annual holiday party for residents, staff and their families. The celebration, staged by 30 resident volunteers as a way to give back to staff, brought together the entire community and their families for a festive morning complete with Santa, gifts, and an oversized gingerbread house the children were able to eat.


“This is a huge celebration for everyone that makes up our community here at The Buckingham,” said Margaret Hare, who coordinates the event each year. “I have seven-year-old quintuplet great-grandchildren who have come their whole lives – it’s just a part of their holiday tradition now. This is our chance to come together in celebration of the season’s gifts of family, fun and gratitude.”


Approximately 200 guests attended this year’s event, including resident and staff families from all over Houston – Spring Branch, Katy, Sugarland, Humble, Cypress, Spring, Kingwood and Pearland, among other areas. In addition to participating in fun holiday activities, children received a personal picture with Santa, played by one of The Buckingham’s drivers, and gifts chosen and delivered by residents in festive red vests.


“It’s always a treat to see what the team of about 30 resident volunteers pulls together for this party each year,” said Julie Fenske, executive director of The Buckingham. “From Margaret Hare and her team of volunteers, to German-born Inge Liesner who bakes the huge gingerbread cake the kids then get to eat, it’s an organic celebration borne of this close-knit community.”


The Buckingham subscribes to the Masterpiece Living® programphilosophy, which encourages a healthy lifestyle in all regards – physical, mental, social and spiritual. Time spent with friends and family and the opportunity to serve others is a natural extension of this approach, accentuated by the holiday spirit of love and charity.

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Special guests and residents of The Buckingham retirement community recently enjoyed “A Conversation With Jane Seymour” as part of the community’s Red Carpet Speaker Series. The internationally beloved celebrity visited to discuss her personal journey and remarkable career, from Bond girl to global humanitarian, which has spanned decades and art forms. Seymour made two appearances, providing time to personally meet members of the audience and answer questions after her remarks, which also touched on her role as executive producer of the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, as well as her Open Heart series of books and jewelry. 

A mother of six and grandmother of five, Seymour, 64, caught Hollywood’s (and the world’s) attention as a Bond girl in Live and Let Die. Since then, she has constantly honed her broad artistic talents in projects that have ranged from theatre, television and the silver screen to jewelry design, painting, writing and advocacy. In addition to an impressive turn on Dancing with the Stars that fulfilled the lifelong dancer’s dream, Seymour has also been actively involved with humanitarian work as a member of the American Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet, an International Ambassador for Childhelp and the founder of the Open Hearts Foundation. 

“Jane Seymour is widely regarded as one of our generation’s great women and beauties,” said Julie Fenske, executive director of The Buckingham. “Even with all of her success, she remains committed to helping others enjoy the peace and power of the message she shares through her Open Hearts books and jewelry. She was engaging as she shared personal stories from her past and treated us to a segment of the music video for Glen Campbell’s ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You,’ the 2015 Oscar-nominated song from the documentary she produced, as well as a video of a recent art session she had with Campbell, who has Alzheimer’s disease. We were honored to host this legend at The Buckingham.”

“From her experience as a Bond girl in Live and Let Die with Roger Moore to the close friendship she shared with costar Christopher Reeve in the cult classic Somewhere in Time, I think everyone learned something new and fascinating about Jane Seymour,” said Fenske. “She has a true passion for enhancing the lives of others in any way she can, which she did for us at The Buckingham by personally sharing her life journey.”

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett Photography

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The Buckingham residents enjoy an exclusive Oktobe

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the premier of the biographical drama The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt about a daredevil in the 1970s who plans to walk a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers. However, The Buckingham, Houston’s premier life care senior living community, is focused on generating buzz about a very different walk in the Houston area for a cause that trumps any cinematic experience. The Buckingham is raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Association and is assembling a team for the November 7 local Walk to End Alzheimer’s® event.  Residents, family members, and staff members of The Buckingham have made the pledge to walk and recently held a kick-off event. Their goal is to increase awareness about and raise funds to support research efforts to find a cure, provide more treatment options and identify preventive methods for Alzheimer’s Disease. The Buckingham’s goal is to make a donation of $20,000 to the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, and the community already expects to exceed that amount.


“With more than 340,000 Texans now living with Alzheimer’s and a new diagnosis resulting every 67 seconds in our nation, it is critical to make sure people are knowledgeable about this common form of dementia and support those who are researching it further,” said Julie Fenske, executive director of The Buckingham and board member of the Alzheimer’s Association.  “We at The Buckingham want to take part in educating the community at large and equipping people with the proper resources so that they can be informed as well as optimistic if they have a loved one with Alzheimer’s or are diagnosed with it themselves. Events like this kick-off celebration are always unifying and uplifting as we join forces for such a worthy cause.”


Leading up to the walk in November, The Buckingham will host a series of events to raise funds including a “Pet Mascot” contest during which residents and employees can donate to vote for their favorite community pet. At the recent kick-off event, The Buckingham hosted a silent auction featuring an assortment of items provided by vendors such as Stella & Dot and Family Tree. So far, the team has raised more than $4,500 and has a team of nearly 20 members, which is still growing. The Buckingham typically has more than 50 residents participate in the walk each year and would welcome other friends and community members in the area to join their team.


As Houston’s only life care community, The Buckingham has not only resort-style independent living residences but multiple levels of living, all located on the same campus. The Plaza at The Buckingham provides a full range of health care services onsite, including memory support. Therefore, many staff members at the community are personally motivated to join this effort as they witness firsthand the effects of dementia and work with families daily to help them better understand Alzheimer’s. The Buckingham has participated every year since 2007 and has been recognized as the top corporate fund raiser on several occasions.


If you are interested in joining The Buckingham team or would like to donate toward The Buckingham community’s goal, visit the 2015 Houston’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s website and search for The Partners of The Buckingham Team.