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Touching Lives

Designed with your comfort and ease of lifestyle in mind

At Heritage Woods of Rockford, your affordable assisted lifestyle community in Rockford, Illinois, your new home awaits you

Heritage Woods of Rockford is proud to provide a choice of apartment floor plans, each designed with your comfort and ease of lifestyle in mind. Our spacious apartments are designed with a living room area, kitchenette, full private bathroom and individually controlled air temperature.

Path to Graduation: A letter from
Vicki Ragner

Dear Crystal, 

You once asked me why I was going to college at my age. I think it was a “bucket list’ thing. I grew up very poor and never thought about college, as it turned out I was a very good student all through school.


I always enjoyed school. After graduating from Auburn High School IN 1963,

I thought about going to Northern Illinois. However, I had a boyfriend and did not want to leave him. Therefore, I did not go. I got a good job and kept Tom.  

We were married on August 2, 1964 and had three children. We were not rich but lived well. 


At the age of 30, I had a nervous breakdown,  I felt life was over and I was “old” . That’s when I decided to go to Rock Valley College. I had three children and a full-time job so I was only able to take one class per semester. There were so many times I could not go because I didn’t have money. I kept plugging along. 


I was diagnosed with leukemia in 1989. I’m in remission now. My husband later died in 2013 and I started having heart problem and had to have open heart surgery . After moving into Heritage Woods of Rockford (6 years later) I decided to go back for my associate degree. I got off course after I came because my daughter suddenly passed away.  My mother passed away the same year. 


Once I started , I had to finish.

Now I’m graduating on May 19, 2023. Hoorah!!!! I finally did it!!! 


The staff and residents of Heritage Woods were so very encouraging to me . They called me the “college girl” . Their encouragement was very much appreciated. They kept me going and cheering me on . Many of the residents here are “my family” . I am so excited to share my special day with all of them.



This fall I am going for a Philosophy Moral class just for fun. I plan to attend as long as I’m able too, who knows maybe I will get another associates degree!



Vicki Ragner

Photo of Vicki Graduation Day

Able Mabel: Mabel’s Story

Meet Mabel, the 95 years old wife and mother of 2 from Tomahawk, WI. After high school, Mabel started working as an accountant for Ben Franklin Crafts when she met her husband, who was born and raised in the Rockford, IL area. Through some mutual friends.

Mabel took some time from her accounting work when she had her two daughters but went back part-time as an accountant for a local furniture factory when they were in grade school. When they were in high school, she went to full-time.

Unfortunately, Mabel lost her husband in 1980, but that didn’t stop Mabel for being able. She worked all the way up to 65 when she retired from the furniture factory (that went out of business shortly after, talk about impeccable timing!)

It may sound like Mabel has had a standard life but don’t let her love of puzzles and ability to knit anything throw you, Mabel has some interesting tales to tell! Mabel’s daughter and son-in-law lived and worked in Hollywood, CA, and so Mabel has had the opportunity to meet some pretty hot ticket celebrities like Johnny Carson and Pa Sajak, but for me, the REAL showstopper, is the fact she was actually ON Richard Simmons daily talk show working out with a fitness icon while sporting a pink track suit!

I searched high and low through decades of archives looking for the tape but turned up empty handed.

After her retirement, and prior to moving in to Heritage Woods of Rockford, Mabel found purpose in leading the water aerobics class at the YMCA for 12 years, which furthered her belief in “Sink or Swim,” proving you’re never too ‘old’ to be healthy and active.

September 2019 Mabel moved to Heritage Woods of Rockford and from then on has refused to use the pandemic as an excuse to sit on the couch and eat Bon Bons. Mable started out in the library, “The library really needed a lot of help, I didn’t even ask, I just took over the library,” she states.

After almost a year of being stuck in her room die to unforeseeable COVID related circumstances, they started allowing very small groups to gather again. Since then, Mabel has taken it upon herself to be the BINGO wrangler, the portable librarian, and her most recent job adventure is the morning exercise routine instructor, providing you’re never “too old” to keep active!

PEACH of a Gal: Helen Celebrates Birthday with Drive-By Parade

On Saturday, April 25, 2020, approximately 140 cars paraded by Heritage Woods of Rockford, an affordable assisted lifestyle community managed by Gardant Management Solutions, to pay tribute to one of the original Rockford Peaches. Helen “Sis” Waddell had a key role for the women’s baseball team and later in the movie A League of Their Own.

Helen played for the Rockford Peaches in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in 1950 and 1951. She is a local celebrity who has called Rockford, IL her home since her professional baseball career ended.

Helen turned 90 years old on Friday, April 24. In tribute, her family spearheaded a campaign to honor this local icon with a Birthday Drive-By Parade. The parade, hosted at Heritage Woods of Rockford, received attention from local news stations as well.

Neil Wyatt, Helen’s son, did not expect the huge turnout. It ended up being about a 40-minute parade in celebration of his mother.

There were hoots, hollers, honks and lots of fanfare for a very deserving PEACH of a gal!


Ruth’s Story: Discovering a New Life at Heritage Woods of Rockford

Ruth Mahay was born into a loving home, but from the beginning, she had some health issues, and life would always be a bit of a struggle for her.

Due to those issues, Ruth couldn’t live on her own. She was able to work and got a job in a toy factory for 19 years. When her mother suffered from a stroke and had to move into a nursing home, Ruth would need a new home.  She moved in with Pat, her younger sister.

Always one to stay busy, Ruth started volunteering and working with children at the Harlem Community Center. She enjoyed the job, and her new home was so close that she was able to walk there. Ruth also worked as a school lunch aide. Not being one to let anything define her, she got involved in the Special Olympics, too, earning many ribbons and medals over the years.

Things eventually slowed down and after living with her sister for 23 years, Pat realized that Ruth needed a change. Ruth was spending too much time watching television in her room; she would even eat her meals in front of the TV! Her sister thought she was spending too much time alone and decided to visit Heritage Woods of Rockford.

“This would be a perfect fit,” she thought, wanting to see Ruth happily engaged with others again.

Seven years ago, Ruth walked through the front doors of Heritage Woods. At first, she was scared and nervous, but she quickly adjusted and was so happy to be part of a community. For the first time, she had her own home, and she has gained some independence. Her sister and niece decorated her new home beautifully, and Ruth was so excited to show it to all her new friends and neighbors — and even to potential residents who come to tour!

As far as television, that has taken a back seat because she is so busy with all of the activities that Heritage Woods has to offer. Ruth attends nearly every activity and goes on most of our outings. She is an Ambassador (part of our welcoming committee) and a Baking Buddy (our group that bakes and raises money for local charities). She has been a part of the Affordable Assistant Living Coalition’s Wii Bowling Competition for seven  years as well, so she is one busy lady — to say the least.

If someone is touring our community, Ruth is anxious to tell them how much she loves living here and all her reasons why we have helped her become a social butterfly again!