Rebecca Martin Nagy
Director Emerita at Harn Museum of Art, UF
January 21, 2019 to present
Sixteen years ago, when my husband Paul and I moved to Gainesville from Raleigh in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, we felt we had made the right decision, even though it was difficult to tear ourselves away from that beautiful state. Indeed, we soon fell in love with Gainesville and within a short time decided that, wherever our careers might take us, we would retire here. After 16 years as director of the Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, I’m a new retiree, whereas Paul still works as an executive at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa. When he retires, commuting will be behind him and Gainesville will be his full-time home as well. Like so many of our friends who have chosen to retire here, we love the environment of a college town where being around thousands of young people helps us to remain open-minded and progressive.
The University of Florida and Santa Fe College provide boundless opportunities to enjoy stellar lectures, concerts, theatrical performances, exhibitions and athletic competitions. Community venues round out the plethora of offerings for live theater and music, museum exhibitions and art festivals and for learning about the rich history of our region by visiting the Matheson History Museum, Historic Haile Homestead, Marjorie Kinnan Rawling’s Cross Creek, the Cotton Club Museum and other fascinating sites.
Paul and I enjoy hot weather, so even Florida’s steamy summers are fun for us. For those who swelter in the heat and humidity, the area offers crystal clear springs and beautiful public swimming pools for cool dips, as well as lovely lakes and rivers for swimming and boating.
Located in the center of the state, we are buffered from the full force of tropical storms and hurricanes, but the Gulf and Atlantic coasts are close enough for day trips or weekend getaways. For horse-lovers the region is a mecca, and for non-equestrians the rolling hills of horse country offer delightful escapes for driving or bicycling excursions. Some retirees prefer a rural lifestyle and choose one of the area’s charming, historic small towns for the ideal combination of idyllic surroundings in proximity to the amenities of the city.
Gainesville itself has wonderful old neighborhoods as well as new developments accessible to paths that make it convenient to walk or bike to cultural venues, parks, farmers markets, restaurants and shops. We live in the historic Duck Pond neighborhood and can walk to many of our favorite downtown haunts in just minutes. Early morning walks to Depot Park are a highlight of my flexible retirement schedule. In the heart of downtown, the park is a major attraction for residents of the entire Greater Gainesville region, offering nature walks, birdwatching, concerts, food and drink, and the amazing new Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention.
We are grateful for the excellent health care facilities and professionals available to us in Greater Gainesville. However, our goal in retirement is to stay healthy, mentally and physically, through taking full advantage of the mild climate, beautiful parks, recreational facilities, cultural amenities and libraries, as well as the many opportunities for productive engagement in the community through volunteering.
For all these reasons, although we have worked and traveled the world over, we choose Gainesville as our home.