Snowbird Seniors

Local couples share why they fly back to Woodbury each spring.

Spring means many things to eager Minnesotans, who can resume beloved outdoor activities unencumbered by down lining and flannel. For retirees who shed their coats in pursuit of winter warmth in places such as Arizona, California and Florida, springtime means returning home to friends, family and the great town of Woodbury.

While they each migrate to different parts of the country, the Browns and the Haumersens share why they love the snowbird life, and what draws them back to Woodbury each spring.

Jean & Rufus Brown
Winter destination: Green Valley, Arizona

Having lived here for 75+ years, Jean and Rufus Brown’s local roots run deep. They’ve spent the past 20 years heading to Arizona to enjoy warmer weather, but return each spring to be closer to family and friends. “We’re always back to spend Easter with the family,” Jean says. The Browns have a son, Dan, in Chatfield, Minnesota, and another, Dave, in Eagan, plus three grandchildren. “We just love everything about Woodbury; we would never leave Minnesota,” Jean says.

The Browns enjoy staying active in Minnesota. “We have a granddaughter on the pre-Olympic soccer team, so it’s fun to able to go to her games,” Jean says. “We enjoy hiking and biking. There are so many nice trails right around here.” Rufus adds, “We also spend our time gardening and doing yard work.”

The couple are active volunteers with the Washington County Historical Society and Feed My Starving Children. Rufus is a longtime member of the Woodbury Lions Club and plays bridge regularly with Lions friends. They are also active members of Woodbury United Methodist Church.

But when the cold sets in, the Browns head for Green Valley, Arizona, which Jean describes as a small country town. “We wanted someplace entirely different,” she says. “It’s a fun way to spend your later years after retirement. You can keep doing the things you used to do and you don’t have to worry about the weather.” When they are in Arizona, they play bridge and go line dancing; they also tutor on the Navajo Reservation and volunteer at a mission in Nogales where they help prepare the noon meal.

When asked if he misses his snow blower, Rufus says, “Not a bit. I like that I can get up early to get the paper and I don’t have to dress warm.”

(Jean and Rufus with their grandchildren: Meghan, Wesley and Hannah Brown.)

Kathy & Dave Haumersen
Winter destination: Fort Myers, Florida

Woodbury residents since 1975, Kathy and Dave Haumersen enjoy an active winter social life filled with golfing, fishing and games with their community of friends in Fort Myers, Florida. Their winter home also happens to be conveniently located within a mile of the Minnesota Twins spring training ballpark.

But Kathy and Dave head back up north when the Florida heat begins to kick in. “Just when it starts to get really hot, I love to come back and open my windows and get fresh air,” Kathy says.

With their two children and five grandchildren in Woodbury and Eagan, the Haumersens come back to great quality time with family. “I go fishing once a week on the St. Croix with my son,” says Dave, who is also an avid golfer at River Oaks in Cottage Grove. “We love going to see our grandkids’ games,” Kathy says. Dave says the entire family gets together about twice a month and enjoys having picnics.

And there is no shortage of social life back in Minnesota for Kathy and Dave, who love the community at their co-op. “Just getting the mail can take an hour,” Kathy says. She enjoys playing cards and dominos multiple times a week as well as a monthly ladies’ luncheon. They both also serve on committees in their co-op and are very active in their church.

Kathy and Dave enjoy exploring with day trips around the Twin Cities “We love Minnehaha Falls, Stillwater and Taylors Falls,” Dave says. “We also take a week up in northern Minnesota.”

Even after 12 years of heading south from September to May, this couple still comes back for a month in December to spend holidays with their children and grandchildren. “It’s just not Christmas without the snow,” Kathy says.

(Kathy and Dave Haumersen; Photos this spread by Marissa Martinson)
(Kathy and Dave Haumersen; Photos this spread by Marissa Martinson)