Sycamore Reserve offers its own version of independent living for seniors


By Mike Beas

Frank and Barbara Watson have called Sycamore Reserve in Indianapolis their home for more than two years.

During that time, the couple, married 47 years as of March 4, has remained active while branching out socially – all while maintaining a sense of independent living.

“The staff are all good people, and our neighbors are varied and gifted,” Frank said. “And they’ve lived interesting lives.”

The Watsons blend right in.

Until 2015, it was common for Frank Watson 79, a former youth worker and small business owner, to portray Benjamin Franklin at major historical reenactments approximately five times per year. Barbara, now 87, portrayed the fictional Goodye Watson, a female character she developed who served as Ben Franklin’s traveling companion.

The couple took part in reenactments for roughly 10 years.

Having long ago set aside their round-rimmed specs and attire best befitting a previous century, the Watsons don’t lack opportunities to stay busy at Sycamore Reserve, which provides two meals a day, transportation and one-weekly housekeeping.

Among the couple’s preferred activities is meeting neighbors for fireside chats.

“I play a little bit of music,” Frank said. “It used to be guitar, but now it’s ukulele, banjo or mandolin, and Barbara plays spoons.”

Born in Martinsville, Frank is a 1961 graduate of Trafalgar High School. Barbara is originally from Detroit, although her family moved to Broad Ripple when she was a freshman in high school.

Since moving to Sycamore Reserve, the couple likes to take part in bingo, euchre, sing-alongs and yoga.

And then, Frank said, there are the meals, which he describes as excellent.

Barbara’s top choices are fish and chips, or a hot dog topped with chili and cheese. Her husband often opts for the meatloaf or salmon main dish, accompanying it with a salad.

“We have two fine chefs, and the dining room, the Wabash Room, is pleasant,” Frank said. “We have a nice walk down there, and you can order from the menu.”

Even during idle moments, nature has a way of providing its own unique version of entertainment.

Looking out the couple’s window, Barbara has seen deer, a coyote and several hawks.

The goal of those employed by Sycamore Reserve is to inspire residents to live their lives to the fullest.

Suffice it to say, Frank and Barbara Watson are doing exactly that.

“Every day, we will look at each other, look around and say, ‘This is a good place to be,’” Frank said. “We love it here.”