Most people know Sun City and Sun City West as great places to live. Originally catering to retirees, these days seniors still working are as much the norm as not.
Either way, the two communities offer an abundance of amenities, low taxes and a slower pace of life.
Unfortunately, too many new buyers are not aware of the remarkable history that comes along with their purchase. Since 1989, the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum has been working to help people understand how influential their communities were in shaping the age-restricted marketplace.
The museum has been marginally successful. Housed in the first model home in Sun City’s Phase 1, attendance has been growing each year. Exhibits have been well done with an exceptional educational component for those who took the time to read them.
About a year-and-a-half ago, museum President Don Tuffs created a strategic planning committee. He asked the small group to identify its goals for the next five years. The decision was made to lay claim to the one aspect of Sun City we had all but ignored.
While there were other communities dedicated to senior living, none focused on an “active lifestyle.” Sun City, Arizona was the first of its kind.
Retirement most often meant a sedentary, rocking chair existence. When Sun City opened Jan. 1, 1960, the community already had a recreation center, a nine-hole golf course, lawn bowling green and a fully functional shopping center.
Virtually every ad featured the “new active way of life” mantra. The homes were nicely appointed, but buyers were most excited by the concept of being “back in the game.”
Retirement no longer meant being relegated to babysitting the grandchildren. It truly changed how seniors thought of retirement.
Buried in closets and cupboards were all the original ads, the model home brochures and 3,000-plus digitized photographs. The museum had it all, but it was always a challenge finding a way to showcase that history. During the summer months a small committee changed all of that.
We’ve “branded” the museum with the moniker, “Sun City AZ, The Community That Changed A Nation.”
It’s a bold statement, but one that will be evident when you visit the museum and see the new displays in person. The obvious challenge is making that work with the pandemic raging.
Anyone living in Sun City and Sun City West should just savor the joy of living in communities that reshaped the entire country.
Editor’s Note: Bill Pearson is a Del Webb Sun Cities Museum board member and a past president.