by: Joyce Wilden
Linda Raycroft began life in Levittown, Pennsylvania in 1959. At the time, Levittown was the largest suburban planned community in the United States, with over 17,000 single family homes, along with churches, schools and shopping centers. Linda recalls it as filled with young families, and a great place to run and play. Athletic young Linda was an avid reader and felt drawn to history and literature, as well as science and medicine. It was the latter that prompted her to obtain a degree from St. Francis School of Nursing in Trenton, New Jersey.
Curious Linda quickly decided nursing was really not “it” and she embarked on a varied career path that included professional recruiting and assisting families in crisis. At the end of 1994, destiny brought her to Indian River Colony Club where she met John Raycroft, “a fantastic man” who would become her husband. John, who is Head Mechanic and assists with golf course supervision at the IRCC golf course, has been a staff member since the community first began. The couple live nearby, which is helpful since work days begin as early as 4:30 AM. Linda is the very busy Supervisor of Housekeeping/Pools and her staff of 13 handle interior and exterior housekeeping duties for residents who opt for the service. Pressure washing patio decks, removing mildew from exterior walls and cleaning screens and windows is all in a day’s work, as is routine maintenance for 109 neighborhood swimming pools.
When asked what makes the Housekeeping department at Indian River Colony Club different, Linda answered readily. “We care about the members like we do our own families and they care about us. The staff is extremely dedicated and many have been here 10 years or more. And the fact that we are right here at IRCC is very important for the members. The homeowners feel secure knowing that it will be the same person coming regularly to their home.” While fate has thrown a few curveballs to the grandmother of two, she cites the 19 years at IRCC as some of the most rewarding of her life.
A Cut Above
by: Joyce Wilden
Executive Chef Ken Turner is known for matching the print of his chef’s pants to the culinary theme of the day. His easy grin and “can do” attitude have earned the Syracuse, New York native the friendship and respect of his nine food service staffers and the members of Indian River Colony Club. At 15, his future beckoned. Vacationing with family in the Bahamas, Ken swam after a flounder for 45 minutes before spearing the large fish. Once ashore, he headed straight to the kitchen of the family bungalow to prepare the freshly caught lunch. The Eau Gallie High School graduate recalls many happy weekends spent fishing, crabbing and harvesting clams from the Indian River. Later, Ken attended the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, where he received a degree in Culinary Arts. While there, he met a wonderful gal who was also in food service. He and wife Sherry have been together ever since and have two children, Darek and Devan.
Since 1998, Ken has been the Indian River Colony Club Executive Chef, responsible for kitchen operations in the “At Ease Club” restaurant and Colony Hall. The latter is a large banquet facility, available to both club members and the general public for receptions and parties. Behind the scenes, Ken and his staff ensure that everyone is served the best quality foods. “At IRCC, I have the freedom to bring in a large variety of fresh foods every day. We change our menu every four months and run five daily specials and three nightly specials.”
Like so many of the IRCC staff, Ken enjoys a family-like relationship with members, who know him by name. He recalls a newly arrived pair from Maine who lamented the lack of lobsters “from home” as they prepared to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Ken had the crustaceans shipped specially from Maine and presented the astonished couple with a five-course meal they still talk about today! Other culinary miracles include treasured family recipes recreated for a party of 100. Ken smiles and reminds us of his motto, “If we can do it — you can have it!”
Lisa Braun, Perfect in Every Detail
by: Joyce Wilden
Lisa Braun knows how to “multi-task.” The Banquet Manager for Indian River Colony Club learned the valuable skill as she navigated a career path that eventually led her to Viera. The West Deptford, New Jersey native devoted her youth to academics, sports, theatre and student government. Trading West Chester University for a hotel job in Atlantic City led to a series of promotions, intensive training in Food and Beverage Management and a stint at Trump’s famed “Taj Mahal.” The next 15 years was devoted to raising three children, while volunteering
extensively for the Borough of Wenonah, New Jersey and acting as an Elder and Church Financial Officer for Memorial Presbyterian Church of Wenonah. A Councilwoman for 11 years, Lisa chaired numerous important committees and served as Council President. Another volunteer effort included a special teaching certification from the National Alliance of Mental Illness, helping parents of children with emotional needs navigate the school systems.
After a move to Satellite Beach, Lisa resumed her hospitality career, finding her way to Indian River Colony Club in 2012 just as the neighborhood was celebrating its newly remodeled Colony Hall. About 10% of the functions at Colony Hall are for non-members, and Lisa credits the growing segment to the culinary talents of Executive Chef Ken Turner, the experienced servers and the beautiful facilities, which can accommodate various party sizes. Lisa’s goal as Banquet Manager goes far beyond ensuring adequate staffing and table settings. “It is always my goal to have a host walk away smiling and proud,” said Braun. “I strive to serve them to their complete satisfaction, from start to finish.” What motivates Lisa and her co-workers? “We care about the members, their guests and events and that gives us a sense of pride in our work. The members are more than just residents; they are family. They care about us as people, not just employees, and we will always strive to add whatever quality we can to enhance their experiences here. I truly enjoy my position as Banquet Manager simply because I truly enjoy the people at IRCC.”
To Protect & Serve- Don WoodBy: Joyce Wilden
Donald Wood is the friendly face that pops out of the guard shack most often when people enter the Viera gated community of Indian River Colony Club. “Woody” spent his teenage years around horses, working at a stable after school and weekends in his hometown of Summit, New Jersey. He rode his show jumper, Wendy, in many horse shows, including the prestigious Madison Square Garden Horse Show.
Graduation from Summit High School was followed by the Police Academy. Don joined the New Jersey Police Department in 1961. Five years later, he and wife Rosemarie decided to begin an exterminating business. To obtain a state license, Don studied entomology at Rutgers University. By 1986, the thriving company had 47 employees. Don sold the business and settled into early retirement on the scenic Jersey Shore. But “waiting for the mailman every day” was simply not enough. So, for five years he drove a limousine for Bally’s Grand Casino in Atlantic City. Retiring again, it was time for the big move to Florida and a condo in Cocoa Beach. Don spent ten golf-filled years as Afternoon Supervisor at the Manatee Cove Golf Course on Patrick Air Force Base. An auto accident ended his golf days, but meant a fresh start at Indian River Colony Club as the Director of Security.
The former police officer believes IRCC security is superior to other gated neighborhoods. “At IRCC, everyone has to be invited into the complex by residents or management. Contractors must be pre-registered and all guests are accounted for using a dashboard pass or colored decal system.” The “24/7 operation” occupies seven security staff. Neighborhood patrols make multiple rounds per shift through 12 security zones comprising the walled 453-acre community of nearly 800 homes. 50,000+ vehicles per year pass through the Murrell Road main gate or the remotely monitored Viera Boulevard entrance. For Don, the best part of working at IRCC is interacting with the residents, mostly retired military officers and spouses. He recognizes nearly every homeowner on sight and often trades banter at the gate. Security aside, Don marvels, “I’ve never seen people take care of each other the way people do here.”