Manor Moments

Resident Profile: Meet the Tilton’s

November 2022

Interviewed and written by Resident Debbie Tice

It is often said that in life, timing is everything. This certainly seems to apply to Rita van Alkemade and her husband Tim Tilton, who moved to Cornwall Manor in November of 2021.  Tim and Rita had been on the waiting list for eighteen months, making frequent forays here from Carlisle to look at various houses.  They found their dream home on Gatehouse Lane, next to the Rail Trail, but never expected it to become available.  And then, in a stroke of serendipity, it did!  That happy outcome was just the most recent in a string of well-timed occurrences throughout their lives together.

Their lovely home, with its loft and full basement, provides the ideal space for Rita’s art. The basement studio showcases an impressive collection of her sculptures, drawings, paintings, and mixed-media creations.  Rita was born in the Bronx, New York, just a home run’s roar from the old Yankee Stadium. She has been artistic her entire life, starting when she was just a child fashioning sculptures from her dad’s pipe cleaners.  She married young and moved to Wisconsin with her Dutch immigrant husband, whom she met while working on the 57th floor of the Empire State building. They had two sons and a daughter, but the marriage didn’t last, and they parted ways.

One July 4th evening in Wisconsin, shortly after her divorce, Rita was dancing in what she describes as a neighborhood “cowboy dive” when she locked eyes with a handsome young man. This was Tim, of course, who, as fate would have it, was instantly smitten with Rita.  Both describe it as love at first sight.  A mutual friend introduced them, and they have been together ever since.  This was the first of many well-timed events to come.

Tim has a Master’s degree in urban planning, which he earned after serving in Viet Nam with the Navy Seabees.  After he and Rita married, they continued to live in his native state of Wisconsin, where he worked as an urban planner and Rita pursued a fine arts degree from the University of Wisconsin.

After eight years in Wisconsin, Tim and Rita moved to Sarasota, Florida.  There, Tim was an urban planner for Sarasota County and Rita worked at the Ringling School of Art and Design as Assistant Director of the art gallery and later as Assistant Director of Continuing Education.  They lived in Sarasota for over fifteen years, building a network of close friends and associates. Fate, however, was about to intervene once again.

Hoping to placate relatives who were attempting to lure them to Scottsdale, Arizona, Tim applied for a job there, knowing he was not qualified for it.  As he predicted, he wasn’t hired for that position, but in yet another stroke of serendipity, a great urban planning job suddenly became available in Phoenix.  Tim and Rita were conflicted about moving from Sarasota and leaving their support system, but they decided to take the plunge.  Once more, their timing proved impeccable.  Within months of their move, that social structure dissolved, as nearly all their friends also left Sarasota.

Rita and Tim lived in Scottsdale for the next ten years, Tim working as a principal planner.  Rita taught crafts classes and art at her mother’s CCRC, enabling her to fulfill her artistic pursuits while spending precious quality time with her mother. They enjoyed their years in Arizona, but something was missing.

Eventually, the longing for seasons and “anything green” brought them east, to Carlisle.  Their daughter, Kim van Alkemade, bestselling author of Orphan # 8 and Bachelor Girl, was a professor at Shippensburg University, so they settled in nearby Carlisle.  They resided there for ten years, before deciding to find their permanent retirement home. After visiting numerous CCRCs, they fell in love with Cornwall Manor, where they obviously were meant to be.

Now Tim and Rita are pursuing new adventures, enjoying more time with their three grandchildren, adorable cocker spaniel, Bowie, and meeting new friends.  If you visit this delightful couple, be sure to take a

tour of Rita’s magnificent art studio. If you love cars, Tim will give you a garage tour, complete with his guidebook featuring photos of the 45 vehicles (including a fire engine and the three motorcycles) he has owned. The centerpiece of the tour is a gorgeous, midnight-blue 2012 Mustang GT convertible, perfect for tooling around the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside on a warm sunny day!