Meet Carlton Senior Living spotlight resident, Celeste Van Fleet – Celeste was born November 18, 1923, to parents Albert and Celeste Clark, in Baltimore, Maryland. She had two siblings, Dorothy Ann, and Jim. Jim passed away at an early age after an aircraft accident while he was in the US Air Force. Celeste attended public school at Roland Park and was an Arts and Crafts major at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in the heart of Baltimore.
She met and married Robert Samuel Van Fleet, an officer candidate at the US Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. He was a journalist, and the two moved to Middletown, New York, his hometown, in February 1946. He wrote for the Middletown Times Herald, with Celeste working closely in the “morgue,” clipping and filing histories on those who had passed.
Celeste and Robert had three children, James, Christopher, and Robert Jr. She loved being able to learn and play a variety of sports with them. Celeste became the director of volunteers at Horton Medical Center in Middletown. She also eventually taught tennis lessons and played in a women’s doubles eastern division association. She took up golf, her spouse’s sport, and was a one-time women’s champion in 1949, while pregnant with her 2nd son. She claims that helped her balance while playing.
One favorite life experience Celeste describes was booking passage on a container ship en route to New Zealand, by way of Savannah, Georgia, the Panama Canal, and Tahiti, to Auckland. She had seen it listed in the travel section of the New York Times and thought it would be a great adventure. The ship had seven passengers, a swimming pool, and about 35 British and Filipino officers and crew. They had a wonderful month getting to know each other and experiencing life at sea.
The container ship adventure was just one of many trips afloat. A most memorable one was with her son, Jim, his wife Sarah, and their two children, Jeremy and Becca, who captained a narrow boat on a canal to Bath for four days.
Celeste says a message she would like to pass along to others is that “People are basically good.” She enjoys knitting, home design, and volunteer work in many capacities. She also didn’t hesitate to say her favorite dinner is prime rib and fried chicken wings in bacon grease! And what can compare to apple pie for dessert?! Her favorite movies include the classics Brief Encounter, I Know Where I’m Going!, and The King and I.
The person she most admires from her life is a grandmother she met when she moved to Middletown. This woman was a World War I nurse, and Celeste admired and loved her for her warmth, family, and importance to her life. We are glad to have Celeste as a member of our Carlton Senior Living Davis family.
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Written by Eric Demuth