Nine-year Garden of Palms resident Phyllis Kraft continues to, literally, master the art of living. In fact, it is fitting that her last name is Kraft, as her suite is awash with color coming from painted canvases, boxes and objects she’s made herself. Her prized artist’s bench, covered in brushes, paints and other supplies faces her window. The centerpieces of her space are two needlepoint cushions of Indian Elephant motifs, which are also her handiwork.
The former Kansas City resident is particularly fond of the daily activities and special outings focused on the crafting and appreciation of the visual arts. “As I was always interested in art, I studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, and to this day I always have to be doing something connected with art,” she says. “All of the activities keep us engaged and interested. I love to knit, and I belong to that group, as well. As a lifelong fan of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and the other masters, I have enjoyed the opportunities to visit the Getty, LACMA, MOCA, as well as auction houses and other cultural spots throughout Los Angeles.”
Kraft and her surgeon husband built their family and a wonderful life together in Kansas City over the course of 40 years. His retirement brought the couple to Palm Springs and, later, to Los Angeles to be close to their children and grandchildren. Kraft has fond memories volunteering at Menorah Hospital, where her husband worked, as well as the times when generations of her family got together for High Holy Days and other holidays. She still experiences that familial joy during the observances at Garden of Palms.
“I remember my parents coming to visit and staying with us, and how joyous our celebrations were,” says Kraft. “They always loved being with our children, and we always loved our family connections. Here at Garden of Palms, everybody here (staff and residents) is a part of the family. That’s how I feel—they’re all my sisters and brothers. However, I also like the fact Garden of Palms is close to my children, as well as Cedars Sinai hospital and this very nice area of L.A.”
Kraft says Garden of Palms was the first and the last place she and her daughter looked at because she wanted a kosher community. The transition to her life at the center was smooth, and her life here today presents her a new canvas of possibilities everyday.
“I am almost 90 years and am slowing down, yet still find ways to stay busy,” she says. “I enjoy all of the activities here, as there are always new things to learn. I enjoy playing bocce. I like the Chabad services on Shabbos as well as the kosher food. There are no complaints here.”