Patti and Richard Rutenberg feel like they are living the retirement dream at the Bridgewater at Viera 55+ Community.

“My wife and I pinch ourselves,” Richard Rutenberg said. “We can’t believe we have a place like this.”

From watching the wildlife that wanders onto their property to enjoying the serenity of their backyard pond, the Rutenbergs have arrived.

“It’s very peaceful,” Richard Rutenberg said. “When the wind is blowing, it looks like the land is sailing. The landscaping is amazing, right down to where they are going to plant the palm trees.”

Both Patti and Richard are teachers. In 1995, Patti started teaching the second grade at Lewis Carroll Elementary School before transferring to MILA Elementary, which she attended as a young girl. Richard has been teaching math at Central Middle School in West Melbourne since 2005. 

Richard views teaching as a hobby, but envisions retirement in the near future.

Patti retired in 2016 due to health reasons, after having undergone treatments for ovarian cancer a decade earlier. She taught for Brevard Public Schools for

30 years.

“A lot of women like me manage to survive cancer,” Patti said. “What they don’t tell you is the damage that’s done to your body in order to survive. Two years ago, I found out I had Barrett’s esophagus. For women, it’s aggressive. That’s when we decided I could not work anymore. I did not feel like I could work as a teacher, taking the medication I needed to take. I was in pain without the medication.” 

Her doctors told her she needed to make a lifestyle change. They considered moving out of the county but decided on settling in Viera. 

This past June, the Rutenbergs celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary. They met while they were students at the University of Alabama. They moved to Mississippi before moving back to Florida, actually for Patti.

Patti graduated from Merritt Island High School. When the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, she moved to Alabama with her family, where she attended college and met Richard. Her family eventually moved back to Brevard County. The couple followed suit and bought a home on Merritt Island where they raised their two sons. 

Alex, 25, is a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Michael is a student at Eastern Florida State College. Both live with their parents in Viera.

“We love it here. It’s not just for the young. It’s a great place to retire,” Patti said.

“It’s a wonderful, planned community,” Richard added. “It has everything we really want. Patti’s doctors are close by.” Not to mention the Costco, Walmart and Target stores as well as a new Publix.

Richard loves that the power in Viera stays on during storms. “We also do not have to evacuate during hurricane season,” he said. “What’s not to like about living in Viera?”