Mount Laurel, New Jersey
It was hard to watch. They
had both worked hard their
whole lives and it was sad
that they had to struggle.”
When Gloria's husband died of a massive
coronary, she found herself alone with three children
under 15 years old living on her schoolteacher’s salary.
Five years later, Gloria remarried to Alex,
a divorced man with sole custody of his four boys.
Suddenly there was a family of nine including seven
teenagers under one roof. “All my friends said we
were The Brady Bunch,” Gloria says. “And I would say,
‘No, we don’t have Alice, the cleaning lady.’”
There are the obvious joys of raising a large family. And then
there are the issues—such as getting them all through school. Alex, a construction project supervisor, and Gloria supported
some of the kids through private school and then put six of the
seven through college—four at Providence College, one at Maryville
in Tennessee and one at Drexel in Philadelphia. There is a sense
of pride in working hard to provide your children with good
educations. But the parents were not able to save for retirement.
Gloria retired from teaching in 2006 at 67. Alex retired in
2007 at 71. They downsized from their family home to a three
bedroom townhouse in a development called Essex Place in
Mount Laurel, New Jersey, a short drive from Cherry Hill and
then across the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia.
The family tried to live on her public school teacher’s pension
and both of their Social Security. Gloria soon became bored and
went back to work part-time as a substitute teacher.
“But they were scraping on a daily basis,” says Charlotte, the oldest of the seven kids. “It was hard to watch.
They had both worked hard their whole lives and it was sad that
they had to struggle.”
Charlotte, who now lives with her husband and two daughters
in North Kingston, Rhode Island, had recently become Vice
President of Residential Lending at the Randolph Savings Bank
following a stint as a subprime lender at Wilmington Finance, a
role she did not enjoy playing. “At our bank we felt we were
doing the right thing,“ Charlotte says, “but we knew our
competitors took everyone in whether they could afford the loan
or not. There was tremendous pressure from people on Wall Street, who
kept calling and asking us to deliver as many mortgages as we
could. We weren’t surprised when the subprime business ended and it
was a relief to get out of it.“
The Randolph Bank held seminars for staff on various subjects,
including reverse mortgages. Charlotte attended one and
thought this might be right for her parents. “I went three times
to make sure I thought it was the right thing,“ she says.
Convinced the vehicle was sound, Charlotte gathered her six
siblings under one roof during summer vacation down at the Jersey
shore to discuss their parents utilizing the equity in their home
now instead of passing it on to the heirs. “I wasn’t sure how they
would all respond,“ she says. “But none of us wanted to see them
struggle and we agreed unanimously.“
Charlotte connected her parents with Wells Fargo Bank and they took out a reverse mortgage with which they paid off
the $70,000 mortgage on their home, lowering their monthly
expenses to a manageable place and maintaining a substantial
line of credit.“
“It’s a great advantage to us living on a fixed income to not have
to worry about bills every month anymore,“ says Gloria.
“I don’t know why people say that reverse mortgages are like
subprime loans,“ adds Charlotte. “I worked in subprime and
I think the two loans are exactly the opposite. Subprime loans put
borrowers in positions where they could lose their homes, but
reverse mortgages are designed specifically to keep people in