The Watermark at Napa Valley - Élan Collection

Member Spotlight: Nadina Riggsbee

Nadina Riggsbee has been entertaining—and serving—others throughout her life. Her career began as a dancer, entertaining the troops at bases across Europe around 1966 and later performing in Las Vegas. Eventually, the Boston native married and moved to the West Coast, where she had two children.

It was then that a family tragedy would give her a mission she would use to help countless others. While with a babysitter, her two-year-old daughter, Samira, and one-year-old son, JJ, were briefly left unattended and gained access to the pool; her daughter drowned, and her son was left with a lifelong disability.

Nadina spent the following years caring for her son and fighting for his rights. Because he had a

tracheostomy tube, he wasn’t allowed in public school—until Nadina took the matter to court and won. Even after expanding her family with two more sons, she remained committed to preventing future drowning tragedies: Her fierce determination led her to launch the Drowning Prevention Foundation, which works to prevent drowning by influencing policy and legislation and making water-safety resources more accessible to low-income groups.

Nadina has consulted with various cities and even countries on ways they can boost water safety and prevent drownings. Her efforts have helped to pass various fencing laws and prompted communities to implement free water-safety programs for children, such as No Kids Drown. She also has been instrumental in the installation of life jacket loaner stations for young swimmers at community pools, condo/apartment pools, and Parks and Recreation departments.

In March 2021, Nadina became a resident of The Watermark at Napa Valley. She had been living in Benicia, California, but decided it was time to consider a senior living community for the peace of mind it would give her, knowing there was overnight care. Although she had originally looked for a community near Benicia, it wasn’t until a friend recommended The Watermark at Napa Valley that she found her new home. “After three or four visits, I just knew,” says Nadina, who lives in a two-bedroom residence with a balcony. “It’s wonderful.” The community is home to a great group of members, she says, and from the chef and servers to the caregivers, everyone is dedicated to creating a true community.

With weekly housekeeping service, housework isn’t the chore it once was. Transportation into town gives her the ability to explore. Even her plants are cared for and watered. Nadina enjoys dining in the lovely outdoor courtyard and attending the frequent musical performances and guest speaker sessions.

Nadina also recently joined The Watermark at Napa Valley’s Activity Committee. It’s a role she enjoys—it allows her to plan fun events, such as a casino night, excursions to local museums and more. She is particularly interested in planning a day trip to San Francisco. “It’s so important to get people outdoors,” she says.

Although Nadina was thinking retirement might be in her future, her foundation is keeping her busier than ever—meeting with the Napa Health Department to discuss ways they might stem the growing number of Napa drownings, searching for a winery partner to help raise funds to provide free swimming lessons to underprivileged children. “I thought I’d rest,” she says, “but there is still so much work that needs to be done.”