Epworth Villa History


Epworth Villa History
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Epworth History told by Paul Woolsey Board Member 1990 -1993


A vague but persistent dream of a United Methodist Retirement Facility in Central Oklahoma had been alive for many years, sometimes surfacing, sometimes being submerged by other missional priorities.

In the third year of his tenure (1983) Bishop John Wesley Hardt, a man of action rather than dreams, asked Dr. Charles Wells, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries, and Dr. Elwyn Thurston, Director of the United Methodist Foundation, to explore possibilities of including such a retirement facility in the ministry of The Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Drawing upon the leadership of The Conference Board of Health and Welfare, a Task Force was formed to address Bishop Hardt's assignment. Reverend Richard Hedger, Reverend Les Thompson, Reverend Donald Horton and Mrs. Ann Shreve Joined Dr. Wells and Dr. Thurston in the task. They gathered data from Annual Conferences which offered such ministry, visited retirement facilities already in operation, sought the counsel of Mr. Donovan Gardner, consultant for the church's General Board of Health and Welfare, and surveyed United Methodist Congregations in Oklahoma to ascertain the need for an interest in such ministry.

Two years later the Task Force reported that the need and interest in said ministry was significant and petitioned the 1985 session of The Annual Conference to appoint a Development Committee to work toward the establishment of an appropriate retirement facility in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The petition was granted and the Development Committee included: Dr. Charles Wells, Dr. Elwyn Thurston. Reverend Les Thompson, Mr. Elliott Fenton, The Superintendents of the North and South Oklahoma City Districts, Dr. Lester Meyer and Dr. Charles Richardson, one lay person from each of the Oklahoma City Districts, Mr. Rea Chamberlain and Mr. Kenyon Morgan and Reverend Richard Hedger, Chairman of the Conference Board of Health and Welfare.

Being advised by local developers that such a project could be funded by advance payments from potential residents, the Development Committee sought counsel from consulting firms experienced in similar projects. From those contacts the Committee chose Retirement Centers of America, Inc., (RCAI) to serve as consultant and asked the 1986 session of The Annual Conference for authorization to proceed with a feasibility study at no cost to the Annual Conference. The Conference approved the general concept for the retirement community and the engagement of RCAI to do further research and prepare a specific proposal for the project.

RCAI was engaged as a consultant with the understanding that any fees would be paid only upon the completion of successful financial arrangements for the project. Over a period of three months the firm conducted a feasibility study including a statewide survey of older members of United Methodist Churches. Over 2,200 persons responded to the survey-. RCAI's report to the Development Committee stated:

1. A Life-Care Facility is feasible in the Oklahoma City area.

2. It should be located within a 10-mile radius of the May/N. W. 63rd intersection.

3. It should be funded by the residents.

4. It should include graduated levels of care; Independent Living, Assisted Living, Intermediate and Skilled Nursing Care.

5. It should include 240 units with a 60-bed Nursing Center.

6. The cost would be approximately $30,000,000 to be financed by Tax¬Exempt Bonds.

The Development Committee then incorporated a management team known as: The Central Oklahoma United Methodist Retirement Facility.. Inc.. (12-24-86).

The report of the feasibility study, was made to the 1987 session of The Annual Conference which approved the incorporation of The Central Oklahoma United Methodist Retirement Facility, Inc., adopted the by-laws of the corporation and elected a Board of Directors to succeed the Development Committee. The Board of Directors included:

Class of 1988: Rea Chamberlain, Joe Jackson and Lester Meyer

Class of 1989: Charles Richardson, Charles Wells and Lillie Faye Renegar

Class of 1990: Elliott Fenton, Claire Glenn and Elwyn Thurston

Ex Officio: Richard Hedger, Chairman Conference Board of Health and Welfare.

With the election of the Board of Directors, the full development team was in place including: Ernst and Whinney as financial consultants; Ziegler Securities and Leo Oppenheim and Co., as bond underwriters; Milliman and Robertson as actuarial consultants, Liberty Bank as Trustee; and RCAI as General Development Consultant.

The proposed and now seemingly assured project was named Epworth Villa, using a term familiar to United Methodists and reminiscent of Epworth, England, birthplace of Methodism's founder, John Wesley. Susanna Wesley Center (the health center) at Epworth Villa was named for John Wesley's mother.

Steps in the development of Epworth Villa now began to move at an accelerated pace.

Having recently sold site property to the new Quail Springs United Methodist Church, Mr. W. P. Atkinson became interested in Epworth Villa offering to sell a thirty-acre tract at 150th and North Pennsylvania for the retirement facility. Mr. Atkinson commissioned an artist's rendering strongly suggesting the Williamsburg architectural style for the project and agreed to hold the site until financing could be arranged for its purchase.

Obtaining a Certificate of Need for Susanna Wesley Center was a major obstacle. The Oklahoma Health Planning Commission contended that there was no need for additional nursing beds in the Oklahoma City area. A "Priority Plus" campaign was conducted enabling potential residents to make $500 deposits indicating their intention to apply for residence in the proposed facility. The number of responses to that campaign together with other expressions of interest from constituents all over the State persuaded the Health Planning Commission to approve the required Certificate of Need. Kirk Gulledge of RCAI found Senators Ben Brown and Ed Long to be especially helpful with the legislation which enabled that process.

Rea Chamberlain, Board Treasurer, was instrumental in obtaining the 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit tax status, and Elliott Fenton served as our "in house" legal advisor.

After consideration of other candidates, the Board accepted the resignation of Architect, Kenyon Morgan, in order that his firm, Architectural Design Group, could be engaged for architectural services.

In April, 1988 a Marketing office staffed by RCAI personnel was opened at Memorial Road and Fairhill Avenue and within a year 60% (the qualifying number) of the proposed units had been presold.

In the meantime, Mr. Ron Yordi, President of Yordi Construction Company, had been retained as General Building Contractor for the project with the understanding that not only would he not receive any payment until financing had been arranged, but that he would underwrite architectural expenses up to $283,000 to enable the earliest possible construction. For the next three years the Board functioned as both Board of Directors and Building Committee. Bill Wells, retired Industrial Engineer, resigned from the Board of Directors to become the Board's representative as Construction Coordinator, a salaried position. April 23, 1989 was a red-letter day when representatives of the financial consultants, bond underwriters, the trustee bank, RCAI and their legal representatives met with board members in the office suite of Terry Hawkins, attorney for The Central Oklahoma United Methodist Retirement Facility, Inc. (Epworth Villa). There, final financial arrangements for the $28.9 million project were completed.

A Groundbreaking Ceremony was conducted on May 11, 1989 with Bishop Dan E. Solomon officiating, and construction began the following day.

In late 1989 a contract was signed with Arthur Shuster, Inc. for interior decorating, and Lillie Faye Renegar voluntarily served as the Board's representative in design and decoration. The Arthur Shuster company won an International Award for its Interior Design at Epworth Villa.

In January, 1990 Reverend Joe White was retained as Executive Administrator and with Sherman Huff and Linda Baustert began to build an exceptionally well-qualified management team. In June of that year Susanna Wesley Center, the Health Care Facility, was opened for residents and in August the Residential Facility received its first residents.

In 1991 the Board of Directors, with Leslie Conner, Jr. as arbitrator, terminated its contract with RCAI, used Walker Management Services for a time, then assumed full management responsibility, with consultant assistance by invitation.

By September, 1992, 100% of the residential units had been sold. By March, 1993, 93% of the units were occupied, and $10,000,000 (one-third) of the bonded indebtedness had been paid off.

Those who dreamed, worked, and resisted compromise are to be congratulated.

MEMBERS - CENTRAL OKLAHOMA RETIREMENT FACILITY TASK FORCE 1983-1985 Charles Wells, Les Thompson, Elwyn Thurston, Don Horton, Richard Hedger, Ann Shreve, MEMBERS - CENTRAL OKLAHOMA RETIREMENT FACILITY DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE 1985-1986 Elwyn Thurston, Elliott Fenton, Charles Wells, Les Thompson, Lester Meyer, Supt. North Oklahoma City Dist. Charles Richardson, Supt. South Oklahoma City Dist. Rea Chamberlain, South Oklahoma City District Rep. Kenyon Morgan, North Oklahoma City District Rep. Richard Hedger, Ch. Conference of Health & Welfare

BOARD OF DIRECTORS EPWORTH VILLA RETIREMENT COMMUNITY 1986 - (9 members from 1986-1990) (15 members beginning 1990) Margaret Ball 1993¬ Jerry Bernardy 1993¬ Rea Chamberlain 1986¬ Leslie Conner, Jr. 1989¬ Skoshi Farr 1991 - Elliott Fenton 1986 - Loyce Funnell 1990 - 1991 Claire Glenn 1986-1991 Bob Hamilton 1993¬ Wm. R. "Bill" Henry 1993¬ Oscar Heuser 1993¬ Joe Jackson 1986-1987 Lester Meyer 1986- 1993 Larry Miles 1990 - 1992 Kenyon Morgan 1986 - 1987 Norman Neaves 1989- 1993 Lucille Patton 1991¬ Howard Plowman 1990¬ Don Powers 1990- 1993 Lillie Faye Renegar 1986¬ Charles Richardson 1986-1988 David Severe 1990¬ El n Thurston 1986¬ David Thomas 1991 - 1993 Larry Varvel 1993¬ Bill Wells 1988-1989 Charles Wells 1986- 1993 Paul Woolsey 1990- 1993


Richard Hedger 1986-1988 Ch. Conference Board of Health & Welfare Larry Varvel 1992-1993 Pastor, Quail Springs United Methodist Church EPISCOPAL LEADERSHIP

Bishop John Wesley Hardt 1983-1988 Bishop Dan E. Solomon 1988¬ MEMBERS - EPWORTH VILLA MARKETING DEPARTMENT STAFF 1988-1993 Willard Graley, Carol Rand, Irv Glos, Hank Sookne, Kathy Logsdon and Diana Garcia

Mary Schuknecht, Mary Jo Karr-Ake Nelda Alkadhimi, Becky Sellers and Trudy Harrelson


*Indicates original Management Team Members, beginning 1990

Bold type indicates members of current Management Team, 1993

*Joe H. White, Hank Sookne, *Linda Inks, Patti Riley, *Valerie Perry, *Sherman Huff, Anne White, *Linda Baustert, Mary Jo Puttroff, Nelda Alkadhimi, Sandra Thayer, *Randy Fresonke, Pam Meeks, *Carol Rand, Kim Horsman, *Daree Hendrus and Nancy Lepak


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