In 1980, with the May 4 groundbreaking atop the hill off Bell Road and the Nov. 30 cornerstone laying at the newly constructed Health Care Center off Luther Drive, Carroll Lutheran Village was soon to welcome its first residents just a few years after the dream was born for a continuing care retirement community in Carroll County.
The first “pioneers” were moving into their homes on Dec. 11, 1980, with some trepidation. After all, their cottages were plunked down on the edge of a cornfield that in December was little more than mud. They were indeed roughing it with no street lighting and a poorly surfaced road meandering in front of their homes that even the field mice had found to be inviting furnishings!
The “pioneers” were nevertheless determined despite all odds. Some water heaters didn’t work, but Frances Miller’s worked overtime leaking water all over her cottage. Although she was not living in her cottage yet, all her furnishings were there. In tears, she called Dr. Krug, who in those early days was often seen as maintenance man, and true to his giving self, he vacuumed up all the water and dried out the house.
That fledgling cornfield community grew and flourished. Ginny Troxell, who had to have her dining room window moved three inches to accommodate her antique three-corner cupboard, was baking cookies by Christmas and, along with Frances Miller, was taking them to welcome all their new neighbors. When Bob and Ellen Terry moved to their new home, they had fun riding their flexible flyer from behind the new Health Care Center over ground where the first apartment building would be erected down to St. Mark Way! (By the way, Ellen Terry passed away in 2020, having lived here 39 of the 40 years of Village history!) During 1980-1982, a total of 44 homes were built on the lower campus.
Building was moving quickly on the campus, with the dedication of the Health Care Center occurring in September 1981. The first patient, Sadie Folk, stepmother of Donald Folk of Lineboro, who gave $12,000 for an acre of ground, moved in on Sept. 10 at the age of 90. There she remained receiving the “best care” and the “best food” until age 96. Within a few days many other residents joined Sadie in the new nursing home setting that had been prepared by many of the cottage volunteers who washed windows, cleaned, set up beds, hung mirrors to ready the rooms.
Not all the residents of the Health Care Center were older folks. Robert “Robbie” Smith, who was seriously injured and paralyzed in an accident at a young age, was the youngest resident and spent many years there. And then there were those who came to Carroll Lutheran Village because it is a continuing care community where they could move initially into a residential home but after experiencing debilitating health issues could receive the care of the nursing home setting. Herbert and Marie Gorgas represented just such a couple. Having moved to a cottage in August 1981 from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Marie suffered several strokes that meant that she spent six years in the Health Care Center. But Herb was able to visit her every day and even have dinner with her, much to his delight.
Another former cottager, Dr. George Baumgardner, “practiced” his doctoring in the Health Care Center when senility robbed him of his ability to live independently. Audrey Byrd, longtime nursing employee, would give him a stethoscope to wear and a blank chart to fill out from behind the nurse’s desk to help him relive his past where he made a significant contribution.
Meanwhile, the Village kept growing. Even though the Rev. Bollinger resigned his position at the Village effective Dec. 31, 1981, Rev. Lyle Peters, from Des Moines, Iowa, came onboard April 1, 1982, as executive director/chaplain and was installed in May 1982. Settlement was made for the purchase of an additional 29.2 acres of land northeast of Luther Drive on June 15, 1982. Although this land had also been owned by Dr. Griswold, Walter Weller carried the mortgage on the additional acreage.
Groundbreaking for the first apartment building, known as 201 St. Mark Way, was held on Nov. 15, 1982. This building was owned initially by a limited partnership between the contractor and the Village – Harold H. Hogg, the contractor, leasing the ground from Carroll Lutheran Village and Carroll Lutheran Village leasing the apartment building from the contractor – thus making 201 St. Mark Way a separate corporation until January 1988 when, under the leadership of Board President Jack Moores, the Village purchased the building outright from Hogg for $4.1 million.
By Sept. 15, 1983, the first residents, including Ethel Cook, who checked regularly on the progress of her new home, were moving into the 201 apartment building that housed 68 apartments and was dedicated just five days earlier. The Rev. Peters had Ethel’s television hooked up and working that first night. In fact, he and his wife, Marvel, even stayed in 201 for some time until more residents moved in to fill up the building. In those early days the executive director played many roles.
Preparing and serving weeknight dinner for all 68 apartments was quite challenging for the food service department. The food had to be prepared in the Health Care Center kitchen, trucked down the hill to 201, and served cafeteria style to the residents; then after dinner, the dishes and serving pans were trucked back up the hill to the Health Care Center to be washed. And this ritual had to happen even when there was no electricity or when there was deep snow to maneuver through. On one such evening in the snow the truck went flying as did the pans of food! Needless to say, dinner was late that evening!
By the spring of 1984, Mildred Harris was digging in the soil around 201 and indulging one of her passions, that of planting flowers. Planting flowers continues to be a passion of many residents moving to the Village.
Living to be 100+ is also a passion of some residents at the Village. A mere 89 when he moved from Baltimore to 201 in September 1983, Paul Englar eventually lived to be 106 after having received France’s Chevalier Award at 105 for his work in World War I here in the States. He and his wife were good salesmen since his daughter and son-in-law, Dorothy and Bill Scott, moved to the Village in 1991! But that must await the third installment of this abbreviated history.
Latest Carroll County Lifestyles
Hermine Saunders writes from Westminster. Her Prime column appears once a month in Life & Times.