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Daniel P. Rexford, former Erickson Retirement Communities marketing executive and lifelong fitness enthusiast, dies

Daniel P. Rexford played mixed doubles in many regional volleyball tournaments.
Daniel P. Rexford played mixed doubles in many regional volleyball tournaments. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Daniel P. Rexford, a former Erickson Retirement Communities marketing executive and lifelong fitness enthusiast who with his wife played in many regional volleyball tournaments, died of colon cancer July 28 at Gilchrist Center Howard County. The Ellicott City resident was 64.

“Dan was a competent and hardworking individual who had a special intuition when it came to getting into the hearts and minds of older people who were interested in eldercare,” said John Erickson, the semiretired founder and CEO of Erickson Retirement Communities.

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“He created one of the most effective marketing strategies ever seen in the eldercare industry,” Mr. Erickson said. “He was naturally likable and made people feel good. He had strong marketing skills and was really quite an accomplished and unique individual in that regard.”

Daniel Pratt Rexford, son of Frank R. Rexford, who worked in the federal Government Accountability Office, and his wife, Carol Rexford, a University of Maryland, Baltimore County secretary, was born in Catonsville. He was raised there and graduated in 1975 from Catonsville High School.

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He attended St. Mary’s College and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1982 from UMBC.

Before joining Erickson Retirement Communities in 1990, Mr. Rexford worked for RAI, a government contracting firm, where he wrote proposals. At the time he joined Erickson and took over the sales side of marketing, the company was regularly selling 10 apartments a month at its two communities in Baltimore, Charlestown Retirement Community and Oak Crest Village, and Henry Ford Village in Detroit, which was already twice the industry norm.

Within two years, Mr. Rexford had doubled those numbers, and as Erickson opened new communities in the Washington, New York and Boston suburbs, his sales team started selling 30, then 40, and even 50 life-care apartments per month at some locations, and during the 10 years he was with Erickson, the company’s annual revenues increased from $150 million to $1.2 billion.

From 1998 to 2007, Mr. Rexford served as chief marketing officer, and also worked for four months directly for the president of development on a range of projects. As executive vice president during that same time period, he continued to work closely with the executive vice president of marketing.

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“Dan always said the first step to successful marketing was making sure all of our existing residents feel like they made a great choice and have received good value,” Mike Serio, a marketing executive at Erickson, who worked under Mr. Rexford for eight years, wrote in an email. “But what Dan excelled at was the selling the lifestyle to new residents with a combination of steady television and newspaper advertising, our own monthly newspaper mailed to almost a million people, and monthly lunches so potential residents could come in and get a taste of what they will be moving into.”

Mr. Rexford also served as an important member of Erickson’s capital-raising team, where he prepared market analyses and pro formas. He also presented projects to lenders, investors and bondholders, and successfully raised $2 billion from hundreds of sources.

Other responsibilities included leading research, sales, in-house advertising, public affairs, finance and operations teams, as well as The Erickson Tribune, which is the company’s monthly newspaper.

Mr. Rexford is largely credited with developing and shaping the Erickson brand.

After leaving Erickson in 2008, he continued working in the retirement industry as vice president of Brightview Senior Living, a Baltimore-based company, and most recently in marketing with Love & Company in Frederick, which provides marketing services for 200 communities, until retiring in 2020.

He and his wife of 37 years, the former Susan Morgan, a personal trainer and kickbox instructor at Kinetic Systems in Columbia, built a home gym in their Ellicott City home where he worked out daily.

For years, Mr. Rexford, who stood 6 feet 3, and his wife, who was 6 feet, played mixed doubles in regional volleyball tournaments. He was also a familiar presence on the Patapsco River State Park bike trails and recently had been sprinting up and down the hills of CCBC Catonsville and running the ridges near his home.

Mr. Rexford was running the ridges during the last weekend in April when a blood clot led to the diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer, his wife said.

Michael Erickson, a retired Erickson Retirement Communities executive vice president, met the couple through volleyball, which eventually led to Mr. Rexford being hired by the company.

“And it led to the best hire I ever made,” Mr. Erickson said. “I was the weaker one on the court and Dan took over two-thirds of the court much like he took control of two-thirds executing the marketing methods. He was 100% dedicated and a good worker who worked relentlessly.”

Mr. Erickson described him as “extremely intelligent.”

“He also had an impressive dry wit, but when he made an observation, it was never cutting,” he said. “He was too much of a gentleman to say something bad about anyone.”

Mr. Rexford also enjoyed reading and conversing about Ernest Hemingway.

A celebration of life service is private.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Rexford is survived by a son, Pratt Rexford of Ellicott City; a daughter, Caroline Rexford of Woodstock; his mother, Carol Rexford of Catonsville; and a brother, David Rexford of Katy, Texas.

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