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Anne & John Elder



Most of us know John as the former president of KORA and Anne as chair of the program committee, or just as great, dedicated people, but their connection with Kendal at Oberlin goes back to “before dirt.” John was on the first board, then called the Oberlin Retirement Community, while he served as pastor of the First Church in Oberlin (United Church of Christ). Although ORC’s committee meetings were held in the Heisers’ home, First Church offered the space for the public informational meetings.


As the planners visited various CCRC’s, they were most impressed by Kendal at Longwood/Crosslands near Philadelphia. What stood out was how their care centers were hardly distinguishable from the independent living areas. ORC decided to ask the Kendal organization to help build a similar community in Oberlin. A challenge was getting the license for nursing care beds. John served on the committee that, after much paper-work and travel to Columbus, succeeded in obtaining “credits” from a nursing home in town that was closing. In this effort as in many other aspects of building Kendal, Dave Clark was key.


In addition to traveling to promote Kendal at Oberlin, John chaired the Admissions Committee. Together with Jean Wright, he interviewed prospective residents, who were eager for Kendal to open. A few initially hesitated because they wanted their money to go to their children, but later realized that their children were much happier with the security of their parents coming here


The Elders were not yet ready to retire at that time, and John went on to earn an advanced degree in counseling and psychotherapy, and they moved near Ithaca, NY. They interviewed at nearby Kendal at Ithaca, but Kendal at Oberlin’s advantages far outweighed Ithaca’s for their interests, especially being able to bike to the campus and downtown.


They moved here from the DC area in 2007 and have been deeply engaged in the community ever since. Anne chairs KORA’s volunteer and program committees, and John serves on the Kendal board’s philanthropy and master planning committees and co-chairs KORA’s environmental concerns committee. He notes that although geothermal technology was rejected in Kendal’s original plans, it is now being planned for the “classic” cottage renovations. John and Anne are excited to be living in a community with the goal of becoming one of America’s first climate-positive cities.


John said that Kendal functions very much as the early planners had hoped – both the physical layout, with the care center and early childhood learning center centrally located, and the top-quality staff and services. The most difficult challenges are in nursing, due to constantly changing state and federal regulations. When asked if Kendal meets the planners’ expectations, he replies, “Yes, and more!” The “and more” is the ever-growing importance of Kendal residents in Oberlin College and Conservatory functions, as well as their prominent role in the life of the City.


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