Helping Tucson Seniors Thrive for 25 Yearsby Hot Off The Press (Release) on Nov. 19, 2012, under Press Releases
A 25th anniversary celebration will be held starting at 2:00 p.m. on November 30 at The Fountains at La Cholla, 2001 W. Rudasill Rd. Residents Hannah Bendelius, Vendla Walton, Lee DeYonghe and Walter Zuberbuhler will be recognized for having lived at the northwest Tucson retirement community longer than anyone else – one since day one.
Bendelius remembers her move-in day at The Fountains at La Cholla like it was yesterday, even though it happened 25 years ago this December 1. She is the last of an excited group of “pioneers” who were first to call The Fountains home.
DeYonghe and Walton have each lived at The Fountains for 20 years and Zuberbuhler moved in 17 years ago. They all agree that The Fountains’ active lifestyle has helped them stay happy, healthy, fit and socially connected, all recognized factors in longevity.
A poster child for healthy aging, Walton is thriving at 103. She is a regular participant in fitness classes and for her most recent birthday, The Fountains held a book signing in honor of her new book. It tells the story of her family as they moved from Illinois to the “wild west” of Arizona in the 1920s.
Also on hand for the anniversary celebration will be multiple members of the development and management team who toiled for years to open The Fountains on December 1, 1987. Some of the early challenges included winning approval for a special use permit needed from Pima County to develop a seniors’ housing project on a 20-acre piece of desert located at La Cholla Blvd. and Rudasill Rd.
“Seniors’ housing was such a novelty at the time. Most people really didn’t understand the concept. We had to erase the image of a nursing home from their minds and paint the picture of a community where people would choose to live and thrive with great food, interesting programs, outstanding services and, of course, fun neighbors,” recalls June Hussey, The Fountains’ original director of marketing and sales and currently a public relations manager for Watermark Retirement Communities.
“We also had to do a lot of community education before we could even break ground,” Hussey said. “I distinctly remember one neighborhood opponent voicing public outrage in the Tucson Citizen over the fact that residents would have their own kitchens. He didn’t think our housing concept deserved to be realized on the site unless residents were being spoon fed. Fortunately, we won that battle. We’ve come a long way in 25 years as an industry – and as a culture that embraces healthy, active aging.”
Industry progress can be measured not only by the growth of the seniors’ housing market nationwide, but also by the innovations heralded by communities like The Fountains,including the advent of assisted living, memory care and stimulating classes designed to keep independent seniors active in body and mind.
The early success of The Fountains at La Cholla served as a springboard for the growth of The Fountains into a national brand. That portfolio is managed today by the same core group of people who nurtured its success, Tucson-grown Watermark Retirement Communities (originally Fountains Retirement Communities). The privately owned company, with offices at 2020 W. Rudasill Rd., operates a total of 31 communities along with a number of home health care agencies from coast to coast. Watermark is considered one of the 25 top seniors housing owner/operators in the nation by the American Seniors Housing Association.
The 25th anniversary open house will showcase the history of The Fountains and offer tours of the campus to the public on November 30 starting at 2:00 p.m. To attend, please call 797-2001.