(Columbus) — Nearly 200 people joined United Church Homes in remembering and celebrating the spirit of Ruth Frost Parker — a Sandusky resident whose vision, leadership, and philanthropy helped create the senior living residence of Parkvue Community in Sandusky — by attending a Symposium entitled, A Generation Ahead: Transforming the Way We Age, held Friday, November 11, in Columbus, Ohio.
This inaugural, annual Symposium introduced the newly created Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, an initiative started by United Church Homes as a lasting tribute to Mrs. Parker to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and innovation in the fields of senior services, higher education, research, and advocacy. Mrs. Parker is recognized as the most generous benefactor of United Church Homes and served on its Board of Directors for a decade. She passed away in February 2015 at the age of 92.
Award-winning journalist and former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden served as the Symposium’s keynote presenter, and her address on the changing landscape of aging prompted those in attendance to reimagine the impact they can have on others, made possible by the additional 25-30 years of life that modern medicine and healthier lifestyles have given us.
Experts on aging from The Ohio State University, the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami (Ohio) University, and LeadingAge Ohio, a leading trade association for senior care providers, participated in a panel discussion with Ms. Lunden.
Watch the Video
The day also featured the premiere of a video chronicling the life and impact of Mrs. Parker, whose philanthropic interests also supported a wide range of entities in the Sandusky and Erie County community. In addition to her role in establishing Parkvue Community, Mrs. Parker served on the Board of Directors of the Renovation of Downtown Sandusky Waterfront, Firelands Regional Medical Center, the State Theatre Restoration, the College of Wooster, and the Bowling Green State University Foundation. She quietly served Erie County residents in various capacities involving issues such as alcohol addiction, education, volunteerism, historic preservation, and community beautification.
Her legacy at Parkvue continued after her death, including the renovation of its therapy department and activities area in 2015, and the construction of a new state-of-the-art aquatic center at Parkvue Place earlier this year. Parker funds are currently supporting renovations to the Parkvue dementia and long-term care areas, as well as laying the groundwork for future campus expansion.
The Symposium’s agenda also included the presentation of the Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging lifetime achievement award to Ms. Lunden. The Family of Ruth Frost Parker — as represented by her three children and their spouses: Jim and Julia Parker, John and Val Parker, and Allison Van Hartdsveldt — supported this event by attending the Symposium and by serving as founding funders of the Center.
“Ruth Frost Parker was a woman of great insight and resolve,” said Rev. Kenneth Daniel, president and CEO of United Church Homes. “She saw the needs of those around her and acted to ensure that ideas became reality. People’s lives continue to be enriched thanks to her transformative philanthropic spirit. It was only fitting to name this Center for Abundant Aging to honor this woman whose vision and generosity helped to inspire and impact so many.”
United Church Homes is a nonprofit, faith-based organization that provides housing and healthcare to seniors, serving 4,000 residents in 69 communities in 14 states and two Native American nations.