Al Schartner, CEO 1970 to 1996
As the second CEO in the organization’s history, Al Schartner assumed the mantle of leadership of an organization which consisted of 10 small personal care facilities, with staff of 40 and an operating budget of $300,000. His vision of an organization offering a continuum of services from independent living to skilled nursing care transformed the organization in just a few short years, expanding the organization’s geography from central Pennsylvania into a 5 state area. At the time of his retirement in 1996, the organization had grown to 18 locations with a staff of 1,800 and an operating budget of $28,000,000.
Al summarized his service in this way: “It is said that ‘the road to success is always under construction.’ And so it has been at Presbyterian Homes. During my 30+ years with the organization I have happily traveled down many roads, in many capacities, with a variety of objectives – but always with a sense of mission – and an unusually keen sense of pride in the work we were doing. The vision and commitment of this organization's founders in the 1920's has been fulfilled through the years in the ever growing and varied services provided for seniors by PHI - now Presbyterian Senior Living. The Mission Statement of Presbyterian Senior Living closes with the phrase "...contribute to the wholeness of body, mind and spirit". It was this need and goal which motivated and energized all of us, board members and staff alike, during the years I was privileged to serve the organization - 1964 to 1996.
The culture of Presbyterian Senior Living still bears Al’s fingerprints. The openness and inclusion of his leadership style, commitment to resident centered care and sense of optimism about the future of senior services continues to influence the organization’s work today.
David Wolff, Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Presbyterian Senior Living
Some of David Wolff’s childhood memories involve accompanying his mother on her frequent visits to the Easton Home. As a board member of the Easton Home, Cecile Wolff was deeply involved in the care of seniors at this small, community-based not-for-profit personal care facility in their home town.
In 1989, her husband Alhert would become chairman of the board of Presbyterian Homes, and 1993, the Easton Home would become a part of the Presbyterian Homes family. Later, Alhert would champion the beginning of a new Presbyterian retirement community in the Lehigh Valley next to First Presbyterian Church in Bethlehem, Kirkland Village.
David also has fond memories of visiting his grandparents as residents of Westminster Village in Allentown in their later years. David’s grandmother was struggling with dementia, and his grandfather was unable to care for her at home. Following his grandmother’s death, his grandfather, George Woodring spent many happy years living in the apartments at Westminster Village, enjoying the company of a group of men, mostly Lehigh and Lafayette graduates, playing cards and telling stories. George’s fishing stories are part of the history and folklore of Westminster Village.
In 2000, David followed in his father’s footsteps, beginning his service on the board of PHI, serving as Chairman of the organization from 2008 to 2009. His parents had become residents of Kirkland Village in Bethlehem, where his father died in 2001. Cecile Wolff, who still resides at Kirkland Village, is proud of David’s service to Presbyterian Senior Living.
For David, his connection to Presbyterian Senior Living is all about relationships. He says, “For me to lead the same board that my father had served twenty years ago was amazing and quite an honor. Like my father, I have loved my board involvement with the organization and truly feel that it has been the best board experience of my life. The sense of compassion for others and the joy of caring continues to flow easily from all of the people associated with this organization. I am honored to be part of such a great organization.”
As the child of a board member, family member, and as a board member and chairman of the board, David’s personal history and memories are filled with people who have shaped and benefitted from the ministry of Presbyterian Senior Living.
I am very proud to say this lady was my mother, Mary Jane Rhule, and this is why we felt this garden fund is fitting to honor her.
Darlene Rhule, Daughter of Mary Jane Rhule
For the last 3 years, our facility, Presbyterian Village of Hollidaysburg, had the honor of having an extraordinary resident. From the moment of arrival, this resident made friends with staff members from all departments, visitors, and residents and family members. She provided help to everyone from staff to residents and some families.
She was a retired nurse and her caring for people never stopped. At a Care Plan meeting, one time it was brought up she should stop helping so much. Well, you can forget that we found a way to care plan her helping.
She did everything from providing dry shoes and socks to a staff member that got caught in the rain on her way to work to helping those stuck in wheelchairs. She provided many of the end-of-life residents with silent prayer and a reassuring hand to hold. Her arthritic hands of many years of hard work were still soft, and her nails always a pretty pink. This is where she did her best work.
In the late spring, she would start concerning herself with the flowers for our beautiful porches and one garden. She would go to the greenhouses and help pick the prettiest flowers she could find. This always included a trip to The Meadows for her favorite Butter Pecan ice cream. When the flowers arrived, her work began. Donned with her garden gloves; watering can; and a little Miracle Grow, her green thumbs were set. Our wonderful Maintenance Department was given “orders” to always have her watering bucket full with her Miracle Grow…. “Oh, you didn’t mess with her buckets.” Her face always had a smile that was contagious with her wit and sense of humor to go with it.
When fall came and flowers faded, she moved on to the next project. It was nothing to find her “hosting” her new found friends along with her Famous Goose for a Penn State or Steelers football game. All staff from the Executive Director down knew they were welcome. Her goose had clothes for all occasions and became a part of the facility – always ready for Penn State and Steelers games.
More suddenly then we thought, this lady became increasingly weaker and in more pain. She went from volunteering to ill end-of-life patients to being one herself. The week preceding her death found family on a 24 hour a day vigil, to a never ending stream of staff providing hugs to sustain the family and providing everything a family could need or want during a time like this. You see, during the 3 years she was providing so much for everyone else, she was fighting deadly breast cancer. She had gone through many rounds of chemo that caused so many ill side effects, along with split fingers and feet and radiation that made her weak. This is more pain than we could have endured, but never a complaint. Always strong-willed and positive to beat this deadly monster.
When it came time, this great lady that was known as “mother” to not only her 6 children but all staff, PEACE once again was hers.