On April 19, Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America (PMMA) will celebrate its 70th anniversary. Our first very first community opened in Newton, Kan., on April 19, 1949, nearly two years after ninety-year-old Alice Kalb of El Dorado, Kan., asked the United Presbyterian Synod if it would consider opening a home for the aged. A small exploratory committee formed to look at the idea and determined it had merit.
To raise funds for the Newton effort, a dedicated offering throughout the synod took place on Mother’s Day in 1948. The practice of raising funds for Presbyterian Manors on Mother’s Day continues today. The first resident, Mrs. Frances Belle Townsend of Smith Center, Kan., moved into the first Presbyterian home for the aged on April 19. Alice Kalb moved in on April 21, and lived there until her death in 1951.
When it came time to name this new establishment, the committee did not choose to name it the Presbyterian Home for the Aged. Instead, based on the separate suggestions of two women—Mrs. Mary Page of Topeka and Grace Derby of Manhattan, it was named Newton Presbyterian Manor. Grace later lived at Presbyterian Manor in Newton until her death in 1966.
Alice’s dream has turned into a network of 17 senior living communities across Kansas and Missouri with more than 2,400 residents, and the mission of the organization remains true to its core: to provide quality senior services guided by Christian values. PMMA has plans to extend its mission into Colorado with the proposed development of Aberdeen Ridge in Colorado Springs.