As Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS) celebrates our 64th year of ministry to older adults, we reflect on our “joy”ful beginnings. Jean Ljunkull shares her early memories of Ms. Lillias Joy, the Sunday school teacher whose gift of land laid the foundation for the first Presbyterian Home in 1955.
Jean Ljunkull lives at Waverly Gardens in North Oaks, MN and has many fond memories of Ms. Lillias Joy, The Rev. Dr. Irving West, and the House of Hope Presbyterian Church.
In 1942, Jean began attending Sunday school at House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. Her teacher was Lillias Joy, “Ms. Joy was one of the most caring people; she was one of a kind.” said Jean. She also remembers her pastor, Dr. Irving West: “[He] had a dream of creating a haven for folks as they aged.” She even remembers the grassroots fundraising efforts for the first Presbyterian Home, “Dr. West talked about it to the congregation at House of Hope Presbyterian Church and among them was Ms. Lillias Joy. Ms. Joy had some property on Lake Johanna and she donated it to Dr. West for the first Presbyterian Home.”
Construction began in 1954 on Lake Johanna’s western shore in Arden Hills, MN and on June 15, 1955, the humble structure opened its doors to thirty retired ministers, missionaries and widowed wives of clergy. Today it has grown into the flourishing Johanna Shores community.
These well preserved memories remind us of our humble beginnings as a faith-based, nonprofit organization and the joyful energy that radiated from the early founders. “Look at Presbyterian Homes now! Wouldn’t Dr. West be pleased with the way things have grown and the people that are cared for under the blanket of Presbyterian Homes” said Jean.
What began as a joyful gift to build the first Presbyterian Home has grown into the beautiful, growing ministry we are today with 46 PHS-affiliated senior living communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, and Optage® home and community services and our own development and design teams who work all over the country to support other faith-based providers.