Willow Brook Christian Communities’ longest serving employee, Lucretia (Lu) Wellman, recently retired from the organization after 46 years of service.
Hired as an office manager in 1974, Wellman was Willow Brook’s first employee. At the time, Willow Brook was a 25-bed nursing home in Worthington, and it was run by volunteers.
Larry Harris, chief executive officer at Willow Brook, said, “Lu started six months before I did and almost single handedly kept things running during those early days. She played a big role in our history, and we are so grateful for her service.”
Over the years, Wellman worked as an office manager and then a billing specialist in the accounting department. She witnessed Willow Brook’s expansion from a handful of employees to 500 staff members, and from one campus to three, including two in Delaware. She also saw services grow to include independent living, assisted living, short-term rehab and more.
“I never dreamed our community would grow so much, but I’m happy it did,” Wellman said.
Wellman was honored at a “clap out” retirement party June 12, when employees and residents at all three campuses gathered outside to applaud her when she visited each facility.
“I’ve known so many of these people for years, and to see them all waving and clapping, and holding up signs was very touching,” Wellman said.
Reflecting on her work, Wellman said, “I have looked at my job at Willow Brook as a ministry of serving others. It has been a joy to see the growth from a 25-bed facility to three beautiful campuses. The best part has been meeting so many wonderful people over the years — residents, residents’ families, and employees who have enriched my life. They have become family.”
Wellman’s husband, George, served as a Willow Brook board member for about 25 years until his death in 2012. Fortunately, Wellman will remain a familiar face at Willow Brook since she resides in a home at Willow Brook Christian Village in Delaware.
Erin MacLellan is the director of community relations at Willow Brook Christian Communities.