More than fifty years ago, there was a concern about the viability of Hoffman Memorial Hospital. A broad section of community members formed a pilot committee, options were explored, surveys were taken, research was done, experts were consulted, and a myriad of other things that ultimately created Sandstone Heights Nursing Home.

You may have noticed that we’ve been publishing articles about the history of Sandstone Heights in the newspaper in celebration of our 50th anniversary, and you can also read them here. Come back and check for new stories!

Sandstone Heights. Where did it start? Who was responsible?

By Howard Hodgson | September 28, 2022

Some time in 1968, Tuffy (Lawrence) Burke mentioned to me that the old Burke Hotel was to be sold. He thought that perhaps someone could make a “rest home” out of it and it would be a companion building to the Hoffman Memorial Hospital. I discussed the idea with others and learned that the Hospital was experiencing difficulties meeting the State standards to continue to operate. This gave a degree of urgency to the situation.

On January 22, 1969, at a quarterly meeting of the Congregational Church, I presented an idea of a community committee to investigate the possibility of using the old Hotel for an “old folks home”. This committee was to be comprised of three from each of the three churches in Little River. A motion was made and passed to proceed with the inquiry. The three from the Congregational Church were Gene Deeds, Lessee Schmidt and Howard Hodgson. Those from the Catholic Church were Ralph Schulte, Jerry Konen and Marjorie Tidwell. From the Methodist Church were Vernon Kruse, Bud Olander and Mildred Strohm.

These nine community leaders met and studied the old Hotel. Quickly we learned that it would not lend itself to a retirement home, but one was still urgently needed to accommodate the fifteen or so hospital patients who would be without care facilities should the Hospital fail to get temporary extensions of their license to operate.

The rest home committee began to look elsewhere for a location and to seek ways to finance a suitable structure. Stock certificates were sold in the community to the extent of about 2,600, with which we purchased the present site from Stanley Porter for $1,700.

Through many months and years of meetings with Gene Deeds as our leader, we sought ways to build. Bob Deeds, a bond attorney of Wichita and a Little River native, was contacted. He sought to obtain a loan or grant from H.U.D. After about a year of futile efforts, he concluded that our best method would be to form a Hospital District that would have taxing powers and could sell bonds for the construction of a facility. We did this with his guidance and the Rice County Hospital District No. 2, covering the eastern third of Rice County, was formed by an overwhelming majority. For the first official board, we sought to combine some of the nine members of the original rest home committee with some of the old Hospital board. Gene Deeds, Lessee Schmidt and Howard Hodgson were elected from the committee and Bruce Buchanan and Charlie Wilson were elected from the Hospital board. This helped to smooth the transition from the old hospital to the new.

$470,000.00 worth of bonds were sold for 4.5, 4.75, 5, 5.1 and 5.2% to mature twice a year until 1992. Bonnam and Griffith were hired as architects and Myers Construction Company began work in the fall of 1971. Jerry Jannette was hired as administrator and an open house was held in September, 1972. Nineteen patients were transferred from the Hospital in October, 1972.

The total cost was $370,000.00.

Sandstone Heights? A community contest was conducted to help determine a suitable name for the facility. Probably a hundred names were suggested and submitted, and one of my suggestions, “Sandstone Heights”, was selected at one of the few meetings that I was unable to attend. Sandstone Heights seemed especially suitable since we have four huge sandstone pillars at the entrance and our facility sits near the peak of the hill.

The rest of the story can be found in the minutes; how Jerry Jannette was replaced with Shirley Granger in 1976. How each of the original dedicated board members were replaced with new ones. Lessee Schmidt moved away and Vicky Wempe took her place. Charlie Wilson resigned and Wendall White took his place. Gene Deeds’ term ended and Frank Carlton took his place. Bruce Buchanan’s term ended and Mary Lou Carlson took his place. I am the last of the original board, the last of the original nine-membered research committee. I have served about ten years and am extremely proud of the results of our efforts to obtain a facility and staff to make Sandstone Heights the best in the country today. I have served as Treasurer from the beginning and have been able to pay off nineteen of the ninety four bonds.

Now we are about to embark on yet another construction project, one that will add dining room and activity space to our home. I am proud of what we have accomplished and I look to the future with great expectations.

Committee Formed for the Sandstone Heights 50th Anniversary Celebration

By Shari McCabe | October 5, 2022

Memories are the foundation of an accurate celebration of a long ago event. In order to appropriately recognize the upcoming 50th anniversary of Sandstone Heights, a special committee was formed to explore, honor and celebrate the fifty years that Sandstone has been in operation. The members of the 50th Anniversary Committee have connections to both the past and the present.

In 1970, at the urging of Charlie Wilson, who was serving as Chairman of the Hoffman Memorial Hospital Board of Directors (and was a Rice County native who moved from his home on the hill west of Little River to town in 1950), a group called “The Little River Rest Home Committee” was formed to solve the problem of the imminent closing of the hospital. The Hospital, which was built in 1916, was unable to meet fire safety rules, among other deficiencies, which created the issue of providing care for elderly friends and relatives in Little River, rather than sending them to nearby communities to live. This committee was made up of three members from each church as follows: Mildred Strohm, L.D. Olander, Vernon Kruse (Methodists); Ralph Schulte, Marjorie Tidwell, Jerry Konen (Catholics); Gene Deeds, Lessee Schmidt, Howard Hodgson (Congregationals).

This pilot committee became the new board for the hospital and the newly formed Hospital District No. 2. They worked to get approval on purchasing the land for the facility west of the high school; they worked with the state to guarantee adequate water supply and began the process of securing a name for the new building. Finally, on April 16th, 1971, residents of the new Hospital District No. 2 gathered to elect officers. The newly elected Board of Directors were Gene Deeds, Charlie Wilson, Burce Buchanan, Lessee Schmidt and Howard Hodgson.

Thus, we arrive at the committee for the 50th anniversary and celebrate its ties to the formation and continued success of Sandstone Heights; Honorary Chair Mrs. Jeanne Deeds (wife of first Board President Gene Deeds), Vice Chair Kendall Hodgson (son of Board Member Howard Hodgson), Secretary Vicky Wempe (Board Member elected in 1972 upon the retirement of Lessee Schmidt), Treasurer Ed Case (who served as a Board Member from 1983 to 1995) and Mary Konen (current Board Member). Staff members on the committee are Administrator Trey Look, Dietary Manager Linda Paris and Office Manager Terri McNellis.

The committee has planned several activities for the weekend of November 5th and 6th, 2o22 to honor our present and past employees and those folks who have served our Board over the years. Articles will follow in the next three weeks, reminiscent of Phyl-ings From Phyllis. Phyllis Whiteman was a treasured Activities Director for Sandstone and kept our community up to date on the happenings and celebrations of our residents in our early years of operation. We will cover the building, land acquisitions, vignettes of the first residents to live int he new building and contributions of many Board members and employees over these past fifty years. Save some time on November 5th and 6th to celebrate with Sandstone!

Becoming Sandstone Heights

October 12, 2022

Continuing our view of building the foundation of Sandstone Heights, consider some of the physical aspects of the changes for the Hospital District No. 2 as the Committee and the Board of Directors orchestrated the transition from the Hoffman Memorial Hospital to the proposed new facility.

Mrs. Mildred Strohm, Treasurer of the pilot committee, initiated selling $25 certificates. The funds raised by this endeavor were deposited in Home State Bank and were designated for purchasing ground for the building of a new nursing home. This effort was successful. In 1970, more members of the pilot committee, specifically Ralph Schulte and Gene Deeds, approached Stan Porter with an offer to purchase four acres on the west edge of Little River. This property had been called the Sherrill Place. When Porter purchased the acreage, an older small house was standing on the property. Porter and his family had moved to a farmstead northeast of Little River by 1968 and the land was being farmed in 1970. These four acres were bound on the north by Ohio Street, on the south by the Castillo property and on the west by land owned by Paul Perry. The Perry property had a history of being used as a landing strip. Once the state of Kansas had approved both the site and the availability of the water resources, bids were sought from contractors by architects Bonham and Griffit. H. H. Meyer’s Construction of Kiowa was selected as the contractor. To their credit, this combination of architect/contractor had designed and constructed five other facilities in Kansas.

Now begins the design phase and search for a name for the facility. The first article in the series outlined the search and proposals for the new name; the end result being “Sandstone Heights” due to the location and the sandstone pillars at the entrance to the facility. During the design phase of the facility, Board Member Charlie Wilson (a strong booster to the nursing home) presented the possibility of using sandstone or limestone for the front of the facility. Wilson had his eye on a home building on the old Green farmstead three miles east of Little River, across the road from Phil and Jolene Ramage’s home.

The sandstone had been dressed with a hand tool and formed into blocks with the markings still visible today. Coralie Beaver confirmed the ownership of the Greens by locating a 1902 Plat book, which shows the land was owned by William Green. Not only were the four front pillars crafted from sandstone, but also the Sandstone flagpole in the front parking area. The pole was dedicated as “The Charlie Wilson Memorial Flagpole” on May 8th, 1977, with a flag flown in honor of Larry Cordell (father of past Board Member, Shane Cordell and grandfather of Sandstone Heights Administrator Trey Look’s wife, Cassie).

The foundation of our planners, leaders and the pillars of our building are bold reasons that our nursing home continues fifty years later to serve the members of our families, friends and the communities.

50 Years Ago, Residents Moved to Sandstone

By Shari McCabe | October 19, 2022

Announcement of an open house for the new nursing home in Little River was set for October 18th, 1972. The opening followed over two years of planning, along with assurances from state authorities that Hoffman Memorial Hospital could continue on a temporary basis, thus allowing the elderly residents to remain in Little River. The pilot committee and the community churches hosted the open house on Sunday, and on Monday, the first twenty nine residents began to move.

Records from the City Offices showed eight residents were moved from Hoffman Memorial on October 19th, 1972. True to the mission of the bond election, the following residents continued living in Little River.

Amelia Ankerholz was joined by her husband, Charlie. They had lived south of the old school lunchroom. Amelia and Charlie celebrated their 60th anniversary at Sandstone Heights.

Mrs. Amelia Christiansen, was mother to Mrs. Thelma Sporn, who served as City Clerk of Little River.

Lulu Alton Mills was aunt to Lee Alton, Madge Rush and Ruth Perry.

Ray Buchanan, husband of Ulta, raised nine children, including Bruce and Guy of Little River. Ray had come to Rice County in a covered wagon and lived here for 86 years.

Bertha Smith, wife of Arthur Smith, and mother to Ruth Krebs.

John Donnelly moved from the hospital and was joined by his wife, Maggie. They had been country folks for many years before moving into town. They were married for fifty nine years. Dorothy Baniister was their daughter, and their granddaughter, Christa, was a special caregiver.

Vila Olander was a lifelong Little River resident, serving as a school teacher in her younger years. Both her brothers, Clarence and Bud, were faithful to Vila’s care.

Owen (Onie) O’Neill moved from the hospital, having lived in Windom, Kansas. Onie’s father had homesteaded three miles south of McPherson in 1872, hunting buffalo and working on the Santa Fe Railroad. Owen had four children, one being Virginia Cordell, a longtime Little River first grade school teacher. Onie was a grandfather to former board member, Shane Cordell, and great grandfather to Cassie Look, the wife of the current administrator of Sandstone Heights, Trey Look, who took the position fifty years later.

Ray Smith was moved on that Monday and had his wife, Clara as a caregiver. She also became an employee of Sandstone, serving as assistant in the kitchen. Ray and Clara lived on the farm just one mile south of Little River and had three children graduate from Little River High School.

In addition to the hospital transfers, Fred and Addie Crandall came from both their home and the Lyons hospital. They celebrated fifty two years of marriage before Addie died. Their very special caregiver was their daughter, Mary Frances Otto, who currently resides in the Sandstone Cottages.

Maggie Wernet came from the Hutchinson area. She was the aunt to three Little River fellows: Gerald, Wayne and LeRoy Fry.

Maude Smith was a part of downtown of Little River; she helped her husband George (Blake) run a bakery located north of the current Senior Center. Maude had been a widow for eleven years when she moved to Sandstone.

Bessie Stout was a longtime Little River resident, along with her daughter, Doris Brayton. Bessie’s father, Perry J. Barstow, had died in the Hoffman Memorial Hospital in 1938.

Fred and Vashti Hodgson moved to Sandstone from their townhome in Little River. Fred was a pioneer of Little River, having been born on the Hodgson farm just southeast of the town. He had graduated with an electrical engineer degree from the KSU school before it was KSU. He returned to Little River in 1908 to start the Hodgson Implement Store. His nephew, Ed Hodgson, currently lives on the Hodgson homestead.

George Durham, father of Thais Rutherford, came to Sandstone soon after the death of his wife, Alta.

Ella Knackstedt, grandmother to Karen McLean, came from the hospital in Hutchinson.

Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Holler, parents of Gary Holler, came from Windom.

Hazel Gustafson, who became family with the Sandstone staff.

Jessie Crandall, a native of Geneseo and resident of Little River since her marriage in 1926. She was the mother of Max and Norman Crandall of Little River. Norman and his wife, Nadine, are current residents of Sandstone.

Marie Malir and Martha Marburger came from Lyons.

Charles Ramsey and Joe Burnison came from Marquette.

Mrs. Mae (Etta Rempel) Schmidt, who was the mother of Dr. Alfred Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt provided services at Hoffman Memorial for many years.

Sandstone Heights has continued the tradition of caring for our families and friends for these past fifty years. Each resident of Hospital District No. 2 is thanked for the continuing support of our facility. A group picture of the listed residents was prepared by Don Young of the Young Historical Library and will be on display in the dining room. Find your friends and family when you come out for pie to celebrate the 50th anniversary on November 6th, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Activities and Memories at Sandstone Heights

By Shari McCabe | October 26, 2022

Many memories evolved from the recording of the Activity Directors (Phyllis Whiteman, Carolyn Lundstrom and Virginia Cordell) and Irma Folck during the 1977-1980 years. Most activities were held in the afternoon, except for a Monday morning Bible study and a coffee group in the dining room that met daily at 10:00. One morning of each week, Debi Kruse or Marilyn Myers read The Monitor and magazine excerpts and the men enjoyed a daily game of dominoes.

Weekly activities included a Monday discussion group with hosts Faye Ward and Joyce Hayes. Tuesday was bingo day, a favorite function. Volunteers from the Altar Society, Women’s Fellowship, UMW, American Legion Auxiliary, Friendly Neighbors Club and Country Pals and Pleasant View 4-H sponsored the games, and bananas were the best prize! On Wednesday, many local musicians entertained: Dorothy Bush and her guitar, Jeanne Deeds with an auto harp, Kermit Hayes on harmonica, JoNelle Hayes singing with an auto harp, Esther Myers playing piano and organ, Carolyn Lundstrom and Shari McCabe singing, as well as Evelyn Cobb and Marjorie Tidwell playing music during the supper hour. Thursday church services were led by the Andover Lutheran Church, Holy Trinity Catholics, United Church of Christ and the United Methodists. Several members of the congregations often attended as well. And finally, on Friday, Carolyn loaded up the “goodie cart” and trundled down the hall. The Cart included candy bars, snacks, crackers, cookies and LOTS of bananas! Additionally, Friday was Movie Day. Bernard O’Malley helped set up the projector and screen, and then helped with clean up afterwards. A small popcorn machine drew people to the dining room and all enjoyed.

Spare time activities involved so many folks. Some brought hobbies from home and others found new tasks. Varieties mentioned were: Jewell Ashwell embroidered quilt blocks and watered outside flowers; Ada Buffington made pencil holders and waste baskets out of rolled up magazine pages; Thelma Burke made latch hook afghans, pulled weeds and helped water shrubs and flowers; Esther Cash and Myrtle Johnson cared for the plants and made floral arrangements out of fresh and dried flowers; Irma Folck wrote many articles and published a story called “Flour Sacks and Shirt Tails for the Little Ones”, which appeared in a book published by Capper’s Press. Many of the ladies did hand-crafts. Elsie Gregory made baby afghans. Jennie Jennings made yarn poodles. May Lundstrom crocheted afghans, Georgia Richardson potholders and Inez Perry baby booties. Phoebe Thomas made latch hook rugs. Nellie Young created dolls, decorations and various items from empty dishwashing bottles. Lola Thompson was an avid reader with assistance from our community library and the South Central Kansas Library System. Henry Buckley, John Mitchell and Bernard O’Malley helped with delivering mail, properly displaying our flag and assistance with activities.

Residents loved when the volunteers washed, set and styled hair for the ladies. A whole crew of gals assisted: Evelyn Oswalt, Jeanne Deeds, Kay Cordell, Chris Buchanan, Rita Boyles, Sharon Lucas, Judy Kindle, Marie Nelson, Marcie Crandall, Trudy Schmidt, Charon Mills, Linda Munoz, Louise Thieszen, Teresa O’Neill, Twila Moore, Susan Petz and Sharon Armer. RJ Phillips barbered the men on a regular basis. The giggles rolled out of the beauty shop.

Carolyn published a newsletter, and a group including Esther Cash, Connie Russell, Jennie Jennings, Lucy Funk, Inez Perry and Elsie Gregory made short work of folding, stapling and sorting for mailing.

A Thank You to Our Community

By Shari McCabe

A theme that has risen up throughout the articles published during this 50th Anniversary celebration is that of community involvement. Volunteers were a mainstay for Sandstone. Continuing from the last week’s listing of activities, many folks beyond our employees were active in the daily lives of the residents. Gene and Jeanne Deeds came once a month to clean, oil and repair wheelchairs. High school students volunteered during the summer (Tony Peterson helped his dad with maintenance). During the blizzard of February, 1979, volunteers plowed snow to open the drive, shoveled sidewalks and brought in employees who couldn’t get through the deep drifts in their own roads and driveways. Family members cleaned the Quiet Room for special events, painted, planted flowers, ran errands, donated garden goods, brought home baked goodies and special birthday cakes.

The community of Little River has stayed true to the Sandstone Heights residents throughout these 50 years. An extra special service is that many individuals took time to serve on the Board of Directors. Those duties included directing the fiscal function of the operations, hiring a licensed administrator to oversee the 24 hour care of the facility, residents and staff, keeping the community informed as to the status of the bonds and licensure and garnering goodwill toward the ever-changing climate at Sandstone. There was a special recognition of everyone who has served on the Sandstone Board over the past 50 years on Sunday, November 6th during the Pie Social.

On Saturday, November 5th, a cookout was held to honor folks who have been employees over the past 50 years. It was a good opportunity for the dietary, maintenance, activities, social services and nursing personnel to tour the building and share their stories with one another about special occasions and the special people for whom they provided care.

The Anniversary celebration helps us all remember the traditions, community volunteers and dear residents and family members who have blessed the halls of Sandstone Heights for 50 years. We thank each and every one of you who has served and worked in this home!