Whether our Cardinals are in the playoffs, the Series, or it just wasn’t their year, most St. Louisans know that October means baseball, and if enthusiasm reaches a slightly higher ‘pitch’ at Mari de Villa, it’s understandable. Baseball Hall-of- Famer Albert ‘Red’ Schoendienst is an integral part of the retirement community. “Red lives in one of our villas and he’s also a member of our board,” says Fred Wiesehan, Mari de Villa president. “We all enjoy that special connection to our hometown team!” The board is led by chairman Georganna Linneman, who cofounded Mari de Villa with her late husband, Joe.

The popular retirement community, which celebrated its golden anniversary in 2010, offers independent living, as well as assisted living and skilled nursing care. The continuing care is especially appealing to older adults who want to ‘age in place’ as their needs change, Wiesehan explains. “We have one couple who just moved from their large villa to one of the luxury suites in our newly completed Waterford wing. They reminded us that having these graduated levels of care is what attracted them to Mari de Villa when they moved here 10 years ago.” The couple’s new suite is large enough to accommodate many pieces from their villa, he adds. “Their decorator assisted them with colors, draperies and other design details, and it just turned out beautifully. They really are enjoying their afternoons on the balcony, overlooking the water.”

The Waterford wing, completed in June, includes eight luxury suites with either garden or lake views. “They’ve been very well-received!” says Wiesehan. “They are about twice the size of our private rooms. The architecture is stunning, and the suites incorporate luxury finishes and lots of extras.”

One future resident of the luxury suites should feel especially at home when she sits on her new balcony. “That’s a pretty neat story,” Wiesehan says. “Two of the suites are reserved by the daughter of one of our guests from the early 1980s. Her mother had a two-room suite overlooking the lake, and now she will, as well.” As part of construction, the two suites will be combined into one for the second-generation guest, he adds.

The new Waterford wing also features a comprehensive rehab and therapy facility. “It’s amazing—really state of the art!” Wiesehan says. “It overlooks the lake, too, so when our guests are receiving therapy or getting some exercise, they have this gorgeous view through a wall of windows. Everyone says it’s very motivating.”

Although the 25-plus acre Mari de Villa campus is beautifully landscaped with a lake, fountains and gardens, and the buildings are equally welcoming, Wiesehan says, adding that the staff is the No. 1 asset of the community. “The turnover rate in long-term care is extremely high—sometimes 100 percent annually. The average length of employment for our nurses is 12 years, and we have some who have been here 20 years and more. When it comes down to it, that’s what families are looking for—continuity of care.”

Wiesehan and his wife, Mari de Villa vice president Mary Kay, live on the property and raised their three children there. “Their first car ride was from St. Luke’s Hospital to here,” he laughs. “And they grew up with hundreds of ‘extra grandparents.’ Our oldest son, Fred ‘Fritz’ III, and his new bride, Mary, are on staff, as well. This isn’t just our career—it’s our home, too.”

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