Mari de Villa residents (from left) Bob Canepa, Mary Haake, John Studt, Ginny Maier, George Kelly, Nancy Weiler and Jolene Vogt

When retirement beckons, it’s tempting to imagine a rewarding lifestyle where your days are finally your own, and your calendar is filled with things you love to do. Your plans might include moving to a retirement community, but before that chapter begins, there are decisions to be made—important stuff like What color granite in the master bath? How nice would it be to have a private elevator? Retirees who choose the Villa Estates at Mari de Villa have those personalized choices available, and more. “Our Villa Estates units range from about 1,000 to 3,500 square feet,” says president Fred Wiesehan. “And they are very customizable. When our guests decide to move here, we sit down with them and discuss what they have in mind: things like hardwood floors, carpeting, tile, cabinet and paint colors, and we refurbish their villa to their specifications.” And that elevator for villas with a lower level? “It’s a beautiful brass and cherry ‘cab’ that can take them between floors!” he adds.

As the popularity of the villas increased, their size did, as well. “When we first began Villa Estates, we were approved for 102 units,” Wiesehan explains. “But as people became interested, they wanted bigger units, with room for dens or glassed-in porches, for example. So where we used to be able to build four units, now we build only two.” While the Villas provide space and amenities for an active senior lifestyle, the Mari de Villa community provides security and peace of mind, offering what Wiesehan describes as a ‘continuum of care” with minimum disruption. “Our guests may enjoy a number of years in their villa and when the time comes when they want more services available to them, they can move to the main building where we offer assisted living and skilled nursing care.” The longevity of the community’s staff plays an important role in the transition, he adds. “Two things have happened over that time: while our guests were in that villa they got to know us, and we got to know them. When they want to move, it’s very easy because our staff knows them, and understands their needs.” The main building includes the new Waterford wing, designed and built to take advantage of lakeside views. “Some of the suites overlook the lake,” Wiesehan says, “And guests using the new therapy room also have beautiful lake views through a wall of glass French doors.” Throughout the community, a close-knit family atmosphere prevails, perhaps because Wiesehan and his wife, Mari de Villa VP Mary Kay Wiesehan, live on-site and raised their three children on the 25-acre Mari de Villa campus. “We are in our 28th year, and our older son, Fred, recently joined us as a licensed administrator.” Daughter Courtney shares the family’s career direction. “She just graduated from Mizzou on Dec. 17,” Wiesehan says, “And, in today’s mail, she learned she’s been accepted into their accelerated nursing program.” In addition to the family’s multigenerational presence, Wiesehan says the faces of the employees tend to stay the same, unusual in an industry where the turnover rate is almost 100 percent. “Our nurses have been with us an average of 12 years.That’s important to us! We want to walk down the hall, or drive around the grounds, and know every guest, and their families, too.” Co-founder and chairman Georgana Linneman also lives on-site, playing an active role in day-to-day operations, he adds. For lifelong social butterflies, Wiesehan says there’s an abundance of activities and fun throughout Mari de Villa. “We just had a wonderful December, with Christmas parties, candlelight dinners and Christmas Day brunch.” And New Year’s Eve was not forgotten, he adds. “One lady said that when she was younger, she would begin her New Year’s celebrating at nine, and return home at five in the morning. She’s still celebrating, but now she leaves at 5 p.m. and she’s home by nine!”