From witnessing the conception of Friendship Haven to now being on the priority wait list themselves, Dr. Gary and Joan LeValley are proud to be a part of Friendship Haven’s history and hopefully one day soon, call it home.
The LeValleys’ history with Friendship Haven begins when both were children. Joan’s father was a Methodist minister in the area, and she remembers helping to raise funds for the first building. Dr. Gary LeValley also remembers participating in the children’s campaign, “pennies for bricks,” started by Dr. Clarence Tompkins. The thought behind the campaign came from Dr. Tompkins’s wife, Laura. Dr. Tompkins wanted the children of the area to point with pride at Friendship Haven and say, “I helped build it,” and that is exactly what Gary and Joan did!
Once Friendship Haven went from a dream to reality, Joan’s father, Fred Shultz, served as an original member of the Board of Directors. As each of Gary and Joan’s parents entered their next phase of life, both Joan’s parents and Gary’s mom then called Friendship Haven home. Joan’s mother, Helen Shultz, developed Alzheimer’s at the end of her life, and Joan remembers Friendship Haven to be such a safe and comfortable place for her
mother. “Friendship Haven was very goof to my mother as her Alzheimer’s took hold.” states Joan.
Dr. Gary LeValley began his years of service to Friendship Haven in 1966, when the health center was constructed. At the time, Friendship Haven had a medical team on staff, which Dr. LeValley was a part of. This concept didn’t last long, however, because physicians were already stretched thin, also serving the two local hospitals. Gary then began serving Friendship as a Director of the Board when Herb Bennett was President. After his term expired, Gary took a few years off but wasn’t ready to be done yet. In 2000 he came back to the board, also becoming Medical Director that same year. After holding that position for a few years, Dr. LeValley resigned from his role so he and his wife could travel during the winter months.
When asked about what he is most proud of during his tenure on the board, Gary responded, “Being a part of the groundbreaking of the Simpson Health Center was a memorable experience. Also, just watching and being a part of the evolution of the old East and West buildings going down, to town homes going up and now seeing Friendship Haven as it is today. I feel honored to be a part of it.” Dr. LeValley explained what a truly unique environment we have by saying, “the continuum of care here is an asset to the people of north central Iowa. A resident can go from total independence to total dependence with the support of Friendship Haven.”
Recently joining the priority wait list, Dr. LeValley and Joan are looking forward to their next involvement with Friendship Haven from a new perspective. “We always knew it would be Friendship Haven,” explained Joan. “They say you should go before you have to, and that is what we want to make sure happens.”
When asked what home meant to the both of them, Gary simply replied, “Each other. We can make a home wherever we go.” Joan added, “We just want a place to feel comfortable in. As you get older, it is easy to become isolated. At Friendship Haven, there is always something going on and opportunities to stay involved.” The LeValleys are looking forward to joining their friends on campus and making new memories with them.
Gary and Joan have four children, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Their daughter Lori Van Kirk is carrying on the family tradition, serving on the Board at Friendship Haven. We appreciate the LeValleys’ life-long support of Friendship Haven and look forward to having them on campus soon!