This is the story of a triple win—for alumni, Granville, and Denison. In 1995, two couples with close ties to Denison—Jack ’47 and Jane Carstensen Heller ’49 and David ’45 and Dee Lindenberger Richards ’49—had a vision to develop a retirement community, providing independent and assisted living, plus skilled nursing, in Granville where residents could take part in lifelong learning opportunities at the College. They were familiar with the Kendal retirement communities, many of which are located in small college towns, and hoped to partner with Denison to bring a Kendal community to Granville.
The Kendal Corporation is a leading nonprofit provider of communities, programs, and services for older adults. Headquartered in the Philadelphia area, Ken-dal was established in the early 1970s by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Each of its 13 campuses is rooted in Quaker values, but open to all. A distinctive feature of many Kendal communities is their close proximity to institutions of higher learning, including Cornell, Dartmouth, Oberlin and, of course, Denison, which means residents can enjoy an extensive roster of educational, artistic, and sporting events at the colleges.
The Heller/Richards dream was realized in 2005 when Kendal at Granville welcomed its first resident, Harriett Faxon Stone ’54, former director of alumni relations at Denison. The Hellers, Richardses, and other Denisonians were among the founding residents. Over the last 12 years, many other members of the Denison family have become involved at Kendal, including current residents Bill McConnell ’55, David Bayley ’55, and Constance Barsky ’66, all of whom have served on Denison’s board of trustees. The Denison contingent also includes several members of the College’s faculty and senior administration who have served on Kendal’s board. Today, close to 40 percent of Kendal’s 160 residents are Denison alumni or former faculty or staff. Other Kendal residents have come to Granville from around the country, often to be near their family members who work at the College.
For residents of Kendal at Granville, almost all activities at Denison are free of charge or entail only a modest fee. They are able to take advantage of the Vail Series, which has hosted such luminaries as Yo-Yo Ma, Yuja Wang, Renée Fleming, and Bobby McFerrin. There are student music festivals, theatre and dance workshops, and art exhibitions. The Lugar Lecture Series and Babcock Lectureship bring a broad array of speakers to campus, ensuring a wide range of political perspectives. The Beck Series, established in memory of Harriet Beck, Class of 1910, is a mainstay of creative writing studies at the College and has hosted writers like Eudora Welty, Alice Walker, Tom Stoppard, and poet laureate W. S. Merwin. And the Reid and Polly Anderson Lecture Series (named for Reid Anderson ’38, a Denison trustee, and his wife) brings top scientists to campus each year. In addition to lectures and performances on campus, Denison faculty, students, and distinguished visitors often come to Kendal’s campus to speak or perform in the Amelia Room.
A Kendal retirement facilitates continuing education, access to college life, and a wide range of activities. Harriett Stone edits Kendal’s monthly literary magazine. Jane Heller continues her career as a painter, including showing her work in various local galleries. David ’62 and Becky Bates Skeen ’62 are respectively vice president of the Granville Historical Society and docent at the museum of the Granville Historical Society. Peg Collier Bammann ’49 founded a buddy system for long-term residents and helps with Kendal’s marketing. Joan Novak, professor emeritus of religion, plays competitive duplicate bridge, punctuated by bouts of ping-pong.
And the Denison-Kendal partnership benefits not only Kendal residents but students and faculty at the College as well. Kendal residents often take classes on campus and provide important perspectives on history, culture, and business to current students. In addition, students can conduct research and pursue internship opportunities at Kendal. And because so many Kendal residents are affiliated with the College, Denison benefits from the vibrant community that attracts visits from classmates across the country. It’s as though the College’s annual alumni weekend is a continuing event at Kendal, refreshing fond memories and deepening ties with the College and the Denison family.
Granville too benefits from the presence of Kendal retirees who are looking for a small-town experience with easy access to services and opportunities to participate in village life. Kendal residents take full advantage of Granville’s excellent public library, bookstore, pharmacy, post office, and robust restaurant scene, which includes old favorites like the Granville Inn and the Aladdin Diner. And the Denison Golf Club at Granville is not only the home course for the Denison golf teams, but for Kendal golfers as well.
Granville is an active, engaged, and social community, complete with Fourth of July festivities, a Turkey Trot run at Thanksgiving, Porsche car rally, Daffodil Show, downtown Farmers Market, and summer concerts on Denison’s lower campus lawn.
The Kendal-Denison partnership, as envisioned by the Hellers and Richardses more than 20 years ago, has created a trifecta of benefits—for residents, who gain access to the College’s intellectual life; for Granville, which gains the engagement of seniors in its commercial, social, and civic arenas; and for Denison, which enjoys deeper connections with its alumni through their participation in the life of the College.
To learn more about Kendal at Granville, go to kag.kendal.org.