Key Figures from the Beginnings of Friendship Village Discuss the Founding and Development of Friendship Village Over the Last 45 Years

November 26, 2019 | The Villager | Reading Time 3:00 Minutes

Cue the Confetti… We’re Celebrating 45 Years!

To kick-off the year-long celebration of our 45th year, a Kitchen Table Talk was hosted to share the oral history of the founding of Friendship Village featuring those who were an integral part of our humble beginning.

The presentation was videotaped to memorialize the history for decades to come.

At the Kitchen Table were:

  • Alene Markillie — co-founder and wife of the late John Markillie, co-founder of Friendship Village. Alene is a current resident at Friendship Village.
  • Larry Laird — one of the four founders of Life Care Services Corporation, and served as Executive Vice President & COO of the company for its first 16 years. During which period encompassed the development and early years of operation of Friendship Village of Kalamazoo.
  • Larry Moon – Current resident at Friendship Village, and former Executive Director from 1977 – 2002. Larry was at the helm during many milestones at Friendship Village, including the purchase of the land that now houses our very popular Garden Home community.

Moderated by Betsy Bale, Executive Director and Ken Greschak, Director of Fund Development and Life Enrichment, this two-hour journey began with Alene sharing the motivation behind building an independent living, senior living community in the Kalamazoo area. The concept was inspired by John’s parents when they were looking at a community in the Jackson, MI area. After reviewing the literature with John, and not wanting to move that far away from family, John made the now-infamous phone call to Christian Home Services, now Life Care Services.

Larry Laird answered the phone call with a letter stating Christian Home Services was indeed interested in researching the Kalamazoo area for the building of a new community. Larry shared many behind-the-scenes stories of how a community such as Friendship Village is actually built and organized.

Larry Moon shared the major milestones he was directly involved in during his tenure as Executive Director that shaped Friendship Village into the community we all enjoy today.

A Question and Answer period was opened up to the audience of residents to ask all of their burning questions about the community they call home.

The event wrapped with a meet and greet for the Kitchen Table Talk participants and residents.

Over the coming year, monthly celebrations and pictorial histories will be created for residents, families, employees and visitors to enjoy. On October 1, 2020, a grand celebration will be held for residents with dinner and a band. An employee celebration will follow.

Watch for our historical pictorial displays!