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Bethany Homes celebrates 50 years

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Bethany Homes celebrates 50 years

It’s the excitement of meeting a Clydesdale horse eating the cake in your lap that thrilled Bethany resident Marilyn McGlynn and activities assistant Diana Beeler. The Cal Crush Corporation in Rip...

Photo contributed/

POSTED February 21, 2013 1:06 a.m.

Bethany Home has made its mark on the Ripon community over the last 50 providing senior citizens a home away from home when families could no longer provide adequate care for them.

Bethany Home Society has been selected to serve as the grand marshal for the 51st annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival.  Current director of the facility, Andrew Lee,  said that no one person is being honored as the grand marshal, rather a cross section of the Bethany staff that will be in the line of march on a float that is now under construction.

Lee said Bethany Home wasn’t truly “Bethany Home” until the construction of the early ‘60s was completed and the doors were opened to welcome its residents from the community.

Bethany was incorporated in 1958 with construction underway in 1963. The opening came in 1964 for the offices and the first nursing units.

It was on Aug. 23, 1963 that Richard Mulder spoke from the heart on the creation of the new facility primarily for the aged in Ripon.  “You have embarked on a blessed ministry, dear friends.  This community will never be the same,” he told Society members.

The Rev. John DeJong and Andrew Douma and others in the Ripon community were searching for a nursing home they could use for a model as an answer for their dream in creating Bethany.  It was 1957 when DeJong and Douma were driving out of state visiting various nursing homes of interest when they found a Christian home in Washington State that caught their attention and matched DeJong vision that could fit his community.

Douma did the driving on the trip, because DeJong didn’t drive.  After deciding he had found the perfect facility to model, he returned to Ripon to see his vision unfold from his original dream and to watch his community build a home like none other for the aged and the infirm.

Supporters from the Reformed and Christian Reformed churches organized, creating the Bethany Home Society of San Joaquin County in October of 1958.  The site on Main Street was purchased in 1959 and fundraising efforts were developed to provide for the financing and construction of a 74-bed nursing home.

Supportive church members were diligent in canvassing for donations, pledges and loans.  When the building was erected in 1963 the entire $300,000 had been realized through the generosity of the people of Ripon.

Ida Schepel was the first resident and within one year Bethany Home had been filled to capacity.  The demand for expanded services was soon identified and within five years the building of the Garden Apartments on the Vera Avenue side of the campus got off the drawing board and went into the construction mode.

Independent living in the Manor Apartments followed in 1979 with a continued need for more available apartments.  Ten years later the Adult Day Care program was also on the drawing board to soon become another reality for Bethany.

The assisted Living Facility Plan came about in 1990 providing residential care for the elderly.  Dementia and Alzheimer’s care needs followed with the Memory Care Homes being built in 2001 at the corner of Second Street and Wilma Avenue.   The Sunset Apartment units were also built in that year providing housing for older independent adults.

The Bethany Home Town Square Cottages and two story apartments were built on the north side of West Main Street in 2008 and included advanced features including an indoor exercise pool that is also used for swimming.  The pool is open to the community with a slight monthly charge.  Exercise classes are also available.

Three years ago Bethany added its In-Home Care program designed to provide services for both men and women who have a need for support in their homes and apartments.

Bethany Home Society serves some 400 adults every day of the week.  The residents of Bethany represent a community cross section of history with past services where they too made a difference with their lives.  There are former teachers, pastors, businessmen, craftsmen, farmers, housewives, and professionals of every type. 

A staff of more than 225 serves the needs of Bethany Home every day of the week.


To contact Glenn Kahl, e-mail

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