Parkway Place begins $12.8 million renovation and expansion project

parkway place expansion

Parkway Place, a nonprofit faith-based senior living community in Houston, is undergoing a $12.8 million renovation and expansion project to improve existing areas and create a new state-of-the-art skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.

The project has already started and is expected to finish in the fall. The community currently consists of 159 independent living residences, 58 assisted living apartments, 24 memory care apartments and 60 skilled nursing rooms. The renovation project will transform the skilled nursing rooms into private suites, which will reduce the total number to 40. The project also includes the addition of a bistro-style dining venue, as well as renovation of the existing dining rooms, activity rooms, sitting areas and common spaces.

“The completion of the renovations will benefit current and future residents,” said Susan Phelps, executive director at Parkway Place. “The new state-of-the-art skilled nursing center is going to provide more privacy for residents. Since we opened in 1998 the rooms have been private or semi-private, and we wanted to change that. While we are losing some rooms, we will make up for it by improving the overall comfort of residents. They are our main priority, and we will do anything to ensure they have a happy place to call home.”

“As with everything we do, our goal in making these renovations is to further the Parkway Place legacy of serving Houston senior adults with excellence,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president for Buckner Retirement Services. “Parkway Place has been part of Houston since 1955, so our history in the local community is rich. The project is going smoothly, and we anticipate construction will finish on time. I believe the changes will really make a difference in the lives of senior adults, and that is our main goal. We are here to serve them, and completing this project will give them an updated, beautiful place to live.”

Parkway Place partnered with Hill and Wilkinson General Contractors, D2 Architecture, LLC and interior designer Spellman Brady & Company for the project.

For more information on the renovations or to learn more about life at Parkway Place, call LuLu today at 281-677-5912.

Buckner Villas completes $29.8 million expansion and renovation project

beautiful mountain side mansion

Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and by 2040 the population of adults 65 and older is expected to comprise nearly one-fifth of the Central Texas population, according to the Aging Services Council of Central Texas.

To meet the increasing demand for independent senior living apartments, Buckner Villas, a faith-based senior living community in North Austin, recently completed its $29.8 million expansion and renovation project. The expansion project added 69 one- and two-bedroom apartment homes and 70 underground parking spaces. The community also renovated and expanded common areas including dining room, bistro, movie theater, meeting space, salon and spa.

By increasing the independent living housing and amenities, the community will now have the opportunity to serve up to 138 additional senior adults.

“We’re elated to accommodate more senior adults at Buckner Villas,” said Doyle Antle, executive director. “New residents have already started moving in and are looking forward to living a lively lifestyle with our current and new amenities. This was nearly a two-year project, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the results. We needed to plan for the future, and this helps us grow with the Austin metro area. It shows that more senior adults are willing to move to an independent living apartment at a senior living community and still keep their active lifestyles.”

“Austin is growing rapidly, and we want to provide for the baby boomers who will soon enter the senior living market,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president for Buckner Retirement Services. “We’re seeing more senior adults moving to Texas to retire, especially in Austin, so we’re proud to give them such a beautiful place to call home. The new common areas and amenities are fantastic, and this expansion wouldn’t have been possible without our partners Hill and Wilkinson General Contractors, Barbara J. Vessels Interiors Inc., and D2 Architecture.”

Writing on a prayer: Westminster Place resident becomes published author at 85

senior becomes author at 85

85-year-old Lee Rose never expected to be a published author. She never even considered herself a writer.

But today the Buckner Westminster Place resident is the proud author of “Time Alone with God,” a collection of prayers and conversations with God. The book candidly addresses struggles many senior adults face related to downsizing, loss and life transition.

“I didn’t sit down to write anything more than just my conversations with the Lord every day,” Rose said.

Rose wrote every day, one day at a time, over six months before the book was finished. The process, Rose said, deepened her walk with God in ways she never expected.

“Now I can hear the birds sing and know it’s something to give thanks for,” Rose said. “I don’t get down like I was before. My husband, brother and sister-in-law had all passed away in a matter of months. At the time I felt like it was the end of the world, but I don’t feel that way anymore.”

When Rose began writing the book, she had no intention of publishing it. She simply sat down every morning and wrote what came to mind, whether conversations with God or memories she didn’t want to forget. She wrote by hand, then went to the computer and typed it.

“I just set aside a time to be with the Lord, then wrote down what he taught me,” Rose said. “I did it for my family, but then I thought maybe there are others that have some of those same anxieties and fears. The response has been incredible.”

Well aware of the challenges that come with aging, Rose hopes that the book reminds people of who God is every day, in every season.

“I hope my book shows people that God continues to love us despite all our mistakes,” Rose said. “He sent his son to draw us to him, and he just continues to draw us to him if we just listen.”

Writing isn’t the only thing that keeps Rose busy. She volunteers twice a week at Heartisans Marketplace in Longview and regularly participates in Buckner Westminster Place activities.

“We’re blessed to have residents like Lee Rose here at Buckner,” said David Sims, executive director of Buckner Westminster Place. “Her genuine heart is so evident, and it’s inspiring to see the ways she continues to use her life to glorify God.”

David Sims named Executive Director of Buckner Westminster Place

buckner hope shines here

Buckner Retirement Services named David Sims as Executive Director of Buckner Westminster Place, effective March 7.

David comes to Westminster Place from Christian Care in Mesquite where he served as Health Care Center Administrator. His tenure with Buckner, however, began four years ago when he served as Administrator for Elsie Gayer Healthcare Center at Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo from 2014 to early 2017.

As Executive Director of Westminster Place, he’ll be responsible for overseeing the daily operations and future direction of the Longview nonprofit senior living community.

“David’s wealth of experience in senior living and his commitment to the mission and values of Buckner make him an excellent fit to lead Buckner Westminster Place,” said Charlie Wilson, Senior Vice President of Buckner Retirement Services. “We are pleased to have David join our leadership team and look forward to the ways his skills will help us continue to build this great organization.”

Opened in 1996, Westminster Place is a thriving faith-based senior living community offering a full continuum of living and care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term and skilled nursing.

David comes to his role as Executive Director with extensive senior living and health care management experience. He’s worked with various senior living communities across Texas—from Waco to Abilene to San Angelo—since 2010 and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington.

David thanked leadership from Buckner International and Buckner Retirement Services for the opportunity to continue serving senior adults through life-enriching programs and expert health care.

“Serving senior adults is my passion and calling,” David said. “Getting to live out that calling as part of this outstanding Buckner team is a true honor, and I look forward to furthering Buckner Westminster Place as a leading provider of East Texas senior living.”

Faith Focus: ‘Give him yours’

seniors smiling

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

Pastor Cuong Manh Tran knew he needed help. More specifically, he knew he needed a kidney.

After decades of pastoring Mobberly Baptist Church’s small Vietnamese congregation, Tran had had to step down due to rapidly declining health. He spent hours on dialysis treatments each day and eventually learned he would need a transplant if he hoped to live much longer. He and his wife waited prayerfully for the right match to come. Expecting the kidney to come from a deceased person, they understood the wait might take years.

What he didn’t expect, however, was for the donation to come from someone living. Someone, in fact, he called friend.

77-year-old John Ramsey, a Buckner Westminster Place resident who at the time had known Tran for just a few years, saw his friend’s need. He joined the family in prayer, but the answer to those prayers led to an unexpected conviction: Ramsey donated his own kidney.

“I was praying for Brother Tran, and it was as if the Lord said, ‘What’s wrong with your kidney? You give him yours.’ And I just knew I had to do this.”

Today, both Ramsey and Tran are healthy. Tran is back working at the church occasionally. Ramsey is back enjoying resident activities at Westminster Place. They even spent the holidays together.

Tran and Ramsey’s story is a beautiful picture of the gospel—one of the closest we may see this side of heaven. Giving of oneself so another might live. This is what Christ did for us.

Ramsey gave comfort, security and assurance of health so his friend might have a chance at life.

God gave his Son, and the Son gave his life, so we might have eternal life.

This week, how can you take time to reflect on the gift of the gospel more? How will you let the undeserved gift of eternal life impact your life today?

Friday photo: Buckner Villas expansion to welcome new residents early 2018

Buckner Villas

Buckner Villas in Austin is set to welcome its first residents to the newly-finished GreenRidge independent living expansion in early 2018. The expansion includes 69 new indpendent living apartment homes, a grand ballroom, underground parking and breathtaking views of the Texas hill country. For information about the new apartment homes and how you can join this active community today, call Paul at 512.233.7949.

Photo courtesy of Hill & Wilkinson General Contractors. 

Why not me?

77-year-old John Ramsey had devoted his entire life to serving the Lord.

A former pastor who served 45 years in the ministry—27 overseas with the International Mission Board and 18 stateside—Ramsey had led countless people to Christ, bridged cultural boundaries and sacrificed comforts for the sake of the gospel. Still, after retiring, he sensed his faith growing stale and felt a strong conviction to go deeper.

“I felt that I really didn’t love God as I should,” Ramsey recalled with tears. “So I began to pray about it, and while praying remembered the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. I began to pray in more of those terms, that I would love God and love my neighbor.”

At the time, Ramsey had no idea that 10 years later the prayer would lead him to a Vietnamese immigrant, a transplant center and, ultimately, death’s door.


Cuong Manh Tran, a Southern Vietnamese naval officer and reeducation camp survivor, escaped to the U.S. in 1979.

During the seven-day voyage from Vietnam to California, Tran, a Buddhist, surrendered his life to Christ. That commitment led him to Longview, Texas, where he was baptized alongside his family and later became pastor of Mobberly Baptist Church’s small Vietnamese congregation.

Soon after taking the role of lead pastor, Tran’s kidneys began failing. For the next 30 years, he would be in and out of medical appointments, on and off medication and eventually relying on 9-hour dialysis treatments each night.

“I wanted more and more people to know the Lord, so I kept working,” Tran said. “I wanted to find the lost people and bring them back to God.”

When Ramsey met Tran in 2012, he was still pastoring but losing strength daily. By 2016, he could no longer work, and doctors placed him on a kidney transplant list.


Ramsey remembers praying for Tran during a daily devotional.

“I was praying for Brother Tran, and it was as if the Lord said, ‘What’s wrong with your kidney? You give him yours.’ And I just knew I had to do this.”

Tran accepted the proposition, but struggled to comprehend his friend’s decision.

“I couldn’t imagine someone giving a part of their body to me,” Tran said. “We had prayed for a kidney, but I thought it would come from someone who had already gone to be with the Lord. God had other plans for me, and he had other plans for John Ramsey—for us to be used for his glory.”


The two began the six-month process to prepare for a transplant. Every two weeks, Ramsey made the trip to Tyler to see different doctors, have more tests and verify the procedure was safe. Aware of the risks, Ramsey still never worried.

“I had the understanding that Lord would close the door if he needed to,” he said.


The morning of the procedure dawned with hopeful certainty. Both surgeries ran smoothly. Tran’s new kidney went to work just as a kidney should. Ramsey even got to go home early.

“Everything went well,” remembers Tran. “Mr. John came by before he went home, and I was very happy to see him. In my mind, everything was good.”

One week after the surgery, however, Ramsey developed serious stomach pains. Emergency room doctors diagnosed him with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a rare condition from which only two percent of patients survive. Even after an emergency surgery, his body began to shut down. Family and friends prepared for the worst.

Tran, still recovering from his own surgery and under doctor’s orders to stay home, was distraught. Helpless, he begged God for his friend’s healing.

“I didn’t know what to do except pray to God for a chance to see each other again, a chance to get on with our lives,” Tran said.

Their prayers were answered, and two weeks later Ramsey was released from intensive care. He had to relearn everything from walking to swallowing during months of physical therapy, but his wife, Ann, said she knew this was all part of God’s plan.

“God didn’t want to just heal one man,” she said with a tearful smile. “He wanted to heal two. He multiplied the miracle.”


Today, both Ramsey and Tran are healthy. Tran is back working at the church occasionally. Ramsey is back enjoying resident activities at Westminster Place. They even spent Thanksgiving together.

“To me, he’s more than a friend,” Tran said. “Before this we were brothers in Christ, but now he’s my brother in life by blood too.”

As the two pastors sat inside the simple double-wide trailer that is the Vietnamese church and shared their story, a red banner with gold-threaded Vietnamese lettering stood behind them.

The words on the banner? “From morning to night, we remember what The Lord gives us.”

Hargett named executive director of Baptist Retirement Community

Buckner Retirement Services named Aaron Hargett as executive director of Baptist Retirement Community, effective Sept. 1.

Hargett has served Baptist Retirement since 2007, first as administrator of home health and hospice and then as director of independent living. As executive director, he will be responsible for overseeing the daily operations and future direction of the nonprofit senior living community.

“I am thrilled to bring Aaron onto our executive leadership team,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services. “Over the last 10 years, we’ve seen that he is servant-hearted, passion-driven and more than capable of managing such a large community. There’s really no one better for the job.”

Baptist Retirement Community is a thriving 100-acre senior living community located in the heart of West Texas’ Concho Valley. Home to more than 500 senior adults, the Life Plan community offers a full continuum of living and care, including independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term and skilled nursing.

Hargett comes to the executive director position with nearly 30 years of experience in medical and social services, including director of San Angelo’s Shannon Rehab Center. He is active in the San Angelo community and currently serves on the board of the Rotary Club of San Angelo. Hargett earned both his bachelor’s degree in psychology and his master’s in clinical psychology from Angelo State University.

Hargett thanked leadership from Buckner International, Buckner Retirement Services and Baptist Memorials Ministries for the opportunity to continue serving West Texas senior adults through life-enriching programs and expert health care.

“The staff and residents here at Baptist Retirement have become like family,” Hargett said. “I’m grateful to be part of their lives and look forward to growing this community into San Angelo’s leading senior living provider.”

Choosing to move on: Flood victim finds new life at Parkway Place

Joan Haggard

86-year-old Joan Haggard arrived at Parkway Place just days after losing everything to Hurricane Harvey. This is her story.


Joan Haggard’s weathered tan journal sits unassumingly atop the kitchen table in her new Parkway Place apartment, next to a neat stack of papers, files and phone numbers—the essentials salvaged from her flooded Houston home. In black ink and perfect cursive, the journal tells pieces of the 86-year-old widow’s Hurricane Harvey experience.

Like many, Haggard lost nearly everything in the historic storm. Family mementos, tokens from her 62-year marriage and items locked inside a “waterproof” safe—all ruined by the four feet of water that sat in her home for more than a week. If Haggard were to stand at the front of her home today, she could see all the way through the back door.

“It’s different,” Haggard said. “You never think of this happening to you.”

During the storm, Haggard stayed with her son’s family in Bellaire. The 40-year-old house had never flooded before, but a few days into Harvey it began taking in water. The water, which rose to more than a foot, forced Haggard and her family to move to a neighbor’s second story garage. There, she slept several nights on the floor, underneath the pool table.

“Otherwise, it’s not so easy for an 86-year-old to get off the floor!” she laughed.

Haggard, who grew up in West Texas, has lived in Houston for 48 years. She’s raised three children, buried one son to Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), and for 47 years was the sole caregiver for her husband after a plane crash left him paralyzed.

Still, most would characterize Haggard by her unwavering faith and gentle optimism.

“Life is okay,” Haggard said. “You go on. You survive, and here in Houston I think we all come out better. We can choose to.”

Haggard was the first of more than 15 residents to move to Parkway Place as a direct result of Hurricane Harvey. Some stayed at the Houston senior living community only temporarily, others made plans to call it home permanently. Haggard says they share a unique bond.

“When I walked in, I knew it was okay,” she said. “I felt like I was family, like I was right where I belonged.”

Fellow residents, Haggard remembers, joked that living at Parkway Place during Harvey was like living on an island: all the surrounding areas were covered in water.

“They said it must have something to do with the retired missionaries who live at Parkway Place,” laughed Haggard.

Already, Haggard has made herself at home at Parkway Place, jumping in to ongoing Bible studies and activities like Bingo, which she regrettably didn’t win. Her longtime friend, Betty Beard, moved to Parkway Place shortly after Haggard. The two live just two doors down from each other.

“I feel comfortable here,” Haggard said. “I feel loved.”

Since the flood, Haggard has only visited her home once. Even then she had to wear a surgical mask to keep from inhaling dust and debris.

Around her wrist, Haggard wears a white rubber bracelet with the word “hescycha” printed in blue. The word is Greek for stillness. It’s a practice, Haggard says, she clings to now more than ever.

“I’m learning to be still and listen to God,” she said. “We talk to him so much in our prayers, but he says to just be still and know that he is God. I lost things, but they’re just things. I’m very blessed.”

The one thing she made sure to take with her to Parkway Place? A framed photo of her husband that had been hanging in their bedroom. She wanted him to be with her.

“I think he would like it here,” she smiled.

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