Trinity Oaks gears up for 20th anniversary

Catherine Hall, 98, was one of the first residents of the Trinity Oaks retirement community. She works out for an hour and a half three times a week in the community’s fitness center.
Catherine Hall, 98, was one of the first residents of the Trinity Oaks retirement community. She works out for an hour and a half three times a week in the community’s fitness center.

When the Trinity Oaks retirement community opened its doors in 1993, would anyone have dreamed that 20 years later the name would not only be one of the most respected in the community but also emblazoned on the side of a race car?

The retirement community will celebrate its 20th anniversary Oct. 11.


Initially planned and promoted in the late 1980s as “Lutheran Retirement Community” to complement the existing Lutheran Home, the name proved to be problematic because many mistakenly assumed that one had to be Lutheran in order to live there.

The confusion was addressed in 1989 when Parkside Marketing, an associate Lutheran organization, came on board. The Rev. Bob Shaner was walking the grounds one day and noticed what appeared to be an oak tree with three trunks. He was reminded of the Trinity — and out of that observation came the name Trinity Oaks. Later, “Trinity” was incorporated in the names of other LSC facilities, and what was formerly the Lutheran Home — just up the hill from the retirement community — is now known as Trinity Oaks health and rehab.

This year, Lutherans and non-Lutherans alike will celebrate the retirement community’s 20th anniversary. Festivities will include a gala dinner and dance for residents on Thursday, Oct. 10, and a celebration open to the public from 2-4 p.m. the following day that will feature a ribbon cutting with the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, live music, the Trinity Oaks race car on display, refreshments, and tours of the newly renovated cottages and apartments.

Trinity Oaks now offers 125 independent-living apartments as well as 20 assisted living residences and 42 cottages. The community has kept up with the times and the needs of its residents. In 2005, a full-service branch of F&M Bank was added. In 2008, a major expansion included improving the wellness area and adding a billiards room. The dining area was also expanded to include a main dining room, a bistro, and patio dining. At the same time, a new special events room — large enough to accommodate community groups as well as residents — was built.

Improvements are ongoing to help Trinity Oaks position itself for the upcoming “Silver Tsunami” that will hit society as baby boomers reach retirement age, said Mike Walsh, executive director of retirement services at Trinity Oaks. “My goal is to bring amenities and services on site to make it a one-stop-shop community,” he added.

Currently, renovations of three cottages and three apartments are under way, which will give the residences, built in 1993, a more modern look and feel. The kitchens are being opened up and will get granite countertops and new cabinets; tiled walk-in showers are being added to bathrooms. The apartments will get similar treatment, plus stackable washer/dryers and French doors leading to the patio. “It’s all about kitchens and bathrooms,” said Walsh, who has been at Trinity Oaks since 2004. The cottages and apartments under renovation will serve as models, and the remaining cottages and apartments will be updated in stages.

Catherine Hall, for one, appreciates what the Trinity Oaks community has to offer. She and her husband, Dr. Cullen Hall, were among the very first residents, moving into an apartment in May of 1993. While they had loved their previous home on Stuart Drive, they knew it would eventually be more than they could manage comfortably. They selected an apartment that, as Catherine says, would give them easy access to their car because they had an active lifestyle they planned to continue. After Cullen died in 2002, Catherine has continued to maintain her independence and remains active. At 98, she exercises for an hour and a half three times a week in the Trinity Oaks fitness center.

She loves that she can be around other people but still retreat to her apartment when she wants, secure in the knowledge that others are looking out for her. “I know I can push a button and there will be somebody swarming down here to see what’s wrong,” she said. “I’ve got my privacy and security both. It’s the best of both worlds.”

But Trinity Oaks is far more than a set of amenities for seniors. Trinity Oaks residents and staff are known for their enthusiastic civic involvement, whether it’s fundraising for Rowan Helping Ministries, crushing the competition at the Scrabble Scramble, sponsoring the Summer Reading Challenge, volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or the United Way Day of Caring, participating in the Rowan County Senior games, tutoring schoolchildren or sponsoring a golf tournament.

“These are exciting times for us,” Walsh said. “Trinity Oaks has a lot of momentum. As it says on the side of our race car, ‘Never slow down!’ ”

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