Our communities are full of people who have stories to tell about how Providence has become an integral part of their lives. Some represent generations of people who have volunteered, supported, prayed for, and lived with us. Others become a member of the Providence family and begin a relationship that will last throughout new generations. The Ahlgrim’s story serves as one such example.
For decades, Art & Arlene Ahlgrim were pillars in the Elmhurst community. As owners and operators of a successful funeral home, active church members, and generous donors to many local non-profit organizations, the couple were easily recognizable whenever they were in public.
After they retired, they moved to a spacious townhome that was certainly easier to manage than their family home. But Arlene knew that with Art’s recently-diagnosed Parkinson’s, they needed to plan for the long-term. Arlene would say to her son Scott and daughter-in-law Charity, “If something happens to me, who’s going to take care of Dad?” When plans were announced to build Park Place in Elmhurst, they were thrilled at the opportunity.
“There was never any other place they considered,” Scott says, “and they couldn’t wait to move in.”
They came to the Park Place Groundbreaking, posing with shovels and hard hats. “If they could have moved in any sooner, they would have,” Scott says. “It let them stay in their beloved city of Elmhurst, surrounded by the people and places they loved.”
They chose a corner unit with a balcony on the fifth floor, the perfect spot to watch fireworks or read the morning paper while enjoying breakfast. And while they’d been retired from the funeral business for a while now, this move let Arlene retire from half a century as a housewife.
“Finally, Arlene could relax,” Charity says. “She didn’t have to do the grocery shopping and cooking, and to have someone come in and clean the apartment? She thought she was in heaven.”
Art and Arlene thrived in their retirement, attending fitness classes, swimming, watching movies with their neighbors, and going on day trips on Park Place outings. “Dad was a killer ping-pong player,” Scott says, “and he and his train-enthusiast friends loved tinkering around in the train room.”
When Arlene unexpectedly passed away in 2019, the community rallied around Art. “We were there almost every day, but the staff would still update us on anything they noticed, like if he wasn’t coming down for breakfast,” Charity says. “His neighbors would invite him over or sit with him at dinner, just to remind him he still had a family at Park Place.”
The family could see now just how much Arlene had been helping Art with daily activities. They realized he would need extra assistance in his apartment, so they took advantage of the Park Place Campus Care program. “This was the kind of care Mom was talking about,” Scott says. “We had so much peace knowing there was every level of care available.”
Art used almost all the services that Providence provides: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing Care (both short-term and long-term care), home healthcare, and private duty Campus Care. “The staff facilitated any needed care changes so seamlessly,” Scott says. “My dad didn’t have to move to a different community, and that familiarity was comforting for both him and our family.”
Eventually, at the end of Art’s life when hospice care was needed, the Ahlgrims called on Providence Hospice to provide the services that would give him the most comfort in his final days. What brings the family peace is knowing there was never a moment where Art lacked care, from both staff and his community of friends at Park Place.
“This is the intangible thing,” Scott says. “You know every level of care is available from the staff, but you also know the care that comes from the community itself, his family here who loved him and rallied around him when needed. And then, after he died, they rallied around us. We were their family, too.”
After each of the Ahlgrims passed away, special memorial services were held at Park Place, and Chaplain Gerry Erffmeyer presided over both the campus and the public services. “To have a service here, focused on the residents and led by a chaplain who knew them well—that’s huge,” Charity says. The other residents told them so many stories about Art and Arlene that they’d never heard before. “It was one more way that we knew they had made the right choice when they moved here.”
Art and Arlene made sure a sizable donation was made to Park Place when they died, and the family followed suit with their own generosity. The entire Ahlgrim family wants to make sure Park Place continues to provide for others what was so kindly given to them. “When I look back on their time here, it’s just great memories, and I feel so much peace,” Scott says. “For the family, that’s so important. Their last years, all spent here—those were really good years.”