Four senior living industry pioneers have been named to the 2021 class of the American Seniors Housing Association’s Senior Living Hall of Fame.

Carl Campbell, Robert Thomas, William Thomas and Patricia Will will be inducted July 26 at ASHA’s Mid-Year Meeting in Incline Village, NV. They will join 13 honorees from three previous classes.

ASHA created the Senior Living Hall of Fame in 2018 to recognize “visionary individuals who have distinguished themselves through uncommon foresight” as well as “groundbreaking innovation” and “an unwavering commitment to community lifestyles that enhance choice, independence, dignity and personalized service.”

“These innovative leaders have helped to build an industry dedicated to the care of our elders,” ASHA President David Schless said. “We are very grateful to them and their commitment to senior living.”

Carl Campbell speaking
Carl Campbell

Carl Campbell, who passed away in 2020 at 98, was a pioneer investor, property owner and mentor to many in the senior housing industry, ASHA said.

From Yakima, WA, Campbell’s legacy includes a retirement and assisted living company that once spanned more than 180 communities in 21 states, as well as many other business and philanthropic endeavors. His influence touched several long-term care companies, including Frontier Management, Holiday Retirement, Integral Senior Living and Life Care Centers of America.

Campbell operated seniors housing communities for 62 years, from 1954 to 2016, when he sold the last four properties in his portfolio to Vancouver, WA-based Prestige Care.

He and his wife, Betty, arrived in Wenatchee, WA, in 1953 to build the Parkside Manor Nursing Home. It opened a year later and continued in operation until 2007.

In the 1960s, Campbell and two partners formed CAMLU Retirement Centers. The company invested in skilled nursing facilities and eventually started building its own version of continuing care retirement community.

Sue Farrow, founder of Integral Senior Living, worked for CAMLU for 16 years and said Campbell was an incomparable mentor. In fact, he had deep ties to many industry leaders.

His connection to Greg Roderick, president and CEO at Frontier Management, spanned three generations. Roderick’s grandfather operated several nursing homes owned by the Campbells. Then later, with the Campbells’ encouragement, Greg Roderick’s father, Ron, launched a nursing home business with Bill Colson. After Ron Roderick’s death, Greg Roderick worked for Colson and was later hired by the Campbells to manage 10 communities.

“That was my start,” Roderick told ASHA. His portfolio at Frontier now includes 126 communities. “I owe a great deal of my success to their belief in me.”

William and Robert Thomas headshots
William Thomas, left, and Robert Thomas

Twin brothers Robert D. “Bob” Thomas and William F. “Bill” Thomas co-founded Gemini Properties in 1976 with the acquisition of an eight-unit rental property. In 1989, they shifted the company’s focus to senior living with the founding of Senior Star, headquartered in Tulsa, OK.

In addition to their contributions over the past 45 years through Gemini Properties or Senior Star, Bob Thomas is in his 25th year of board service to the Alzheimer’s Association. And he is one of three founding members of the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, a sister organization, where he remains the board treasurer.

Bill Thomas currently serves on the National Alzheimer’s Association Board. As ASHA’s 2006–2007 chairperson, he introduced an annual, strategic Seniors Housing PAC campaign, leading to a 10-fold increase in annual funding.

Locally, Bill and Bob both are inductees in the Tulsa Historical Society Hall of Fame and the University of Tulsa’s Business Hall of Fame. They currently are co-chairing the university’s long-range capital campaign. Additionally, the Thomases have served in several leadership capacities (president, campaign chair and executive committee members) for Augsburg University, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Oklahoma, Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Family & Children’s Services, LIFE Senior Services, the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma, the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa Area United Way and the Tulsa Community Foundation.

Patricia Will headshot
Patricia Will

ASHA is recognizing Patricia Will, founder and CEO of Belmont Village Senior Living, for being an innovative force in the senior housing sector ever since she launched her company in 1997, a time of rapid expansion in the industry.

Will built her business after earning an MBA at Harvard Business School. “At the time she enrolled, she admittedly didn’t know a debit from a credit or how to read a financial statement,” according to ASHA. “And she says she certainly hadn’t thought much about leadership. She later described the experience at Harvard as ‘life-changing.’ ”

Will said she set out to fill a void in the assisted living space by combining the best practices of gerontology, hospitality and architecture to create a high-end product, the cornerstone of which is programming designed to enrich residents’ lives.

That mission led to the development of Belmont Village West University, which opened in Houston in 1998. Today, Belmont Village has 31 operating communities, and the company continues to develop new projects, with three communities slated to open in 2022 in California and Florida.

In addition to its U.S. communities, Belmont Village brought U.S.– style senior living to Mexico. The company opened a high-rise project in 2017 in Mexico City. At the time, the city of 21 million people had virtually no senior living.

Will is chairman emeritus of ASHA and is on the board and Public Policy Committee of the California Assisted Living Association, the board of the Texas Assisted Living Association and the Executive Advisory Board for Argentum. She also serves on the boards of the University of Southern California–Davis School of Gerontology and the University of California, Los Angeles, Center for Longevity.

ASHA launched the Hall of Fame in 2018 with six inductees. Three people were inducted in 2019, and four were inducted in 2020.

This year’s honorees were chosen by the Senior Living Hall of Fame Selection Committee, which is chaired by former ASHA Chairman Larry Cohen, CEO of Trustwell Living. Committee members included Lois Bowers of McKnight’s Senior Living, Steve Monroe, Matt Valley and John Yedinak.