In the 1950’s the Cordell Church of Christ had a strong passion for helping the elderly in the area. A couple in the church had already opened a small home but low funds and little room made it available for only a small percentage of the elderly community and they wanted to do more. Jack Cox, Minister of the 4th and College Church of Christ, saw the effort that his congregation was putting into the idea of a home for the elderly. Knowing of the positive impact that this home could have on the community, he strived to make the dreams of the church come true.
Although the church’s efforts went to an admirable cause, they still met many obstacles while trying to get a home established. Minister Cox attempted to purchase the Lake Valley School property so the church could convert it into a retirement home. However, the State Department of Health would not allow a retirement home to be placed so far from a physician’s clinic or hospital. Location and funds were minimal at this time and their options were running low. The Church of Christ was at the point when they could only pray that God would help them with their efforts.
In 1959 the church’s prayers had come true. The Federal Government had enacted the Housing Act of 1959 which set aside twenty million dollars for elderly housing. State Congressman Victor Wickersham had heard of the church’s interest in creating a home for the elderly and knew that this new program was the perfect thing for them. He suggested that the church file for a loan under the Housing Act of 1959. The church took his advice and established the Cordell Christian Home, Cordell, Oklahoma Corp. in October of 1960 and assembled a board of directors consisting of six church elders; P.K. Preskitt, A.F. Reeder, R.R. Redwine, Clint C. Cooke, C. G. Propps, and Raymond Wesner, President. In 1961 the Cordell Christian Home was awarded a $400,000.00 loan. The church’s optimism was higher than ever and they were ready to get the building and construction started.
Construction on the Cordell Christian Home began in March of 1961. There were several construction companies who bid to have a chance at building this wonderful home but only one had a price that hit the mark for the founders. The Construction Company Inc. of Norman, Oklahoma bid $349,000.00. This bid was significantly under the loan amount and would allow the church to spend parts of the loan in other needed places. The decision was apparent that Construction Company Inc. would be the ones to build the groundbreaking Cordell Christian Home. CCH was built with 63 rooms, 12 additional rooms for offices and storage, could hold 82 residents, and was a total of 28,730 sq. ft. The Construction on the Cordell Christian Home took a short year to complete and was ready to open its doors on February 1, 1962. It was the first project completed under the Housing Act of 1959 and thanks to the dedicated Board of Directors and employees; the Cordell Christian Home is one of the only projects to still remain in operation today.
The first administrator hired to look over CCH was Lowell Donley. Mr. Donley and his wife had a huge heart for people in need and deservingly became the faces of the Cordell Christian Home. Lowell Donley served as CCH’s administrator for 29 years until his retirement in 1990. Due to failing health, Mr. Donley became a resident at the Cordell Christian Home in 2001 and passed away in May of 2005. His wife, Janis, is currently serving on the Cordell Christian Home’s Board of Directors. Some other people first employed at the Cordell Christian Home were Pratt Baldwin, maintenance, Esther McNeal, nurse, Edith Sturgeon, Hazel Auld and Zoe Cooper, cooks, Helen Brown, Pearl Hardin and Rhonda Guest, attendants, and Opal Cook, Loretta Franklin, Vera Best, and Marilyn Pethil. These committed people, along with the board of Directors and the rest of the Church of Christ family, made the goals and wishes of the Cordell Christian Home come true and last.
The goal of the Church of Christ upon opening the Cordell Christian Home was to give the elderly in the area the best possible care available. They knew that they could make a difference in people’s lives and they did…tremendously. When the home opened in 1962 people called it “the finest and most complete home they had ever seen" and we hope to keep that reputation for years to come.